[Paris]: , 1815. Item #04062
Incredible and Marvelous
"Cette Belle Suite Est Trés Rare"
[VERNET, Horace and LANTÉ, illustrators]. [Incroyables et Merveilleuses]. [Paris]: ca. 1815.
First edition. Folio (16 5/16 x 10 7/8 inches; 414 x 276 mm.). Thirty-three hand colored engraved plates numbered 1-33 by Gatine after H. Vernet. No title-page or text, as issued. All with original tissue guards. Small and insignificant lower marginal tears on third and fourth plates, otherwise fine.
Contemporary quarter green roan over marbled boards, smooth spine ruled and lettered in gilt, marbled end-papers.
A wonderful copy with the plates remarkably clean and fresh.
The very rare complete suite of hand-colored engravings of dandies ('Incroyable') and their female counterparts ('Merveilleuse').
"Cette belle suite est trés rare" (Colas). No. 28 on Ray's list of 100 Outstanding French Illustrated Books.
Gordon N. Ray, in the French Illustrated Book 1700-1914, asserts that there should be thirty-six plates, with two additional plates numbered 22 and an additional no. 31 but that the suite "is rarely found complete."
"Under the Directory, the dandies of the day came to be called 'Incroyables,' because one of their favorite expressions was 'my word of honor, it's incredible' (Renouvier, p. 488). Their affected speech and bizarre dress soon became the target of caricature by writers and artists. Carle Vernet established the new style of nomenclature at the Salon of 1797 with his drawings of 'Incroyables,' adding the term 'Merveilleuses' for their female counterparts. They were engraved at once, and widely copied and imitated. In this later album by his younger brother, Horace, the emphasis is on costume rather than caricature. The impossibly elongated torsos of the ladies, conforming to the neoclassical view of the human anatomy, have no satirical intent... Only with such figures could the styles of the day be effectively presented. Male attire required less distortion...
"Georges-Jacques Gatine was the leading costume engraver of his time. For many years he supplied plates for Journal des dames. He engraved the 115 designs which make up Le bon genre of 1817, a lively mélange caricaturing people and scenes of contemporary interest. He also made hundreds of plates of regional and Parisian dress. None of these remotely approaches Incroyables et Merveilleuses in excellence, for he never again had anyone approaching Horace Vernet as his artist" (Ray).
Colas 2992. Ray, French Illustrated Book 80. Beraldi VI, 228, XII, 221.