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Title: La Boite Aux Lettres
Description: Paris: Caboche, Grégoire , 1837-1838. One of Paul Gavarni's Rarest and Most Famous Series Fourteen Superb Hand-Colored Lithographs.. GAVARNI, Paul, illustrator. La Boite aux Lettres. Paris: Caboche, Grégoire et Cie, Chez Arnauld de Vresse, libraire éditeur, [1837]. Folio (13 x 10 1/8 inches; 330 x 257 mm). Lithographed title-page and fourteen superb hand-colored plates with captions of the 'letters' printed below, all heightened with gum arabic. Publisher's lithographed green paper over boards, publisher's? glassine wrapper, minor rubbing to extremities otherwise very fine. This exceedingly rare album was issued with the just the first fourteen plates of the series (which eventually ran to thirty-four plates). The first twelve lithographs were published by Caboche, Grégoire et Cie. The following twenty-two lithographs were published in the journal Le Charivari between 7 November 1837 and 6 February 1839. According to OCLC there is just one copy with all thirty-four plates in libraries and institutions worldwide: The Clark Art Institute (MA, USA) with all thirty-four plates- but lacking the lithographed title-page. Other than that example, there are only three individual lithographs at The Getty (CA, USA) (numbers 4, 8 & 14). The Getty also have a plain example of number 10. Paul Gavarni (1804-1866). "A French artist best known for his lithographs, Paul Gavarni (née Chevalier Suplice Guillaume) was born in Paris on January 13, 1804. Throughout his lifetime Gavarni produced over 4000 satirical prints for journals and fashion magazines. Both delicately witty and elegantly revealing of human behavior and character, Gavarni's genre scenes made him one of the most important and popular nineteenth-century artists. He is often critically paired with Honoré Daumier with whom he (and other young printmakers like Jean-Jacques Grandville and Joseph Traviés) raised the status and importance of social lithography and printmaking as an art form.. In the 1830s he began to work for L'Artiste, La Caricature, and, most importantly, Le Charivari. The latter was owned by Charles Philipon, and became Gavarni's longest running contract and most important place of publication. Here Gavarni published some of his most famous series, including Les Artistes, La Boite aux Lettres, Clichy (inspired by his month-long stay in debtor's prison), Les Coulisses, Les Enfants Terribles, Impressions de Ménage, etc. etc." (childsgallery.com) "Gavarni, as Sainte-Beuve puts it, set to depicting and silhouetting society in all directions and from top to bottom: the high society, the not so high society-all sorts of societies, capturing the life of his time. He grabbed modern life by every available handhold, imitating no one, looking for nothing else, swimming in open water and taking us in his wake, amidst the stream of the manners of the time. He was Gavarni with an inexhaustible wit who, at the bottom of a graceful drawing, always interesting thanks to rational observation, would write a caption full of subtle humor. It would sometimes unfold like a short comedy, or be condensed like a geometrical axiom. Amusing and light-hearted when taken separately, Gavarni's captions showed their true color of skeptical melancholy and of deep and powerful meaning when considered as a whole. He could, through the accuracy of faces, careful rendering of clothes, and the precision of poses and bearing, unmistakably express the age, quality, occupation, habits, manners and ridiculous ways of the characters he depicted. He made them speak a language that was stunning with original exactness, feeling, and novelty. Gavarni-and that's why he is great-created two genres at once: the pencil-drawn comedy of manners and the caption. His reputation became huge. True enough, much of his audience only saw the funny aspect of the genre, and called his drawings "caricatures", without noticing any difference with those of Daumier. But all sensitive souls were seduced by their elegance and subtlety, and easily perceived their uniqueness." (oldbookillustrations.com). Armelhault & Bocher, p. 88 (12 unnumbered + 348-349). Not mentioned in Ray.  . .


Price: US$ 7500.00 Seller: David Brass Rare Books (ABAA/ILAB)
- Book number: 04616

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