Paris: chez Delpech, 1823. Item #05461
A Fine Collection of Twenty-Two of Leopold Boilly's 'Grimaces'
BOILLY, Louis-Leopold. Recueil de Grimaces. Paris: chez Delpech, 1824-1827.
First edition. Folio (14 3/4 x 10 5/8 inches; 374 x 270 mm.). A superb collection of twenty-two fine hand-colored lithographed plates, all with the original tissue guards.
Bound ca. 1830 in quarter green chagrin over patterned green cloth boards. Smooth spine decoratively ruled and lettered in gilt, all edges uncut. An excellent collection in fine condition and in it's original binding.
A keen observer of society and of human expressions, Boilly was also a caricaturist. His series Recueil de Grimaces (Collection of Grimaces), a series of 96 lithographs created in the 1820s, satirizes at different professions and societal groups. The Grimaces were very popular during the period for their humorous observation of the society at that time. They were created and sold in separate sheets rather than bound in a book or portfolio. They were printed at the studio of François-Séraphin Delpech (1778-1825) the most popular lithographic print shop in Paris.
OCLC records only one copy worldwide of Recueil de Grimaces, prints 1-8 w/title leaf, at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles. According to OCLC, the BNF has the only other copy of Recueil... in the world, one with ninety-three prints (of a total ninety-six). Individual prints, however, are found in the collections of major institutions in the United States and Europe.
According to ABPC, the last complete set of Recueil de Grimaces to come to auction - was in 1949.
"Today, at least outside France, Boilly is best known for his lithographs. Although credited with having drawn the first lithograph in France in 1802, he did not return to the medium until 1822, when he more or less abandoned oil painting. The caricatural aspects of his lithographic work go back to the English caricaturists Cruikshank, Gillray, and Rowlandson and the earlier innovations of Hogarth. His most popular series of lithographs, Recueil de Grimaces, was published between 1823 and 1828... The vignetted subjects of these prints appear to be cut out and applied to a plain background, a format also used by Pigal during the Restoration. The series was so popular that Philipon's printer Aubert re-published it in 1837 under the new title Groupes physionomiques...
"The series Recueil de Grimaces, published over the course of five years, included ninety-six lithographs... Boilly's popularity during the Restoration was largely due to this series. The interest in expressive heads had precedent in France... During the late eighteenth century, physiognomy, the art of reading inner character by means of facial expressions, was popularized by engravings illustrating Lavater's well-known Essays on Physiognomy, which may well have influenced the format of Boilly's Recueil de Grimaces' "(Beatrice Farwell, The Charged Image: French Lithographic Caricature).
The son of a wood-carver, Louis-Léopold Boilly lived in Douai until he was seventeen years of age, when he went to Arras to receive instruction in trompe-l'oeil painting at Domenica Doncre before moving to Paris in 1785. Between 1789 and 1791 he executed eight small scenes on moralizing and amorous subjects for the Avignon collector Esprit-Claude-François Calvet (1728–1810), including The Visit (1789; Saint-Omer, Musée Hôtel Sandelin). He exhibited at the Salon between 1791 and 1824 and received a gold medal at the Salon in 1804. These paintings thoroughly observed and reflected all aspects of urban life, its costumes and its habits, between the revolutionary period and the Restoration. In 1823, Boilly produced a series of humorous lithographies entitled Grimaces. In 1833, at a time when his popularity was declining, he was admitted to the Légion d’honneur and the Institut de France. His three sons, Julien Léopold (1796-1874), Édouard (1799-1854) and Alphonse Léopold (1801-1867), were also painters.
*1. Les Moustaches
2. L'Enfance (Farwell #5)
3. La Rosière
4. Les Antiquaires
5. Les Grimaces 2
6. Les Gueux
7. Finissez Donc
8. Les Grimaces 8
9. Les Fumeurs et les Priseurs
*10. Les cinq sens
11. La lecture du Testament
12. Les Grimaces 3
13. Les Grimaces 6
14. Consultations de Mèdecins 1823
15. Ah! le méchant!
16. Les Grimaces 4
17. Les Grimaces
18. L'Enfance 2
19. Ah, qu'il est bon!
20. La Famille Africaine
21. Le Concert
*22. Ah! Le chie-en-lit, lit, lit. (Farwell #7)
Beatrice Farwell. The Charged Image, pp. 38-46; Susan Siegfried. The Art of Louis-Léopold Boilly, p. 122-123.