La Patrie en danger Drame en cinq actes et en prose
by Goncourt, Edmond and Jules de
Paris: E. Dentu. Very Good+. 1873. First Edition; First Printing. Hardcover. 2 p.l., 139 pages; Paris: E. Dentu, n.d. [approximately 1873]. Bound circa 1900 in deep red half crushed levant morocco over pink linen, five raised bands on the spine, simple gilt rules delineate the edges of the leather spine and corners, with an all-over decorative pattern painstakingly built of individual gilt tools in the four spine panels not occupied by direct gilt lettering of the title and authors' names, publication date "1864" at foot of spine. Marbled endpapers of various shades of red and gold, top edges gilt, others trimmed rough. A fine binding, beautifully executed of the finest materials, with the slug in tiny letters at the top corner of the verso of the front-free endpaper: "Bound by Stikeman & Co." With the elaborate pictorial bookplate of Katherine MacKay, signed (in the plate) by Frances W. Delehanty. Her husband was Clarence Hungerford Mackay (April 17, 1874 – November 12, 1938) -- an American financier, who inherited most of what was believed to be a $500 million estate in 1902. He was the son of John William Mackay, a silver miner turned telegraph mogul. Clarence and his first wife, Katherine (née Duer) Mackay had a home in New York City, as well as the celebrated Harbor Hill in Roslyn, Long Island, designed by Stanford White of McKim, Mead, and White. It was the largest home White ever designed. Katherine Duer Mackay (1880–1930) was a beautiful debutante from an old, high society, New York family. Clarence met her on a steamship crossing between New York and England in about 1897. They fell in love and were married on May 17, 1898. Harbor Hill, the site of their future estate with the striking view of Hempstead Harbor. Katherine was a suffragette and a champion of women's rights and became the first woman member of the Roslyn school board in 1905. She worked closely with Stanford White on the design and siting of her spectacular house - Harbor Hill. And her collaboration with the soon-to-be notorious architect did not end with Harbor Hill. On Christmas Day, 1905, she announced her decision to build Trinity's Parish House as a memorial to her father, William Alexander Duer. A few weeks later, she decided to replace the existing church, a "board and batten" Gothic Revival structure built in 1862. The new church, to be designed, like the Parish House, by Stanford White, would be a memorial to her mother, Ellin Travers Duer, and would cost 'not more than $40,000 plus $5,000 for landscaping." Trinity Church is one of White's last commissions before he was shot by deranged socialite-millionaire Harry K. Thaw in Madison Square Garden in a fit of jealousy concerning Thaws wife. "The murder of the architect", observes church records, "did not delay the building of the church." White had finished drawing plans before his death. His associates completed the church with copious advice from Katherine Mackay. Together, White and Katherine MacKay turned to the great Louis Comfort Tiffany for windows for Trinity Church. There are also five beautifully rendered L. C. Tiffany windows lighting the Parish Hall. Adoring angels flank the center panels, which depict children adoring the young Jesus. The models for these faces were Katherine MacKay's children - Katherine, Ellin and John. [The daughter Ellin would later attract some notoriety for her 1926 marriage to songwriter Irving Berlin against her father's wishes; he disinherited her. Her mother, Katherine, the owner of this superb first edition of the Goncourt's 'Germinie Lacerteux,' was out of the loop on this stern decision at the time. Katherine left Clarence and her three children to run away with Clarence's doctor, Dr. Joseph Blake in 1910. The marriage officially ended in divorce in Paris in 1914. The book itself is interesting in some of these same ways. Jules et Edmond de Goncourt formed a partnership that is unique among writers. Not only did they write all their books together, but they are said not to have spent more than a single day apart in their adult lives, (until they were finally parted by Jules's death in 1870). They may be most famous today for their long and detailed series of published Journals. But this joint play, first published in this undated edition in 1873, is a landmark work in literary naturalism. 'La Patrie en danger' is the second of the brothers' plays. Their previous attempt at a realistic play -- "Henriette Maréchal" -- flopped on the stage. This later play was written in the late 1860's, held back from publication for a half dozen years, and not produced on the stage for twenty years. The brothers engaged in a minor controversy with Zola over how far the indifferent public could be pushed towards realism and naturalism for the stage. This first edition is now quite scarce in the trade. There were 10 large paper copies in octavo format on Hollande, and 100 numbered copies on velin. This is a first trade edition on regular paper. Despite some light foxing scattered throughout (as usual), this is a splendid copy of a scarce book in the trade, bound for an avid and wealthy collector by Stikeman & Co. at about the turn of the century. See Vicaire III 1055. . (Inventory #: 39487)
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