Masterpiece of Rococo Illustration, with Eighty-Two Engraved Plates
LA FONTAINE, Jean de. Contes et nouvelles en vers. Amsterdam: [Paris: Barbou] , 1762.
The "Fermiers Généraux" edition. Two octavo volumes (7 x 4 1/2 inches; 175 x 113 mm). xiv, [2], [1]-268, [2, table], [2, blank]; [x], 306, [2, blank, [3, table], [1, blank] pp. With a frontispiece portrait in each volume and 80 engraved plates. Volume I with frontispiece portrait of La Fontaine by Fiquet after Rigault, and thirty-nine plates after Charles by Aliamet (two), Baquoy, Choffard, Delafosse (two), de Longueil (seven), Flipart, Le Mire (nine), Lempereur, Leveau, Ouvrier, and unsigned (thirteen). Volume II with frontispiece portrait of Charles Eisen by Fiquet after Vispré and forty-one plates after Eisen by Aliamet (two), Delafosse, de Longueil (fourteen), Flipart, Le Mire (nine), Lemereur, Leveau, and unsigned (twelve). Additionally, numerous engraved vignettes, including a vignette on each title-page.

This copy has the plates "Le Cas de Conscience" (facing VII, p. 143) and "Le Diable de Papefiguière" (facing VII, p. 149) both in uncovered state.

Contemporary full red French morocco, triple-ruled in gilt. Gilt floral corner devices. Spines stamped in gilt. Each volume with two black morocco spine labels, lettered in gilt. Board edges gilt. Gilt dentelles. All edges gilt. Marbled endpapers. Armorial bookplate of the Count of Limur, with motto: "Pour fidelement tenir," on front pastedown of each volume. Boards with a bit of scuffing and rubbing. Outer hinges a bit rubbed. Some minor chipping the spine extremities. A bit of light dampstaining to a few pages at the end of volume II. Overall a very nice set.

“Eisen’s eighty designs for La Fontaine are the liveliest and most adroit that he ever drew. Thoroughly at home with the varied action of these lusty stories-their love passages, their intrigues, their practical jokes-he is also expert in choosing the moment in each that will best serve his purpose as an illustrator... The Fermiers Generaux La Fontaine is the collector’s book par excellence” (Ray, pp. 54-55)

This edition, as M. Picot observed, ends with five tales that are not by La Fontaine: "La Couturière," "Le Gascon et La Cruche," by Autereau; "Promettre est un et tenir est un autre," by Vergier; "Le Rossignol," attributed to Lamblin or to Du Trousset de Valincourt; and the "Dissertation sur la Joconde," by Boileau.

Cohen-de Ricci, 571. Graesse IV, 75. Ray, The Art of the French Illustrated Book, p. 156.

HBS # 68376 $4,500