Author Schwabe, C. and M. Maeterlinck [Illustrations de Carlos Schwab] Suite des aquarelles originales exécutées par Carlos Schwab pour l'illustration de Pelléas et Mélisande.
Published [1922]
Item ID 72123
(Excl. 21% VAT)
Paris, H. Piazza, [1922]. Folio (29.2 x 24.8 cm). Original pictorial title page to the work of Maeterlinck in black ink; original black and green title – with printed text and hand-coloured Jugendstil border (with Carlos Schwabe's logo) – to this suite, mounted; ditto original dedication to Albert Dubosq; ditto original half title; and 31 original watercolours of which several mounted, and all signed and dated by Carlos Schwabe. Contemporary full blue morocco by Gruel; with intricate morocco inlays in red, black, yellow and gilt; gilt-lined edges, gilt, black and yellow borders inside; gilt silk endpapers; all edges gilt. Preserved in original, matching protective sleeve (30.3 x 27.2 cm) with blue half morocco over marbled blue paper covered boards, brown calf versos, four raised bands and gilt title on the 'spine'. This in turn protected in an original, matching blue marbled slipcase. A unique suite of exquisite original watercolours executed by the German-born Swiss Symbolist painter Carlos Schwab, or Schwabe (1866-1926) for the illustration of Maurice Maeterlinck's Pelléas et Mélisande. Preserved, in a superb, tailor-made contemporary binding, containing 31 original watercolours, not counting the preliminaries. The printed edition - with text and printed illustrations - was published in 1924, and contains the same 31 illustrations, dated 1923. However, in this copy the illustrations are dated 1922. There are noticeable differences between the two versions. These earlier versions were made with the utmost care and delicacy. Schwab "...illustrated the novel Le rêve (1892) by Émile Zola, Charles Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du mal (1900), Maurice Maeterlinck's Pelléas et Mélisande (1892), and Albert Samain's Jardin de l'infante (1908), but also texts by Haraucourt, Mallarmé, Blondel, Mendès, Lamennais etc. The most important works by Schwabe belongs to the Musée d'Orsay in Paris, the Musée d'Art et d'Histoire in Geneva, the Museu Nacional de Belas Artes in Rio de Janeiro, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium in Brussels and in private collections. Schwabe received the French Légion of Honor in 1902." (Wikipedia). In 2007, a series of only three watercolours made by Schwabe for Maeterlinck's work - all three signed and dated 1923 - were sold at Sotheby's in Paris for €17.000. Pelléas et Mélisande is a Symbolist play by the Belgian writer Maurice Maeterlinck (1862-1949) "...about the forbidden, doomed love of the title characters. It was first performed in 1893. The work was very popular. It was adapted as an opera by Claude Debussy, and it inspired other contemporary composers, including Gabriel Fauré, Arnold Schoenberg, and Jean Sibelius" (Wikipedia). The binding, by Gruel, is most fitting in several ways: the colours balance with those prominent in Schwabe's work; it matches stylistically and is fine in its choice of material and detailing. The Parisian bookbinder's firm Gruel already existed in the 1840s. Léon Gruel (1841-1923), became sole owner of the workshop in 1891. Already being a renowned practitioner, Leon Gruel turned part of his shop into a bookbinding museum, and also achieved fame as a bookbinding historian. In 1887 he published a Manuel historique et bibliographique , followed by a second volume in 1905, which retraces, after a brief introduction to styles, the history of binding and its artisans in the form of an abundantly illustrated alphabetical directory. "In it he gave examples of historic fine bindings but he also called on his contemporaries to demonstrate greater innovation in binding design. New materials, techniques and audiences had transformed the way books were produced, but firms such as Gruel were striving to maintain traditional skills and satisfy a rapidly changing market at the same time" (Victoria and Albert Museum website). In 1889, Gruel was also one of the founding members of the Syndicat de la Reliure-Dorure-Brochure , which acquired its definitive structure in 1891 and of which he became president in 1900. He was also a member of the Cercle de la Librairie , where he served as vice-president in 1895. At the turn of the 20th century, his firm had a truly worldwide reputation of excellence. Provenance: ‘Exemplaire appartenant a Albert Dubosc’. Albert Dubosc was a French politician born March 7, 1874 in Graville-Sainte-Honorine (now attached to Le Havre, Seine-Maritime) and died November 22, 1956 in Nice. He was a member of the Chambre de Commerce of Le Havre, and administrator of the Port Authority, when he turned to politics. He became city councillor of Sainte-Adresse and was elected general councillor of the Département Seine-Inférieure in 1922. Finally, in the 1936 elections, with the support of René Coty, he won a seat in the French parliament as an independent radical candidate, joining the group of the Independent Democratic and Radical Left. On July 10, 1940, he voted in favour of handing over full powers to Pétain and then completely disappears from the political scene, settling first in the Département Haute-Garonne and, later, in Nice where he died at the age of 82. In 1946, he donated the castle of Fréfossé in Tilleul, to the city of Le Havre so that it is used "for works of assistance and education or hygiene of childhood and youth and presenting an exclusively disinterested character". Half title spotted; scattered, mostly light and marginal foxing throughout, but most plates clean, and the illustrations not affected. Some weak spotting on the mounts, very light wear to sleeve edges. In all a wonderfully preserved, magnificent item in a stunning master binding by the famous French Gruel workshop. Complete suite of original watercolours for Pelléas et Mélisande in fantastic master binding by Gruel