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Grolier Club Exhibitions

19th Century


Jean-Joseph Bernard.

Calligraphic portrait of Jean-Marie Roland de La Platière. Paris, 1793.

This is a memorial portrait of Roland de La Platière, French revolutionary and leader of the Girondist party, who died in the same year. Bernard was a celebrated portraitist in calligraphy, whose subjects included Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Napoleon.

The portrait and its swirling décor, along with the inscriptions, are executed in pen and ink on paper, with watercolor wash. Calligraphic and micrographic portraits have enjoyed great acclaim as artistic genres, and this is quite an elaborate example of the former technique. Gift of Philip Hofer, 1958. Lasting Impressions, p. 95.

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Félix Bracquemond.

Etched portrait of Edmond de Goncourt. Paris or Sèvres, 1882.

Bracquemond depicts Goncourt among his treasures. At his left front is a portfolio of prints by his younger brother, Jules. Edmond created the Académie Goncourt to honor Jules and the Prix Goncourt in his brother’s memory. The prize continues to be awarded each December.

This is the final version of this masterpiece, the eighth of eight states. It enjoys an unbroken provenance: from the artist to the subject, who gave it to Theodore Child, who bequeathed it to his executor, George A. Lucas, who donated it to the Club, with Samuel Putnam Avery as the intermediary. Gift of George A. Lucas, 1893. Cat. No. 11.14.

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Antoine Alexandre Barbier.

Catalogue des livres de la bibliothèque du Conseil d’État. Paris: Imprimerie de la République, 1803.

The library of the Council of State, consisting of some 10,000 volumes, was transferred to Fontainebleau in 1807 under Napoleon’s orders. Our copy is bound in somewhat later Parisian red goatskin, with the arms of Louis XVIII, whose reign began in 1815.

The binding, in the style of the Bozerian brothers, is unsigned. It is possibly the work of Lefèbvre, nephew of the elder Bozerian, Jean-Claude (Bozerian l’aîné); Lefèbvre had inherited his uncles’ suite of binding tools. Purchased on the trust fund of Lathrop Colgate Harper. Cat. No. 7.2.

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Album of blank leaves. [Paris, ca. 1830s].

A large oblong quarto in Parisian straight-grain russet goatskin, decorated in so-called cathedral style. It is heavily gilt, with polychrome inlays and onlays, a rose window pattern on center, and heavy arch motifs; all edges gilt; signed Alphonse Giroux.

Giroux was a bookseller who claimed to be a bookbinder but in reality commissioned work from shops willing to affix his name to their creations. Antoine Bauzonnet is known to have declined to do so. This binding is attributed to René and Adolfe Simier (Simier père et fils), though Joseph Thouvenin produced very similar work. Gift of Samuel Putnam Avery, 1899. Cat. No. 7.8.

Marie-Jean-Pierre Flourens.

Catalogue des livres et tableaux. Manuscript on paper. Paris, ca. 1859–1863.

Flourens was a prominent physician and physiologist who taught at the Collège de France: Professor of Anatomy (1833) and Professor of Natural History (1855). He was a member of the Académie française and Grand Officier of the Légion d’Honneur.

This is his autograph record of his extensive professional library, consisting of works in multiple scientific categories and disciplines. Languages range from French and German to Latin and English. Flourens employed a folio ledger volume that he purchased from a stationer in the immediate neighborhood of the Collège de France. Purchased on the Mary Young Fund, 2016. Cat. No. 7.12.

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Richard de Bury.

Ed. Andrew Fleming West. New York: The Grolier Club, 1889.

Our Founders sought to improve the quality of American printing by establishing a publishing program, and thus this edition of the Philobiblon as an early instance. They also raised the quality of bookbinding by bringing master craftsmen from Paris to New York.

The founding president of the Club Bindery was Edwin B. Holden, and this is his set of the Philobiblon, bound by Léon Maillard in 1900. Each of the three volumes is in crushed goatskin tooled in an elaborate historicizing style, with calf or goatskin inlays; endleaves are comparably elaborate, including vellum. Housed in slipcases, they are as fresh as the day they left the binding bench. Bequest of Marion Holden, 1980. Cat. No. 7.19.