18mo (binding size 136 x 80 mm). 76 pp. Half-title, title with woodcut arms of the Comte d’Artois. extra-illustrated with 24 plates, comprising an engraved portrait medallion of Montesquieu by Auguste de Saint-Aubin from the 1795 edition by Pierre-François Didot; 10 etched and engraved plates by Bertaux and other engravers after Regnault, from the same 1795 edition, in two states, both avant la lettre, the first pure etching and the second with added engraving; an etched and engraved title by Moreau le jeune for the Italian edition published in Paris by Prault, 1767, in two states, the first pure etching; and a plate by N. de Launay after Marillier (in the final state only), which was used as the frontispiece to the Geneva 1777 edition of Les Lettres persanes, suivies du Temple de Gnide. Light mostly marginal dampstaining to first and last few leaves, marginal foxing to a couple of plates.
Bound ca. 1800 by Jean-Claude Bozérian in dark greenish-blue gold-tooled morocco, both covers with border of an ivy plant roll-tool (Culot Roulette 33) set within two pairs of parallel fillets, with at each corner an ivy leaf (Culot Fer 8), enclosing an overall vermiculé decor (a labyrinth of squiggly pointillé lines), consisting of four carefully applied parallel impressions of Culot Roulette 23, sewn on four hidden cords, smooth spine in six compartments, the second gold-lettered, the remainder with a repeated “mille étoiles et points” stamp including roses (not in Culot), signed at foot of spine “Rel. P. Bozerian,” doublures and liners of rose watered silk, turn-ins gold-tooled with Culot Roulette 9, the doublures tooled directly with a feathery foliate roll (not in Culot), gilt edges (occasional very slight wear to joints and extremities).
Provenance: René Descamps-Scrive (1853-1924), monogrammed book label (sale, Paris, 23 March 1925, lot 192); mounted label certifying that this copy appeared in the exhibit Dix Siècles de Livres français in Lucerne in 1949, as no. 412 in the catalogue; at that time it was owned by one E. J. Reynaud of Geneva.***
An enchanting “vermiculé” binding on an extra-illustrated copy of the first edition of the so-called Collection du Comte d’Artois (Collection d'ouvrages français, en vers et en prose, imprimée par ordre de M. le Comte d’Artois), consisting of 64 volumes in small format, printed for the Comte (later Charles X) from 1780 to 1784 in small press-runs by François-Ambroise Didot (1730-1804, known as l’aîné to distinguish him from his younger brother Pierre-François Didot). Montesquieu long pretended to deny authorship of the Temple de Gnide, a fairly frivolous neo-mythological poem in seven cantos, which he had published anonymously as a supposed translation from the Greek, but it was to be his most frequently published work.
This elegant volume represents one of a handful of vermiculé bindings executed by Jean-Claude Bozérian (1726-1839), the most skilled and sought-after Paris bookbinder of Napoleonic France. Most recorded examples appear on editions from the collection of the Comte d’Artois. The present copy is extra-illustrated with the author portrait and 10 etchings in 2 states, from the 12 plates of the 1795 edition of the Temple de Gnide, printed by Pierre-François Didot; probably not coincidentally, the 1795 edition was one of a handful of books published (i.e., financed) by Bozérian himself (cf. Culot, p. 10). The volume was shown in Lucerne, Switzerland, at the Musée des Beaux-Arts, as part of an exhibition of French books and book arts, from July 9 to October 2 1949 (Dix siècles de livres français, Musée des beaux-arts de Lucerne, 9 juillet-2 octobre 1949, no. 412). Cf. Paul Culot, Jean-Claude Bozérian (Brussels 1979); Jammes, Les Didot: trois siècles de typographie et de bibliophilie (1998), p. 4. Item #4005