1859 · Paris
L'Art du Dix-Huitième Siècle was published in 10 fascicles over the course of 16 years in an edition of 200 copies. Each fascicle was dedicated to a specific artist or grouping - Les St. Aubin, Watteau, Fragonard, Prudhon, Boucher, Greuze, Chardin, Debucourt, La Tour and "Les Vignettistes" (Eisen, Moreau, Gravelot and Cochin) - and each fascicle was issued with original etchings by Jules de Goncourt, many after drawings in the brothers' own collection. This set gathers all of the first edition fascicles and etchings, with an additional 159 plates after each of the respective artists, and is bound in a beautiful, restrained binding by Pomey. The set is inscribed, once by Edmond ("A monsieur Clément de Ris / hommage et souvenir de l'auteur / Edmond de Goncourt") and again by Jules on the Watteau fascicle. The recipient, Comte Louis Clément de Ris (1820-1882), was a curator, collector and art critic. He formed an important collection of French ceramics and was curator of sculpture at the Louvre and later curator of the château Versailles. Like the Goncourt brothers, Clément de Ris attended the fashionable Parisian salons of the time, including those of Mathilde Bonaparte.
The present set includes two autograph letters, presumably addressed to Clément de Ris. Edmond's letter (dated February 19, 1873) concerns a planned volume of art criticism by Duplessis and asks Clément de Ris for a favor concerning a collector of Gabriel de St. Aubin. Jules' letter is full of gossip and name-dropping. He regrets that he cannot attend a diner with Clément de Ris as he has already made plans with Princess Mathilde (i.e. Mathilde Bonaparte, Napoleon's niece, and a renowned saloniste). He fears canceling his engagement with the princess as he hopes she will finally provide a resolution to "l'affaire de Gavarni" (a reference to Gavarni's portrait of the princess or the Goncourt's monograph on the artist?). Jules admits he has gone to Flaubert for advice, who suggested that Clément de Ris simply change the date of his party from Wednesday to Friday, advice that Jules finds too rude to pursue.
A highly desirable copy of one of the landmark works of art criticism. Provenance: Comte Louis Clément de Ris (ownership signature, dated 1878, and gift inscription from Edmond de Goncourt) (Inventory #: 259018)