Calendrier National, Calculé pour 30 ans et présenté à la Convention Nationale. Le 31 Décembre 1792
by FRENCH REVOLUTIONARY CALENDAR ON SILK - LEFEVRE, J. F.
Paris: chez la Citoyenne Lesclapart, Libraire et M[archan]de d'Estampes, Et à la Convention Nationale, 1793. Large broadsheet color-printed engraving with etching, printed on silk (580 x 424 mm), incorporating copious engraved text, banner title at top flanked by chart of the fixed stars and a compass rose, eleven large allegorical figures and two cherubs, the text printed in black, blue, and red, the figures and title in mauve, green, blue, orange, yellow and brown, the colors evidently applied à la poupée, signed at the foot by the engraver P. Vallet (M. P. Vallet scripsit). In fine condition. The engraving mounted on thick paper, glazed and framed (available unframed). Provenance: from the collection of Jean Viardot.***A tour-de-force of engraving and printing, this massive color print on silk contains a huge amount of information, most supplied in near-microscopic engraved lettering: 1) a traditional (Church) calendar for the years 1792-1821, with Saints' Days, the dates of Easter and other holidays based on the cycle of golden numbers, and eclipses of the sun and moon; 2) a chart of French Départements with their capitals, population, surface area, and population; 3) the 17 Articles of the Declaration of the Rights of Man, promulgated in August 1789; 4) a succinct world chronology, from Creation to the French Revolution; 5) an historical recapitulation of the system of government before the Revolution, titled "Idée de la France sous l'Ancien Régime"; 6) a list of important events of the Revolution; and 7) two verses of the the Marseillaise, inscribed on a shield held by a warrior whose chest is inscribed like a New Hampshire license plate (Vives [i.e. vivez] libres ou moures), standing above the toppled Bastille. The other allegorical figures include a woman encumbered by three children, symbolizing the Population; a seated female figure representing the Revolution or the nascent French Republic, writing the Constitution on a slate, next to open books identified as Rousseau's Social Contract and the Works of Voltaire; feminine embodiments of Justice and Wisdom; Father Time; and at bottom, five neoclassical figures, of which four seem to represent the seasons. The two cherubs, the Athena figure and Father Time all hold aloft scrolls with text. The color-printing method known as à la poupée coloring, in which variously colored inks were applied to different areas of the plate directly with a knob of fabric known as a "doll," could provide, as here, both colored lines and wash-like tonal areas of color. Each impression was different, since the ink had to be painstakingly applied afresh before each pass through the press. In this case the interface of the colors with the silk would have required special knowledge and possibly a number of trial proofs. This was a luxury production, produced to celebrate the achievements of the Revolution, before it entered its bloodiest phase (starting, more or less, with the beheading of Louis XVI in January 1793). A year later the new Republican calendar would be adopted, rendering the present calendar obsolete.The BnF holds two copies of this calendar, printed on paper, from the vast collection of Michel Hennin (Hennin, Estampes relatives à l'Histoire de France, 129:11325-11326). Those copies, which are digitized in Gallica, do not appear to be color-printed. Both have a price printed below the outer frame (Prix Cinquante Sols), which is not present in this impression, clearly produced for presentation.
(Inventory #: 2816)
Continental printed books and manuscripts; Renaissance and Baroque literature; Incunables; Illustrated books
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