Paris: Au Bureau du Journal Amusant, 1859. Item #05040
Gustave Dorés Amusing Attack on the 'Excesses' in French History
DORÉ, Gustave. Les Folies Gauloises [Depuis les Romains Jusqu'a nos Jours. Album de Moeurs et de Costumes par Gustave Doré. Paris: Au Bureau du Journal Amusant, 1859].
First edition. Oblong folio (10 13/16 x 14 1/8 inches; 275 x 359 mm.). Twenty fine numbered lithographed plates by Gustave Doré, printed by Vayron
Slightly later cloth over marbled boards, spine lettered in blind. Cloth a little loose on spine but completely sound.Unidentified armorial bookplate on front paste-down.
"This dazzling survey of French manners and costume through the ages was the last of Doré’s albums. It is marked by a solidity of conception and a sophistication of outlook to which he hardly aspired in his earlier collections of lithographs. His measured satire of the sedate Romanticism of Lamartine (no. 20) should be compared with Thomas' broad burlesque of Delacroix's Faust in Le rêve (144). Though Beraldi places Les folies gauloises in 1852, remarking that its earlier plates anticipate Les contes drolatiques in their presentation of the Middle Ages, it did not appear until 1859 (Ray, 245; Leblanc, p. 115).
La Menagerie Parisienne; Les Differents Publics de Paris; and Les Folies Gauloises:
These three oblong lithographic albums all contain full-page satirical cartoons with Doré captions. They are Doré’s book editions by Philipon/Aubert (Doré did contribute heavily to one or more of their magazines, Musee Francais-Anglais). They are all about the same size, in the 10 ½ x 13 ½ range. All are undated, but Menagerie and Publics are almost certainly 1854, while the date of Folies continues to be debated, but it was probably 1859. The evidence in favor of the early Folies date was that Doré’s art style had changed considerably by 1859, but there is one other possibility – Doré may have drawn the illustrations in 1854 but for some unknown reason they might not have been published until 1859. The name of the publishing company headed by Philipon/Aubert was in a state of flux in the 1850s, which these albums reflect. Menagerie was published by the Bureau du Journal pour Rire, while Publics and Folies were published by the Bureau du Journal Amusant. All three of these lithographic albums are very rare. Most copies were long ago taken apart to sell the lithographs individually… But Les Folies Gauloises (literally “Gallic Follies”) is a much stronger attack on the excesses in French history. Like Publics, it also contains 20 lithographs. Amusingly enough, the English edition of Folies actually claims that the illustrations are of British history, adding a new full page of text by Thomas Wright to accompany each illustration. The quality of the English edition is not that great, but it is the only edition you have a realistic chance of acquiring without paying a fortune. (Malan, p. 35).
Each of the twenty lithographs represent a particular period in French history, beginning with the barbarian hordes (Gauls) observing a human sacrifice, then proceeding to a thirteenth-century Inquisition, a fifteenth-century tournament, a festival during the reign of Henri III, the premiere performance of a 1695 drama by Racine, the "edifices" of fashionable women's wigs in the court of Louis XVI, a harp recital in 1810, and finally ending with the Romanticism of 1830 and 1840. These fine lithographs typify Doré's vivid and witty imagination.
Ray, Art of the French Illustrated Book, 245; Beraldi, VI, p. 29; Malan, Gustave Doré, p. 35. Renonciat, La Vie et l'Oeuvre de Gustave Doré, p. 46-47. Leblanc, p. 115.