LACROIX, Paul. Louis XII et Anne de Bretagne. Chronique de l’Histoire de France. Ouvrage illustré de 14 chromolithographies, 15 grandes gravures hors texte et d’environ 200 dessins dans le texte d’après les originaux de l’époque. Paris, Georges Hurtrel, 1882.
4to [290 x 198 mm] of (3) ll., 1 portrait, iv pp., (2), 642, 29 plates out of pagination including 14 in colors and 1 on double-page. Bound in light-brown quarter-morocco, spine ribbed and finely decorated, untrimmed. Contemporary binding.
First edition of this very beautiful work dedicated to the history of the king Louis XII. Catalogue Pichon, n°4068.
Copy n°3, one of the 30 deluxe copies printed on Japanese vellum.
“Published at 30 fr. 200 copies have also been printed on Vellum paper, at 60 fr.; and 30 copies on Japanese vellum at 200 fr.” (Vicaire, Manuel de l’amateur de livres du XIXe siècle, IV, 858)
Paul Lacroix had started to write a History of the sixteenth century in France that was supposed to count 34 volumes, and of which the first four 8vo volumes were printed in 1834-1835. Unfortunately, these 4 volumes, which comprised only the reign of Louis XII, were destroyed in the fire of the shops of the rue du Pot-de-Fer, and therefore, the work got stopped.
“These 34 volumes, it would have taken nine or ten years to write them, ten years of hard-working and tireless labor. I had seen all that existed as original documents, related to seven reigns that fill the century I was offering to write and depict: books, manuscripts, miniatures, engravings, monuments… After having finished 5 or 6 volumes of this ‘History’, I was able to publish it; I had even printed out the 3 or 4 first volumes… and I was full of passion, bravery, devotion, to pursue my work, when the edition of the volumes already printed was entirely destroyed in a fire. These volumes, the only ones that came out, became so rare, that nobody of the current generation known, even suspects they exist. These are those volumes, these are the manuscripts of my work that I would like to bring out, after a silence, after a 45-year-old indifference, especially as these manuscripts and volumes enclose the entire life, the entire reign of Louis XII, one of the least known and most curious reign of the history of France. This is the history, the chronicle of the good king Louis XII, Father of the People, and of the good queen Anne of Brittany.” (Paul Lacroix, Foreword).
“Paul Lacroix (1807-1884), a French polygraph, known under the pseudonym of P.-L. Jacob bibliophile, was already a hack writer in his schooldays. Leading at the same time the easy and hard literature, as it was said then, he composed on one hand novels, and on the other hand history books, then he mixed the two genres in many publications. His first novels were successful and attracted the following. In 1842 he funded with M. Thoré ‘L’Alliance des Arts’ (‘The Alliance of the Arts’), whose purpose was to make known, with good catalogues, the artistic and literary treasures owned by the private collections, and thus to serve the interests of books and arts lovers. In 1848, he was called to be part of the commission of the historical monuments created near the minister of the Interior. During more than ten years, he pursued the reform of the King’s Library, and suggested a reorganization plan of this great institution. In 1855 he was appointed curator of the Arsenal’s Library.” (Nouvelle biographie générale, XXVIII, 595-602)
The superb illustration is composed of a portrait of Paul Lacroix etched by A. Lalauze, of 29 plates out of pagination (14 chromolithographs and 15 large engravings) and around 200 drawings in the text after the contemporary original work.
A superb copy of the deluxe edition on Japanese vellum perfectly preserved.