La Fontaine's Fables Now First Translated from the French By Robert Thomson With Elegant Engraved Figures, Vol. I
Croxall, Samuel (translator)
La Fontaine, Jean de
Thomson, Robert (translator)
. Chenu, Libraire-Editeur , Sold by Chenu . Paris
PQ1811.E3 T56 1806 (Carlson Fable Collection, BIC bldg)
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One of the stars of my collection, lavishly bound and beautifully illustrated. This octavo boasts full straight-grained red morocco, elegantly tooled, with gilt tops. There is a T of C for this volume at its end. Quinnam has a Chenu 1806, but apparently unillustrated. Hobbs quotes his translation as #30 but says nothing about an illustrated edition. My favorite private collector seems to mention this edition (F-0053) but refers only to sixteen engravings, not to the duplicate sets of proof plates. Against the title-page's claim that Thomson is the first, this same collector has an earlier translation in 1734 by A. Bettsworth and C. Hitch, London. For Joseph Perdoux, see Bodemann #135.12. For Leloir, see 301.1 and 318.1. The paper of the text pages in this first volume is blue. Giving an account of the illustrations is not easy. First, there are the small (slightly larger than 2 x 3) duplicate proof plates (by Ransonette Fils, a bookseller's inserted advertisement claims), printed in black and brown. I count seventeen pairs in this volume: I 2 FC, I 6 Lion in Partnership, I 10 WL, I 13 Two Thieves and the Ass, I 18 FS, I 21 Hornets and the Bees, II 2 BC, II 7 Hound-Bitch and Her Female Companion, II 11 LM, II 16 Crow Who Wished to Imitate the Eagle, II 19 Lion and Ass Hunting, III 3 Wolf Become a Shepherd, III 6 Eagle, the Wild Sow, and the Cat, III 9 WC, III 12 Swan and Cook, III 14 Lion Become Old, and III 17 Weasel Got Into the Pantry. I am astounded at the difference that printing the same plate twice with different colored ink makes; I 13 and III 6 show this difference especially clearly. The other illustrations are not easy to categorize. There is a strong frontispiece (slightly over 3.25 x 4) signed by Perdoux: Aesop and the animals pay homage to a bust of La Fontaine. Two other signed Perdoux illustrations of the same size are inserted along the way: I 13 (a repeat of Two Thieves and the Ass) and III 1 MSA. Of the same size but signed Olimpe Neveu sculp. is II 14 Hares and Frogs. Finally comes a group of illustrations in various sizes by various artists: first, just after the title-page, there is a full-page illustration (3.5 x 4.75) of La Fontaine and a seated woman; at 55 there is an illustration (3 x 4.75) of I 22 OR facing II 12 and signed Dauligny and Henri Lefort sc.; at II 18, there is an illustration (also 3 x 4.75), signed Louis Leloir and Laguillermie sculp., of the cat changed into a woman; there is another MSA (3 x almost 4.75) facing 76, signed C.H. Courtry. This is the first time I have seen the boy pushing the ass! There is finally a simple, unrelated tail-piece image at the end of many fables. This is a set of jewels!