by d'Arnaud, Francois-Thomas-Marie de Baculard ; [Clara Tice's set]
Paris: Chez Laporte Libraire, rue Christine, M.DCC.CXV. Very Good. 1795. Hardcover. 12 vols pages; Twelve volumes, 8vo, contemporary full calf, flat spines, covers with a decorative "cloud" or flame pattern, executed in acid-staining, delicate gilt borders. The flat spines have gilt-lettered labels in red and black; two of the other panels have gilt-tooled decorative "urns" -- the other two panels have an all-over pattern of gilt tools within a diagonal grid of rules. There are plum-colored endpapers, and the edges of the text-blocks are decoratively stained to match the boards. There is some cracking along the hinges and some light rubbing and wear, but the boards are all attached, and this is a sound and handsome set of a landmark of French Eighteenth century book illustration. With 33 full page plates after designs by Marillier, Eisen, and Le Barbier -- engraved by de Ghendt, de Longueil, de Launay, Halbou, Lingée, Fessard, Godefroy, Née, Ponce, Guttenburg, and Macret; Also, there are 42 vignettes and tailpieces after Eisen, Marillier, and Le Barbier by Duflos. Legrand, Helman, Maillet, Texier, and the artists mentioned above. [See Cohen-deRicci 103]. There is musical notation in volumes 2 and 7. This set belonged to a significant and accomplished early twentieth century American artist: Clara Tice [1888-1973]. She made a pencil drawing on the first blank leaf of the first volume, under which she has signed "Clara Tice / Her Books." Tice was known as the Queen of Greenwich Village at the height of her fame. In youth, she studied with Robert Henri - a founder of the ash-can school. In 1910, she became part of the indelible history of modern art in America through a now-legendary exhibition organized by Robert Henri organized together with colleagues John Sloan and William Glackens - and some of his students, (among them Tice). This was the first exhibition of Independent Artists -- the show opened on April 1, 1910 and attracted with its revolutionary no jury, no awards concept a crowd of over two thousand people on the opening night. Despite this large audience only three artworks were sold that night: one drawing by Henri, one picture by Tice and a sketch by Edith Haworth. Clara Tice was further launched by another event in New York five years later. This time, it was a non-exhibition, in a sense. In March 1915 the headline "Comstock Ban Brings Art Buyer" startled the 'New York Tribune's' readers. The accompanying article described how the determined anti-vice crusader Anthony Comstock had visited Polly's, a popular restaurant in bohemian Greenwich Village, where he determined that some of the many works of Clara Tice's hung on the restaurant's walls were indecent and had to be removed from pulbic view. Comstock spent most of his time working as a self-appointed enforcer and protector of public decency. Before he was able to take any further action one of the diners bought the pictures and thus saved them. The fame certainly aided Clara Tice's career, which bloomed nicely. She had several one-man exhibitions in Manhattan -- [including, Bruno's Garret (1915), the Anderson Galleries (1922) and the Schwartz Galleries (1934)]. Her drawings appeared often in the leading magazines - such as Vanity Fair, Rogue, Cartoons Magazine, The Quill, Greenwich Village and Bruno's Weekly. She also designed theater curtains, menus, murals, posters and invitation cards for costume balls, etc. Beginning in 1920 she started to illustrate books. Many of these were published by the Pierre Louÿs Society, which was organized to distribute private printings to subscribers only -- (however, her books were available in the trade in New York, and most other major cities, to customers who knew where and how to ask...) Tice was known especially for female nudes, and also, for an extraordinary ability to convey movement with just a few deft strokes in her drawings. Her pencil-drawing in this set displays both her favorite subject, and her skill at executing a drawing alive with movement with an economy of line. The author whose works are collected in these dozen volumes was a long-lived and prolific French author of plays and fiction. Some of his works display a blend of romantic melancholy, Gothic horror, and improving sentiment. He was very popular with the general public in the years before the Revolution. Voltaire and some like-minded critics had no use for him, but Rousseau said: Monsieur Arnaud écrit avec son cur. Arnaud's verse drama, 'Les Amants malheureux (1764, performed 1790)' is set in a catacomb; its atmosphere is described by Baculard as le sombre. His greatest success was a collection of 24 novellas, Les Épreuves du sentiment (1772-80). This finely illustrated collected edition presents a minor puzzle in its imprint. The publisher, M. Laporte, set the date in Roman numerals on the title pages: as "M.DCC.CXV." On the face of it, this should translate to "1815." But the periods after "M" (a millenium) and "DCC." (seven centuries) indicate that some other category of years is indicated for the group at the end ".CXV" -- The logical conclusion is that the printer, perhaps distracted by the brand new Revolutionary calendar, has transposed the "C" and the "X" [this would be XCV properly, or ten years less than a century, plus five years]. OCLC has a foot in each camp. OCLC: 15476023 locates seven sets, described as originating in 1795. But OCLC: 23407366 locates eight further sets, listed as "1815." We strongly believe that 1795 is the correct date, and can offer at least two reasons. First, the bookseller Laporte moved shop in Paris sometime between 1795, when he issued this twelve volume set from the rue Christine, and 1803, when Laporte recorded his address as "rue de Savoie, no. 19" - from which they issued another 'Oeuvres d'Arnaud,' with a different arrangement of volumes. There is no record of Laporte issuing any other books as late as 1815. It strains credulity to suggest that he would have revived his business, back in his old location, in order to issue an expensive set of books which would not have had much appeal to a different post-Napoleon French public, ten years after Baculard d'Arnaud died as an impoverished old man. ; Signed by Notable Personage, Unrelated . (Inventory #: 39489)
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