[LA VALLIÈRE, Louis César de la Baume Le Blanc, duc de.]
Catalogue des livres de feu M. le duc de la Vallière.Paris, Guillaume de Bure fils aîné, 1783
RARE. Small 4to, 3 vols., last in two parts, pp. (iv), lxiv, 71, (i), 602, x, 90; (iv), 758; (iv), 388, 376, 92, (1), 13, (2), final sixteen hand paginated. Roman letter, Italic and a little Greek. 6 plates, 4 folding, including engraved portrait of La Vallière by Charles-Nicolas Cochin (fils, 1715-1790), MS and incunable facsimiles, and xylographic blocks, t.p. engraving of la Vallière’s arms as Grand Falconer of France, priced in contemporary hand throughout, total sale proceeds detailed in contemporary hand. Letter from Abbé Desaunays (1732-1811, Royal librarian) to Abbé Rive (1730-1791, librarian to la Vallière, and Revolutionary) and the latter’s response copied in contemporary hand on final thirteen hand ruled and paginated pages. Slight marginal spotting. A very good copy of this important sale catalogue, in contemporary mottled calf, spines and bands richly tooled and gilt, red morocco lettering and numbering pieces, gilt, elaborate armorial binding stamp to both covers of Guillaume Pavée de Vendeuvre (1779-1870, statesman), also gilt, original satin page markers at head, aer. Corners rubbed, small crack to vol.2 lower joint and vol.3 upper joint, both at head.
Louis César de la Baume Le Blanc, duc de la Vallière (1708-1780) was a soldier, courtier, historian of dance and theatre, and a prolific bibliophile. He was known for buying up entire libraries to swell his collection, and with the help of his librarian, the noted bibliographer Abbé Rive (Peignot 1804, pp.277 ff.), la Vallière accumulated a vast library, rich in medieval MSS and early printed books. Rive served as la Vallière’s librarian for 13 years, but on his death the duke’s heir, the duchess of Chastillon, commissioned Messrs Debure and Van-Praet to catalogue the library’s rare books and MSS. ‘Jamais il n’a pu pardonner à MM. Van Praet et Debure de lui avoir été préférés, et sa bile s’est exhalée en injures aussi grossières que peu meritées.’ (Peignot 278). Debure and Van Praet’s catalogue however is a remarkable achievement. On numerous occasions, extracts from medieval MSS are transcribed in print, and volume 2 contains an extensive alphabetical list of troubadours as represented in la Vallière’s MSS. The books are arranged and subdivided by subject headings, and authors, titles, engravers, printers and even anonymous works are all comprehensively indexed. The catalogue, comprising 5668 lots, was drawn up in preparation for a sale of la Vallière’s rare books and MSS, which took place in December 1783, realising 464,677 livres, 8 sols. The rest of the duke’s library was sold in 1788, for which a second catalogue (1788, 6 vols.) was produced. This copy contains both the index of authors and anonymous works and the 90-page supplement mentioned in Brunet. Guillaume Gabriel Pavée de Vendeuvre, politician and peer of the realm, assembled an important library composed of beautiful and rare editions of historical and literary works.‘Catalogue très-curieux et rédigé avec beaucoup de soin’ Brunet II, 554. Peignot Vol.1, 1802, p.163.