LA FONTAINE Fables choisies, mises en vers par M. de La Fontaine.


First edition of La Fontaine's Fables, rich with 118 etchings

  The first edition of La Fontaine’s Fables.

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SKU: LCS-2709 Categories: ,

Paris, Claude Barbin, 1668. Avec Privilège du Roy.

4to [242 x 180 mm] of (28) ll., 284 pp., (1) l. for the epilogue and the privilege (dated June 6th 1667). Bound in red full straight-grained morocco, triple gilt fillet on covers, spine ribbed and finely decorated, large gilt inner border, gilt edges. Binding signed Chambolle-Duru.

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First edition of the first six books of La Fontaine’s Fables, rich with 124 fables among which « Le Chêne et le roseau », « Le Corbeau et le renard », « La Grenouille qui veut se faire aussi grosse que le bœuf », « Le Laboureur et ses enfants », « Le Lièvre et la Tortue », « Le Loup et l’Agneau », « Le Lion et le Rat », « Le Meunier, son fils et l’ane », « La Mort et le bûcheron », « Les Deux Mulets », « L’œil du Maître », « Le Pot de terre et le pot de fer », « Le Renard et la cigogne », « Le Renard et les raisins », « Le Vieillard et ses enfants », … Tchemerzine, III, 865-866 ; Brunet, III, p. 750 ; En Français dans le texte, n°105.

This edition had been composed for the Dauphin, son of Louis XIV (whose arms decorate the title-page). The fabulist showed himself faithful to the spirit of his models, Aesope and Phaedra, that he merely brightens by new or familiar touches, but the Fables from 1668 mark a capital date in the history of the genre, … from the antiquity, the apologue went from the Greek prose… to the Latin verses… it is La Fontaine who really attached it to poetry… (En Français dans le texte)

The edition is illustrated with 118 etchings signed François Chauveau and with wood engraved tail-pieces and ornamental letters.

Copy with the cancel quoted by Rochebilière and Tchemerzine at the Oii leaf of La Vie d’Esope.

Besides it contains four old handwritten corrections in the text: at the 14th line of page 176, the word bien is crossed out with ink, at the 1st line of page 57 the word pas has been replaced with ink by plus, at the 7th line of page 9 the word « Le Mulet se défendant » is changed for « Le Mulet en se défendant », at the 18th line of page 45 the word Tracas has been replaced with ink by the word Fatras.

These corrections which are present in the final text can be found in few copies. Two of them were in Rahir’s copy, then Bérès, bound in contemporary vellum, which was part of the exhibition at the Musée de Chantilly in 2003, Livres du Cabinet de Pierre Bérès.

A superb very wide-margined copy (242 mm) of the first edition of La Fontaine’s Fables, preserved in an elegant red morocco binding by Chambolle-Duru.

It comes from the collections of: Prince de Carini (1843-1884), Eduard III, Maria Perez Hidalgo, Raymond Dervaux and Auguste P. Garnier with ex libris.


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