Paris, Jean Ribou, 1668.
12mo [147 x 86 mm] of (2) ll., 81 pp., (2) ll. for the end of the privilege, (1) bl. l. Bound in full straight-grained morocco, triple gilt fillet on the covers, spine ribbed richly decorated gilt inner border, gilt over marbled edges. Binding signed by Trautz-Bauzonnet.
First edition of this comedy by Moliere in one act, played for the first time on February 14th, 1667 in the Castle of Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Tchemerzine, IV, 782.
“The comedy of the ‘Sicilien ou l’Amour peintre’ was included in the Ballet of the Muses by Benserade, the Court’s appointed poet. Despite the richness and the variety of the entertaining given to the King the evocation of the East was still missing. Thus Moliere wanted to make up for it. We had at the time little details about the customs of the Moor and the Turks. Moliere, who didn’t lack imagination, presented fantasy characters in his own way. The king declared himself quite satisfied and as he liked taking part in the entertainments offered to him, he played a part in this witty and spiritual comedy by appearing in the final masquerade of the play as a quality Moor. The success of the representation was important and the ‘Sicilien’ was instantly considered as one of Moliere’s finest successes. The cadenced prose he used here applied perfectly to music and Robinet didn’t hesitate to qualify this new theatrical expression a master-piece. On June 10th, 1667, was the public representation in Paris, in the Theater of the Palais Royal, a representation that the public really liked. The ‘Sicilien’ was played 17 times during the months of June and July 1667, then again twice before Moliere’s death. The Parfaict brothers, in their ‘Histoire du Théâtre Français’ perfectly summed up the general opinion on the comedy. ‘It’s the only play in one act, they wrote, where we can find grace and gallantry. The other little plays that Moliere would only give as pranks usually have a more comical and less agreeable substance. The delicacy of the dialogue and the depiction of love in an Italian and a French lover, are the principal merit of this play which is full of music and dances”. (Guibert, I, pp. 199-203)
“The privilege is dated on the last day of October 1667. This comedy is qualified as ‘beautiful and very pleasant, which is an all the more remarkable particularity that, the King’s privileges never contain literary appreciations, as it can be found in the ‘approbations’.” (Lacroix, Bibliographie moliéresque, n°14).
A beautiful copy of this first edition finely bound in red morocco by Trautz-Bauzonnet.
Our research has enabled us to locate copies of this rare first edition in 3 Public French Institutions only: at the B.n.F., Bibliothèque du Château de Chantilly and Bibliothèque de Reims.