Amsterdam, Henry Desbordes, 1685.
2 parts bound in 1 volume small 8vo [157 x 100 mm]: I / 1 frontispiece, (8) ll., 236 pp., 29 engravings; II/ (4) ll., 216 pp. and 29 engravings. Bound in stiff contemporary vellum, flat spine. Contemporary binding.
First collective edition and the first to be illustrated of La Fontaine’s Contes.
This copy belongs to the very first issue, among the three existing issues.
Tchemerzine, III, 860.
This edition contains 58 tales, that is to say all of those written by La Fontaine excepting the 6 that he published the same year, in the Ouvrages de prose et de Poésie in collaboration with Maucroix, and the tale Le Quiproquo, which was only published after his death.
Published during the author’s lifetime, this original edition is also the first illustrated edition. It contains 1 frontispiece and 58 etchings engraved by Romain de Hooghe.
Seven years later, La Fontaine, dangerously ill, disowned his tales and renounced the profits of this abominable book.
The witty illustration by Romain de Hooghe, one of the masterpieces of the artist, is the only one to be contemporary to the text; Otto Benesh refers to it as “one of the greatest illustrations of all times”.
This edition is “illustrated with beautiful and very expressive etchings by Romain de Hooghe”. (Catalogue of Baron de Ruble, n° 275).
Les Contes gather the whole licentious work of Jean de La Fontaine and on the king’s order, the police had this collection suppressed.
When the edition of the Fermiers généraux was published in 1762, G. Bure, in his Bibliographie instructive, dedicated more than two pages to the description of the edition from 1685, the finest and most sought after, because of the figures by Romain de Hooghe… and which, despite the new edition illustrated by Eisen, is considered as the most thought after by curious people, who value it highly.
A copy from the very first issue.
In this first issue, the engravings are outstanding.
A very nice and pure copy, preserved in its contemporary vellum.
Copies from the first issue of this first edition preserved in a nice contemporary binding became unobtainable.