Copy described by Cohen-Ricci

[RESTIF DE LA BRETONNE, Nicolas Edme]Tableaux de la vie ou les mœurs du dix-huitième siècle. Avec 17 figures en taille-douce.

A Neuwied sur le Rhin, chez la Société Typographique, & à Strasbourg, chez J. G. Treuttel, n.d. (1790).

Two volumes in one, bound by Raparlier, quarter red shagreen, spine gilt with 5 raised bands, gilt title, top edge gilt, untrimmed. Half-title, title, 2 unnumbered leaves of avis and table, 180 pp.; half-title, title, 168 pp. 17 engraved plates after Moreau the younger and Freudenberg, including 10 in two states. Complete.

The fine plates are reduced versions by Camelingue of the celebrated folio-size engravings known as “Suite d’estampes pour servir à l’histoire des mœurs et du costume des français du dix-huitième siècle. Année 1775” published in Paris by Prault in 1776 and also used in the “Monument du costume physique et moral de la fin du dix-huitième siècle, ou tableaux de la vie…”, with text by Restif, published in Nieuwied by the Société Typographique in 1789. The same text is used in the present small format edition.

First Edition.

The work is an evocation of the French aristocratic life on the eve of the French Revolution.

Nicolas Rétif (1734-1806) grew up in relative comfort in the countryside near Auxerre and many of his later novels focus on an idealised, highly moral and paternalistic view of life in the countryside, which he compared favourably to the dissolute life of city dwellers. He adopted the name of the family farm, La Bretonne, and changed the spelling of his name from Rétif to the more archaic Restif when he began work as a printer, firstly as an apprentice in Auxerre and later at the Imprimerie Royale. He began writing in earnest in his thirties and went on to publish more than 50 works on all kinds of subjects, ranging from social-documentary novels to pornography. Many of his books were printed by himself. He sympathized with the Revolution, but he fell in disgrace because of his doubtful reputation and his aristocratic connections. His most well-known works were his monumental autobiography, Monsieur Nicolas (16 vols., 1794-1797), Les Contemporaines (42 vols., 1780-1785, a collection of short stories), Anti-Justine (1793, a pornographic novel in response to De Sade’s Justine), and Les Nuits de Paris (8 vols., 1786-1792). Many of these include plates, the majority of which depict the costumes of the period, and the anecdotal stories were seen from the mid-twentieth century as valuable historical sources as well as entertaining fiction.

This edition is rare and our copy, with Emmanuel Morin’s bookplate, is the one described by Cohen-Ricci in his bibliography of eighteenth century illustrated books.

Small old repair in blank margin of page 1 in the first volume.

Pleasant copy.

Ref. Cohen-Ricci, 880 / Rives-Childs, p. 319

Price: 1.600,00 euros

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