Monument du costume physique et morale.

Neuwied on Rhine, Société typographique, 1789.


FIRST EDITION thus. Elephant folio. pp 37 (iii), with 26 plates, interleaved with blanks. Roman and Italic letter. T-p with typographical ornament. T-p fractionally dusty. A fine, large paper copy, with superb dark impressions of the plates, in stunning late C19th turquoise morocco by Zaehnsdorf (1812-1886), covers triple gilt ruled to a panel design, outer panel with fine gilt floral scroll, central panel with large gilt blocked corner pieces incorporating the monogram A.R. (Alfred de Rothschild 1842 – 1918) and gilt blocked floral borders, edges double gilt ruled, doublure of white moiré silk over morocco, gilt borders with fleurons to corners, gilt inner corner-pieces and borders, fly leaves of white moiré silk with gilt ruled borders and corner-pieces, spine with gilt ruled raised bands richly gilt in compartments, a.e.g.

A magnificent copy of one of the most beautiful suites of engravings of the C18th with the first edition of the full accompanying text by Restif de la Bretonne. The suite includes 24 engravings by Moreau and two by Freudeberg. “Moreau’s twenty-four engravings for the Monument du Costume originally appeared in Paris as the Seconde (1777) and Troisieme (1783) Suite d’Estampes pour servir a l’Histoire des Moeurs et du Costume des Francais dans le dix-huitieme siecle. The first Suite d’Estampes (not reprinted in the Monument du Costume) was designed by Freudeberg, and the explanatory letter press was printed in two editions, 1774 and 1775. All three sets of prints were published with a narrative text that links each set of twelve prints into a story. The first set shows the day of a belle at court, the second shows her after her marriage, and the third shows the occupations of a beau.” A. Hyatt Mayor. ‘Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of art.’ In 1788 the owner of these plates decided to commission Restif de la Bretonne to write texts to go with each composition, in the form of ‘Historiettes’ and he added two plates by Freudeberg to the 24 by Moreau. The “text (is) by Restif de la Bretonne, that tireless raker up and faker of ‘human documents.” He wrote up each print as though it veiled some bit of court gossip too racy to be told under real names. Retif enlarged this text two years later to serve as the “moral costume” for the famous Neuwied reprint of the plates which the Museum has just acquired in proof states, Le Monument du Costume physique et moral de la fin du dix-huitieme siecle. In Retif’s diary one is said to find this entry: “Rose late. Finished the Tableau de la Vie and sent it off to Neuwied.” The year is 1789, the day July 14.” A. Hyatt Mayor. The result is one of the most beautifully illustrated works of the C18th delightfully depicting the fashions and behaviours of late C18th France, that were so soon to disappear. “Dans ces planches, d’un velouté incomparable, Moreau le Jeune a déployé toute sa séduction. Les Petits parrains, La Déclaration de grossesse, Le Rendez-vous de Marly, La Petite loge ont fixé à jamais les gestes d’une société élégante qui semblait vouloir jouir, jusqu’à l’épuisement, d’un bonheur déjà menacé” Brun, Le Livre français, 1969, p. 105.

Cohen-de Ricci 881-882. Ray, Art of French Illustrated Book, 55 “Among the great achievements of the world’s graphic art”. Bocher, Moreau, pp. 486-96, nos. 1348-71. Bibliographie générale du costume et de la mode, n° 1118 à 1120. “Indépendamment de sa valeur artistique, cette collection est très précieuse pour l’étude des modes de l’époque dans la haute société.”


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