Paris: Delpech, 1828. Item #04494
One of Monnier's Great Albums
Groveling Bureaucrats at Work, aka Idle
MONNIER, Henry. Moeurs Administratives, Dessinées d'apres Nature par... Paris: Delpech, 1828.
First edition, Series II only. Oblong quarto (10 1/4 x 13 7/8 inches; 262 x 352 mm.). Complete with the engraved vignette title-page and twelve hand-colored lithographed plates, all mounted on stubs.
Bound ca. 1925 [by René Kieffer] in half maroon straight-grain morocco over marbled boards. Spine decoratively tooled and lettered in gilt, marbled end-papers.
1. Huit heures. (Eight o'clock)
2. Neuf heures. (Nine o'clock)
3. Dix heures. (Ten o'clock)
4. Dix heures et demie. (Half past ten))
5. Midi. (Noon)
6. Une heure. (One o'clock)
7. Deux heures. (Two o'clock)
8. Quatre heurs. (Four o'clock)
9. M. le Chef de Division donnant une audience. (the head of division giving a lecture)
10. Un jour d'audience. A day of lecturing)
11. Demande d'Augmentation. (Increased requests)
12. MM. le Directeur, Chefs, Sous-Chefs, Employés, Surnumérarires, etc., etc. (The whole staff, etc.)
A rare album with OCLC locating just one copy of this second series in libraries & institutions worldwide (Gordon N. Ray #136) at the Morgan Library & Museum NY, USA).
"Here Monnier mocks the hypocritical, self-serving bureaucrat" (Farwell, The Charged Image).
"In this album, "drawn after nature by Henry Monnier, former employee at the Ministry of Justice," the artist shows a typical governmental office hour by our from eight to four and concludes with four salient scenes outside this time scheme. His principle themes are the inactivity of the staff, their lack of individual character, and their entire submission to superior authority. The curve of supple obsequiousness in terms of which Monnier depicts the office hierarchy "going to compliment a New Excellency" (no. 12) shows how far he was from being a "stenographic copyist" or a "mirror."" (Ray, The Art of the French Illustrated Book, pp. 202-203).
"In the album of lithographs called Moeurs administratives (1828) he [Monnier] represented the hierarchy of a government bureau, from the janitors up to the chef de division, and the daily routine, from the gossip around the stove between eight and nine in the morning, through the series of social calls and official inspections, the leisurely luncheon hours, the complimentary call of ceremony upon a newly appointed cabinet minister, to the departure with great-coats, top hats, and umbrellas at four in the afternoon. (Edith Melcher. The Life and Times of Henry Monnier, p. 20).
“Between 1825 and 1827 Monnier passed much of his time in London, where he collaborated with Lami in what was to become the Voyage en Angleterre. On his return to Paris he embarked on a series of albums in which he recorded the manners and humors of the city with unprecedented profusion. Between 1826 and 1830 he satisfied the insatiable demand for his designs with almost 500 lithographs, nearly all of which were drawn with a pen and colored by hand. For each design he himself colored a master print and carefully supervised its subsequent preparation… Some of the salient titles in his human comedy may be mentioned. There are potpourris like Recréations du coeur et de l’esprit, Paris vivant, and Rencontres Parisiennes. Macédoine pittoresque. There are more closely focussed surveys like Les grisettes, Moeurs administratives, Galerie théâtrale, Boutiques de Paris, and Six Quartiers de Paris. There are suites like Jadis et aujourd’hui and Les contrastes, which take their departure from comparisons in time or of manners…Monnier was a satirist with a difference. His attitude towards his subjects hardly varies. His aim was to set down what he saw with elegance and precision, but with no overt interpretation or judgment” (Ray, The Art of the French Illustrated Book, p. 199).
The first series (Marie, 185-190) was published in the same year (in regular quarto format) and contained six hand-colored lithographed plates:
1. Chef de division. (Head of division)
2. Chef de bureau. (Office manager)
3. Sous chef. (Trainee chef)
4. Employé. (Employee)
5. Surnuméraire. (Supernumerary officer)
6. Garcon de bureau. (Office boy)
Marie, 191-203; Melcher, p. 20; Ray, #136.