Fables choisies, mises en vers.
Four volumes in-folio (49,5x34,5cm), full red morocco, triple gilt fillet on the boards with gilt fleurons in the corners and arms in the center, spine with 7 nerves decorated with gilt patterns, title and tome in lavaliere morocco, gilt fillets on the edges, gilt inner lace, light blue silk patterned endpapers, gilt edges. Binding of the period with the arms of the Marquis de Miromesnil.
Volume I. [iv] pp, portrait, frontispiece, xxx (including title), xviij, 124 pp, 70 plates - Volume II. , ij, 135 pp. 68 pl. - Volume III. , iv, 146 pp, 68 pl. - Volume IV. [iv], ij, 188 pp. 69 pl.
First edition of the Fables of La Fontaine illustrated by Oudry, in an elegant contemporary binding in red morocco with the arms of Armand-Thomas Hue, marquis de Miromesnil.
Copy on large paper of the Fables de la Fontaine preceded by a Life of La Fontaine by Montenault, and illustrated with a frontispiece by Jean-Baptiste Oudry finished by Dupuis and engraved by Charles-Nicolas Cochin and 275 figures out of text drawn by Oudry and engraved in intaglio by Aveline, Baquoy, Cochin, Lebas, Pasquier, ... The very beautiful and numerous floral or allegorical culs-de-lampe were engraved on wood by Le Sueur and Papillon after the compositions of the painter of flowers J. - J. Bachelier, and the typographical part was entrusted to Charles-Antoine Jombert. The second engraving illustrating the fable The monkey and the leopard after the letter.
Jean-Baptiste Oudry (1686-1755) had his first successes as a portraitist before being admitted to the Royal Academy in 1719 as a history painter. Around 1727, he decided to devote himself exclusively to the study and reproduction of animals, a special genre in which he quickly excelled, working in particular at Versailles for the king, for whom he executed several hunting scenes and the portraits of his dogs. He became artistic director of the Manufacture de Beauvais and drew the 276 figures illustrating the Fables of La Fontaine with black pencil, ink, wash and white gouache between 1729 and 1734.
Jean-Louis Regnard de Montenault, who had acquired Oudry's drawings and formed the project of a beautiful edition of the Fables in memory of the great fabulist, entrusted the artistic direction of the project to Charles-Nicolas Cochin (1715-1790), who redrew Oudry's drawings in graphite before having them engraved by different artists. In the publisher's Foreword, he praises Oudry "... he studied these fables and [that] he knew so well how to appropriate in his drawings the ideas of the poet, that one would say in a way that the same Muse used the pencil of M. Oudry to trace them for us in a way that is as poetic as it is clever and natural. So we can rightly call him the La Fontaine of painting. Since no one has better known how to make animals act and speak than he has done in his paintings, and particularly in the drawings we are announcing." Oudry's plates had a considerable influence thereafter, as much in the field of porcelain, as in that of wallpaper, tapestry, art objects...
Provenance: from the library of the French magistrate, man of letters and politician Armand-Thomas Hue, marquis de Miromesnil (1723-1796), with his arms stamped in the center of the plates. Member and then director of the Academy of Sciences, Belles-Lettres and Arts of Rouen, Armand-Thomas Hue was also first president of the Parliament of Normandy before being appointed Keeper of the Seals by Louis XVI in 1774. His vast library, with more than three thousand books, included several different editions of the Fables. The present copy is described under the n° 2098.
Slight defects (some old restorations, some small soiling and very small tears, some foxing to the frontispiece and marginal wetness in volume II. In volume 4, the plate La perdrix from fable CLXXXIX Les deux rats, le renard et l'oeuf has been brought back to the level of the image and pasted on a sheet).
A good first edition copy despite small defects, in an elegant contemporary red morocco binding with the arms of Armand-Thomas Hue, Marquis de Miromesnil (OHR pl. 2311, iron 1), with the plate of the Monkey and the Leopard in a second printing.
Cohen, 548-550; Portalis, 479-489; Rochambeau, n°86; OHR pl. 2311, iron 1; Catalogue des livres qui compose la bibliothèque de Mgr Hue de Miromenil, garde des sceaux de France, Paris, Valade, 1781 (n°2098).