Les Contretems en Caricatures
Paris: Gide fils, 1823-24. Item #05342
Scarce Awkward Clashes! Trés Amusant!
Trés Rare Inopportune Social and Personal Events
Eugène Lami's Interpretation of Thomas Rowlandson's Miseries of Human Life
LAMI, Eugène. Les Contretems en Caricatures. Paris: Gide fils, [Dec.]1823 - [Jan.]1824.
First editions of both series complete.
Oblong octavo (8 1/4 x 10 7/8 in; 210 x 276 mm.). Twenty-four amusing hand-colored lithographs.
Bound c. 1900 by V[ictor] Champs in three-quarter crimson morocco, over red patterned boards, smooth spine elaborately decorated and lettered in gilt, marbled endpapers. Some minor foxing to a few plates otherwise near fine.
An exceptionally scarce album, with only one copy coming to auction within the last forty-two years, and OCLC /KVK recording only four copies worldwide, at the Morgan Library; Princeton; University of Miami and Kunstbiblio Staatliche Museen Zu Berlin (Germany).. We know of only one copy in private hands, sold to a client of ours ten years ago.
"This early album of broad caricatures hardly suggests what Lami was to become. Though he took ten of his plates from Rowlandson's Miseries of Human Life [London, 1808], he can hardly be accused of plagiarism, since he transposed the English artist's subjects to French settings, in effect making new creations of them. In plate 23 ["He! bonjour, mon cher Oncle..."] the French officer treading on the gouty toe of his invalid uncle is quite a different figure from the English sea captain of Misery no. 11, while the properties beside the two valetudinarians testify to contrasting national habits. Nonetheless, the powerful influence of the English tradition of caricature on French comic artists of the 1820s could not be more clearly demonstrated than by these two albums. Quite as much as Rowlandson's aquatints, Lami's lithographs require color to be effective" (Ray, The Art of the French Illustrated Book).
Eugène Lami (1800-1890). “This elegant and brilliant painter devoted much of his time to lithography between 1817 and 1833. The son of an Empire bureaucrat, [Lami] grew up in Paris. Beginning in 1815, he studied painting with Horace Vernet and afterwards in the studio of Baron Gros…To support himself he made lithographs for several albums, including in 1822 a Collection des uniformes des armées françaises, de 1791 à 1814…Lami paid his first visit to England in 1826, during which he drew the sketches which resulted in his Souvenirs de Londres…under [Henry Monnier’s] guidance [he] comprehensively explored London and the countryside. Indeed, Monnier provided more than a third of the twenty-eight designs which make up Lami’s finest album, the Voyage en Angleterre. It is here that for the first time Lami struck his distinctive note in lithography. These precise and sparkling plates, which show England in its most attractive aspects, brought the lithographic recording of the passing scene to an unprecedented level of grace and refinement. Lami’s Tribulations de gens à équipages of 1827 and Six quartiers de Paris…treat French subjects in the same manner…After Lami gained recognition as a painter, he became a frequenter of the fashionable world, which he rendered with sympathy and brio. His chief albums of this kind are the charming Vie de château, published in two series in 1828 and 1833, and the Quadrille de Marie Stuart” (Ray, The Art of the French Illustrated Book, p. 203).
Victor Champs (1844-1912). One of the most prolific and renowned Parisian bookbinders of the late 19th century.
Bobins III, 941; Lemoisne, L'oeuvre d'Eugène Lami, p. 369; Lipperheide 3698; Ray 137; Not in Colas or Hiler.