Paris: Chez Aubert, 1836-38. Item #04300
Daumier's Most Celebrated Work
In The Scarce Publisher's Original Portfolio
With Plates Larger Than In Sadleir's Copy
DAUMIER, Honoré and Charles Philipon. Les Robert Macaire [Caricaturana]. Paris: Chez Aubert, 1836-1838.
First edition. Folio (13 5/8 x 10 1/2 in; 347 x 267 mm). Eighty hand-colored lithographed plates (of 100) heightened with gum arabic, loose as issued, imprinted Caricaturana and numbered 1-27, 29-56, 58-69, 70-77, 79-83. Sadleir's copy (examined by Ray) measured 13 1/4 x 6 1/4 inches. With a TLS from Marseille book dealer Henri Roi dated Oct. 28, 1935 offering this copy to Librarie Michel in Paris.
The plates chemised in the publisher's original blue cartonnage portfolio with gilt rolled border and corner-pieces enclosing a gilt panel with gilt lettering. Exceptionally rare. Housed in a felt-lined half black morocco clamshell case, spine with five raised bands, lettered in gilt in compartments.
Also included are several Librarie R.G. Michel catalogs from the nineteen-thirties and some relevant newspaper cuttings.
"Les Robert Macaire remains Daumeir's best-known work... Baudelaire chose it... for specific discussion in his essay on French caricaturists and Carteret accorded it a place in his bibliography. Its contemporary popularity was immense. As an album it was published by Aubert in an edition of 2500 copies, a far larger number than for any other series. Yet so persistent was the demand that 6000 two-volume sets of reduced copies, called Les cent-et-un Robert Macaire, were published in 1839..." (Ray).
Though 2,500 may have been printed few have survived. OCLC/KVK records only two copies in institutions worldwide, Sadleir's at the Morgan Library, and at Yale. Though both are complete only the Morgan copy is in the original cartonnage portfolio. ABPC reports only three complete copies at auction since 1935 and it appears that at least two were rebound; it is safe, we think, to presume that the third copy was also rebound. The 'reduced' edition of 1839 is still quite rare at auction (two copies only since 1975) but there are more copies in institutional holdings.
"When politics became a forbidden topic in Le Charivari, where Caricaturana first appeared, Daumier and Philipon turned to social satire. If they could not attack Louis-Philippe directly, they could at least show the kind of society that flourished under his gross and venal regime. Taking the flamboyant and florid swindler Macaire from the character that Frederick Lemaitre had created in a hack melodrama called L'Auberge des adrets, they showed him...ranging through all kinds of commercial enterprise, in the stock market, in the banks, in the courts, and in dozens of other public settings, never failing to find eager dupes...Though Daumier's designes are are superb in themselves...they would be incomplete without the unfailing wit and point of Philipon's captions" (Ray).
Ray, Art of the French Illustrated Book 161. Beraldi V, p. 124.