LES PETITS HABITANTS DES FLEURS. Ouvrage Illustré De Douze Vignettes Rehaussées En Couleur, d’Après les Dessins de A. Varin
PARIS: Mme, Vve. Louis Janet, n.d. (1852). First edition. Combining the talents of French childrens’ books author Louise Leneveux, born Marie-Louise Pignot (1797-18960), and the remarkable French artist, printer, and book illustrator, Amédée Varin (1818-1883), this charming publication brings the amusement and panache of anthropomorphic design to a sweet and modest book instructing children about insects. Varin is now much admired for his transformative interpretations of butterflies and vegetables in 19th century book illustration (see PAPILLONS METAMORPHOSES, 1852 and L’EMPIRE DE LÉGUMES, 1851). For our LES PETITS HABITANTS DES FLEURS, the colour illustration of the butterfly writing his memoires using an overturned rose blossom as a desk sets the character of the book. Here, Vavin’s amusing colour plates (for example ants building a shed and silkworms busy spinning) are engraved by Lejeune. The lithography is by Godard. Leneveux brought a similar spirit of transformed nature to her LES FLEURS PARLANTS (1845) and LES ANIMAUX PARLANTS (1845). Gumachian 373 ( in a different binding); Cotsen No. 27283, Cotsen Catalogue 3470. We have located 4 copies in the U.S.; 3 in France; 1 in the Netherlands; and 1 in the V&A through OCLC. A scarce little book. “Les insectes musiciens, les fourmis maconne....” 12mo (x) + 252 pp. + decorative frontispiece in colour + 11 full page additional colour plates, highlighted by hand colouring. Decorative printed initials and printers ornaments.
Contemporary brown cloth with gilt ruled and lettered spine, blind-embossed design on upper and lower covers, spine shows sewing bumps and the binding is tight - possibly re-cased with original endpapers at an early date; the binding matches the description of the CBC copy at UCLA; original or contemporary endpapers; light to moderate scattered foxing; a few signatures with uniformly browned paper; colour plates unblemished, fresh,and bright; with tissue guards to all but one plate, one tissue guard with tear. An attractive and very well preserved copy.
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