N.p. [Geneva], 1764.
12 8vo volumes [198 x 120 mm] of: I/ (4) ll., 454 pp., (1) l., 3 engravings including 1 frontispiece; II/ (7) ll., 413 pp., (1), 9, (1) l., 2 engravings; III/ (3) ll., 510 pp., 3 engravings; IV/ (2) ll., 482 pp., (1) l., 3 engravings; V/ (3) ll., 429 pp., (1) l., 2 engravings; VI/ (3) ll., 442 pp., 3 engravings; VII/ (2) ll., 467 pp., (1) p., 3 engravings; VIII/ (3) ll., 388 pp., 3 engravings; IX/ (3) ll., 443 p., (1) p., 3 engravings; X/ (3) ll., 495 pp., (1) p., 4 engravings; XI/ (2) ll., 500 pp., 4 engravings; XII/ (3) ll., 355 pp., (1), 47, 2 engravings. Errata leaf of vol. IV bound by mistake in vol. V. A few browned ll.
Full contemporary red morocco, triple gilt fillet on the covers, flat spines finely decorated, inner gilt border, gilt over marbled edges. Contemporary binding.
Famous and beautiful edition that Voltaire had printed at the Cramers brothers in Geneva, accompanying it with comments, in order to give a dowry to a descendant of the great Corneille whom he had taken in. The entire Europe took part in it.
Brunet, II, 281; Picot, Bibliographie cornélienne, 307.
The genesis of this edition is thus due to Voltaire. “He thought that an edition of Corneille commented by him would be the best dowry to give to his protégée, and, with the prodigious activity that characterized him, he started working. The adventure caused great sensation, and the subscription he organized was quite successful. On the list of the subscribers, is listed the King for 200 copies, the Russian Empress also; Madame de Pompadour for 50, the Farmers General for 60, and Bouret, the richest among them, for 24.
We immediately thought about our drawer Gravelot, who had just given so many proves of his talent, in the first part of lord de Ferney’s Works, and we asked him a drawing for each piece.”
“The edition is illustrated with 1 engraved frontispiece by Watelet depicting the genius crowning Corneille’s bust and with 34 figures by Gravelot.” (Cohen, 255).
“This was a real success for Gravelot, whose compositions, not very natural in tragedies, are perfect for comedies, where the modern costume is more comfortable for him. The figures of the ‘Illusion comique’ and of the ‘Galerie du Palais’ are the best by far.” (Baron Roger Portalis).
Our copy is enriched with the rare supplement Réponses de l’Auteur des Commentaires à un Académicien containing an answer by Voltaire to a detractor of Corneille.
A precious and beautiful copy, very wide-margined, bound at the time in a sparkling red morocco binding.
Provenance: from the Comte Greffulhe and Marchal’s collections with ex libris.