Londres (Paris), 1796.
2 volumes 8vo [203 x 126 mm] of : I/ (1) bl.l., 415 pp., (1) bl.l., 1 frontispiece and 7 engravings; II/ (2) ll., 398 pp., (1) bl.l., 1 frontispiece and 6 engravings. Contemporary brown tree calf, gilt border around the covers, flat spines decorated with gilt fleurons, gilt inner border, gilt edges. Contemporary binding.
Precious edition of the « Dangerous Liaisons », in a large format, the finest illustrated edition.
Very rare copy of the first state on vellum paper with the engravings before the letters.
The superb illustration, in first state, counts 15 fine full-page illustrations made from drawings by Fragonard fils, Monnet (1732-1816) and Mademoiselle Gérard (1770-1837) who were in charge of the iconography of this epistolary novel.
Their interpretation was executed by Baquoy, Duplessis-Bertaux, Dupréel, Godefroy, Langlois, Lemère, Lingée, Masquelier, Patas, Pauquet, Simonet et Trière who engraved the two frontispieces and 13full-page illustrations, thus forming the iconographic cycle considered as the most complete of the 18th century for this text.
Portalis, 1877, pp. 245 et 408 ; Ray, The Art of the French Illustrated Book, n°82; Sander, 356.
“Famous novel, often reprinted with the name of the author. The London (Paris) edition, 1796, 2 volumes 8vo with 14 engravings from Monnet and Mlle Gérard’s drawings is sought-after; copies on vellum paper, with the engravings before the letters, are paid a high price.” Quérard, I, 674.
“Copies on vellum paper with engravings before the letters are very scarce” (Cohen, I, 235-236)
Published in 1782, this epistolary novel immediately achieved great success due to the scandal it created. It is the written correspondence of a group of characters who belong to the aristocratic world. The two main protagonists, the playmakers, are the vicomte de Valmont and the marquise de Merteuil, libertines, former lovers, who settle a strategy of seduction and corruption of which they will end up being the victims.
“Valmont, separated from the marquess but still in an epistolary ‘liaison’ with her, undertakes to seduce a woman as beautiful as devout, the Présidente de Tourvel. The marquess considered using Valmont to get revenge; she asks him to gain young Cécile de Volanges’ favors that just came out of convent and is engaged to the man she considers her ‘enemy’. Nothing happens as expected. Cécile is an easy prey, who lets herself to be seduced and corrupted. As for the Présidente, after numerous denials, she yields to Valmont, who sincerely falls in love with her, giving up on his libertine role. The marquess interferes and requires the end of Valmont and the Présidente’s relation if he wants to get back her favors. Betrayed, Madame de Tourvel dies of sadness. The marquess refuses to keep her promise. Now enemies, both libertines make their correspondence public. Valmont is then killed in a duel by the Chevalier Danceny, Cécile’s lover, whereas the marquess, disfigured by smallpox, flees before the dishonor that touches her.”
Bibliographers emphasize the scarcity of this work in fine old condition.
Precious and fine copy of this sough-after edition, rare in the state before the letters and in old condition.