Paris: Maeght Éditeur, 1948. First edition. 51 leaves, 45 leaves of plates; 86 color etchings by Chastel (including 38 full page), tissue guards laid in, unbound as issued in etched pictorial wrapper, housed in publisher’s chemise with inlaid title label to spine, with slipcase. Some slight wear to head of slipcase opening, contents about fine with some slight occasional offsetting.
One of 148 copies on vélin de lana, of a total edition of 196 copies. Chastel made extensive studies at the Paris Zoo “until he felt capable of realizing the essential characteristic of each particular bird or animal as he saw it, that is, as much subjectively as objectively. He then interpreted these syntheses in decorative form. He envisaged the illustration in terms of a double-page—the unit in which the lettrine, likewise etched in color, would be linked with the facing design…. The colors are used emotively and for contrast…. Every double-page is exciting and original.” Strachan goes on, “Chastel has so successfully overcome all the technical difficulties that it is hard to realize the time and skill involved…. Each plate had to be inked by hand with two separate colors and put through the hand-press. Each of the lettrines required a separate plate—sometimes two…. The matching of colors… and the labor of the 10,000 separate inkings made the task a Herculean one, not only of illustration but of book-architecture. But the result was a masterpiece.” Strachan was particularly fond of this book, and Chastel’s print of an owl was the first in what became Strachan’s extensive collection of owl images, now at the V&A Museum. An important and beautiful classic livre d’artiste. A large and heavy volume, international shipping not advised.
Garvey, The Artist and the Book, 55. Strachan, The Artist and the Book in France, pp. 116-118, 328. Chapon, Le Peinture et le Livre, pp. 172-175. Item #2280