Diverting History of John Gilpin, The; Illustrated by J.-E. Laboureur

A Wonderful Binding by Rose Adler
on
The Diverting History of John Gilpin

ADLER, Rose, binder. COWPER, William. LABOUREUR, J.-E., illustrator. The Diverting History of John Gilpin. Illustrated by J.-E. Laboureur. Paris: Ronald Davis, 1931.

First edition with the illustrations by J.-E. Laboureur. One of fifty-five numbered copies (this being no. 25).

Small octavo (7 5/8 x 5 7/16 inches; 194 x 137 mm.). [vi, blank], 40, [vi, blank],pp. Original cream stiff wrappers printed in red and black bound in. Thirty five fine aquarelles including title and colophon.

Bound by Rose Adler in 1948, stamp-signed in gilt on front and rear turn-ins. Full red snakeskin over green morocco , covers which are onlaid with a layer of red snakeskin which extends through to the paste-downs and the endleaves. Front cover with an abstract gilt design of a 'prancing' horse and "The Diverting History of John Gilpin stamped in black. Smooth spine lettered in black and gilt. Metallic green endpapers, all edges gilt. Housed in the original (Rose Adler) yapp-edged, green morocco-lined quarter green morocco over gray veneer board chemise, which in turn is in the original green morocco edged, gray veneer board slipcase. Spine of chemise and slipcase edges faded. The binding absolutely perfect. With the small neat rectangular red morocco bookplate of Pierre Malle on verso of front free-endpaper.

The colophon reads: "This edition is limited to 3 copies on Old Japanese Vellum numbered 1 to 3. 55 copies on China paper numbered 4 to 58 [of which this is number 25]; The no 1 contains also the 35 original aquarelles. The Lithographs have been drawn by Lucien Serre & Co. and the text printed by Louis Kaldor at Paris the 15th May 1931."

Ex Libris Pierre Malle with his small rectangular red morocco book-plate lettered in gilt on blank verso of front end-paper.

Rose Adler (1890-1959). "Born in Paris, Adler entered the Villa Malesherbes division of the city's Ecole de l'Union Centrale des Arts Décoratifs in 1917 and studied under Andrée Legrand. She remained at the school until 1925, and from 1923 took extra-curricular instruction in binding and gilding from Henri Noulhac at his atelier. Throughout her career, Adler created a wide range of decorative objects, including jewelry, small toiletry items, clothes and furniture, but today she is almost exclusively known for her bindings…

A selection of Adler's earliest bindings was included in an exhibit of work from students at the Ecole des Arts Décoratifs shown at the 1923 Salon of the Sociéte des Artistes Décorateurs. These impressed Doucet, who purchased three examples, thereby beginning an association that was to continue until his death six years later. Doucet also introduced Adler to Pierre Legrain, whose work she greatly admired.

In the 1920s, Adler 's bindings for Doucet showed a similar range of materials and designs to those used at the time by Legrain… Her covers for Calligrammes, Poemes Le Paysan de Paris, and OA.O. Barnabooth, for example, consisted largely of nonfigurative, geometric compositions executed in brilliant inlays of color embellished with incrustations of mother-of-pearl, metal strips, hardstones, and animal skins. Like Legrain, also, she made full use of the letters in the book's title by combining them in complex overlapping configurations…

After Doucet's death in 1929, Adler began to concentrate on other major commissions, both for private book collectors and for libraries and institutions such as the Bibliotheque Nationale, the Foundation Littéraire Jacques Doucet, the Victoria & Albert Museum, and the New York Public Library. Her style underwent a distinct change. The arresting colors and imagery of the earlier designs were replaced by a more refined and simplified range of colors executed in combinations of leather, often without incrustations of other materials. By this time she had identified herself fully with the avant-garde movement in architecture, painting and the decorative arts headed by Pierre Robert, Pierre Chateau, Robert Mallet-Stevens, Etienne Cournauld, Jean Puiforcat, and others, an evolution that can be clearly traced in her binding designs.

Adler showed her work at salons and expositions throughout her career. She exhibited independently at the Salon of the Société des Artistes Décorateurs from 1924 until 1929, when she transferred to the newly formed Union des Artistes Modernes (U.A.M.). She also participated in the 1925 Exposition Internationale du Livre, the 1937 Exposition Internationale, and the 1939 Golden Gate Exposition in San Francisco.

Adler strongly believed that the cover's design should be at the service of the text, and that a binding should be judged on how successfully it persuaded the reader to open the book. In 1960, a year after her death, a retrospective exhibition of her work was held at the Bibliotheque Jacques Doucet."(Alastair Duncan and Georges De Bartha. Art Nouveau and Art Deco Bookbinding, p. 186). (This book shows twelve different examples of Rose Adler's bindings).

"Pierre Legrain, Rose Adler, and Paul Bonet, together with Dunand (his lacquers on bindings) seem to be the most popular, as reflected in prices attained. Their status and collectability are now without question. Although price itself is not a criterion for measuring artistic merit, it is a guide to assessing current collecting trends. The charm of and elegance of Rose Adler, the taut energy of Pierre Legrain, the daring wit of Paul Bonet, the sheer opulence of Dunand, and the refinement of Creuzevault and Cretté, will captivate the reader as they have captivated countless collectors and connoisseurs." (Priscilla Juvelis).

The Diverting History of John Gilpin Shewing how he went Farther than he intended, and came safe Home again is a comic ballad by William Cowper about John Gilpin, written in 1782. The ballad concerns a draper called John Gilpin who rides a runaway horse. Cowper heard the story from Lady Anna Austen at a time of severe depression, and it cheered him up so much that he put it into verse. The poem was published anonymously in the Public Advertiser in 1782, and then published with The Task in 1785.

William Cowper (26 November 1731 – 25 April 1800) was an English poet and hymnodist. One of the most popular poets of his time, Cowper changed the direction of 18th century nature poetry by writing of everyday life and scenes of the English countryside. In many ways, he was one of the forerunners of Romantic poetry. Samuel Taylor Coleridge called him "the best modern poet", whilst William Wordsworth particularly admired his poem Yardley-Oak. In 1781 Cowper met a sophisticated and charming widow named Lady Austen who inspired new poetry. Cowper himself tells of the genesis of what some have considered his most substantial work, The Task, in his "Advertisement" to the original edition of 1785: …a lady, fond of blank verse, demanded a poem of that kind from the author, and gave him the SOFA for a subject. He obeyed; and, having much leisure, connected another subject with it; and, pursuing the train of thought to which his situation and turn of mind led him, brought forth at length, instead of the trifle which he at first intended, a serious affair—a Volume! In the same volume Cowper also printed The Diverting History of John Gilpin, a notable piece of comic verse. John Gilpin was later credited with saving Cowper from becoming completely insane. Cowper was a nephew of the poet Judith Madan.

Pierre Malle, an avid collector of exceptionally fine and imaginative bindings, was the father of Louis Marie Malle (30 October 1932 – 23 November 1995) the French film director, screenwriter, and producer. His film, Le Monde du silence, won the Palme d'Or and Academy Award for Best Documentary in 1956. He was also nominated multiple times for Academy Awards later in his career. Malle worked in both French cinema and Hollywood, and he produced both French and English language films. His most famous films include the crime film Ascenseur pour l'échafaud (1958), the WW II drama Lacombe Lucien (1974), the romantic crime film Atlantic City (1980), the comedy-drama My Dinner with Andre (1981), and the autobiographical WW II film Au revoir, les enfants (1987). Item #03276

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