Title: Le Decameron de Jean Bocacce
Publisher: [i.e. Paris, Prault], Londres
Publication Date: 1757
Five volumes Octavo. full ox-blood red morocco, spines with raised bands and extra gilt, inner gilt dentelles, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. Volume III very skillfully rebound to match quite some time ago, most likely late 1800s (no trimming of pages). Profusely illustrated by Hubert Francois Gravelot, Cochin, Boucher and Eisen with full page plates and tail pieces, engraved by Aliamet, Baquoy, Flipart, Legrand, Lemire, Lempereur, and others. The full page engravings in vols. I, !! and IV bear the "paraphe" indicating proof impressions. With the bookplate of noted book collector Mary MacMillin Norton. Provenance: sold at Hotel Drouot in 1908. The first volume also contains "Vie de Jean Bocace, poete Florentin" (Life of the Florentine poet Jean Bocaccio) by Philippe-Matthieu Villani.The Tales of the Decameron were originally published in 1351 or 1353. The story has stories within the story; seven young women and three young men flee the Black Plague in Florence and stay at a villa in Fiesole, they tell stories to each over a period of fourteen days, except for the days of work and rest, so ten stories each day for ten days. In the stories Bocaccio is considered to have given himself the voice of Dioneo, who can choose to talk about any topic in his story. The stories deal with lust and greed, the clergy's especially; love stories between members of different societal classes, the wealthy merchants dealings with noble personage, tricks that people play on each other and similar topics.The illustrator, Hubert-Fran¨ois Gravelot, was a French engraver (1699, Paris - 1773) who also did illustrations and was an occasional figurative painter. He trained in Paris under Francois Boucher and later departed for London around 1732. There he became friends with William Hogarth and both of them taught at the St, Martin's Lane Academy (a precursor to the Royal Academy). One of his students was Thomas Gainsborough.He illustrated Gay's "Fables", and was one of the first artists to illustrate Richardson's "Pamela" and Fielding's "Tom Jones." Perhaps his most well known work of illustration is the "Decameron." Although other artists provided illustrations for the Decameron Gravelot created 89 of the 111 plates, and all 97 of the tailpieces. Bocaccio's stories and Gravelot's temparement were well suited to each other; he also found his way to depict the society around him by transposing Bocaccio's characters to the France of his [Gravelot] day. The plates in these volumes are first proofs of the illustrations and each one bears the monogram stamp in ink on the verso. [Cohen-de Ricci 160-1; Ray 39-4. No. 14 in "Choice and Unusual Books and Manuscripts. The collection of Mary McMillin Norton". Anderson Galleries, 1918]. Some slight rubbing to covers, very slight occasional browning and foxing throughout (not affecting plates) The most sought after edition. With five engraved title pages (one in each volume). Bookseller Inventory # 30282
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