French Decorative Bookbinding - Eighteenth Century

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Gold tooling by Dubuisson on a binding signed by Padeloup.

(click on the binding to see an enlarged comparative diagram.)

On a previous page (see this page) we looked at some important Dubuisson imprints from a binding found in a recent eBay auction. These imprints were then shown to be found on other bindings which had been attributed by certain experts to Padeloup. We can continue now by looking at a very interesting binding found in a Sotheby's 1965 auction catalogue (Major J. R. Abbey) I have reproduced the item above along with the catalogue description. In the description see are told that this is a set of two volumes and that the reproduction (shown above) is of volume two, in which is found Padeloup's ticket on the title. Volume one is said to have been decorated somewhat differently and a fer à l'oiseau is found in the corners. I don't know if Padeloup ever used a fer à l'oiseau however we can show that the imprints found on volume two derive from Dubuisson's tools. Below I show two of these which are rather rare types that are also found on our eBay binding, click on the binding shown above to see both bindings enlarged.

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Comparative Diagram 1 - Rare Dubuisson imprints pd-7-4 and pd-7-5, extracted from our eBay binding.

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Comparative Diagram 2 - Shared Dubuisson imprints. (Click to see a color enlargement).

I would now like to present another binding that shares common Dubuisson tools with that shown above, this reproductions is of item 29, from 1993 Ader Tajan auction catalogue Tres Bèaux Livres Anciens, Paris 4 juin 1993. This is shown below with the catalogue description for this item. The similarities between the two dentelles is quite striking and again we see tools shared with our eBay binding.
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item 29 description

When I started comparing these bindings with my eBay example I was surprised to find that even the inner dentelle of my binding matched that of item 29. This feature is barely noticeable on my binding due to the fact that it has been mostly covered over by the marbled endpapers, however when I bent back a small lose bit of this paper I discovered that the dentelles appear identical.

inner dentelle

Enlarged eBay Inner dentelle partially obscured by the marbled endpapers

inner dentelle

Comparative Diagram 3
(a) enlarged detail of the inner dentelle revealed by removing part of the marbled endpaper.
(b) enlarged color detail of item 29, showing the inner dentelle,
(c) and (d) marbled endpapers.

Below in Comparative diagram 4, I compare a spine compartment from my eBay binding with one from item 29. Even though the reproduction of the item 29 spine is far from perfect we can still observe that the same corner tools have been used as well as the small star and dots which have been arranged in an identical fashion.

comparative diagram 4
Comparative Diagram 4 - spine compartments - eBay vs item 29

Thus we have a number of bindings with shared Dubuisson tools that may be from an early period when he was also working for Padeloup. The eBay binding is a rebound copy of a 1716 Book of Hours, printed by the Archbishop of Paris, it has many common points with item 29 which bears the Arms of Nicolas-Charles de Saulx-Tavannes, archevêque de Rouen, grand aumônier de la reine. Inside this book is found the cachet de bibliothèques Archeveché de Paris . The same dentelle is said to be found on a volume bearing the arms of Marie Leczinska, reproduced by Charles Meunier, Cent reliures de la Bibliothèque Nationale (1914, page 92),). By chance, I have managed to dig up a low resolution copy of Meunier's binding and will reproduce it below, provisionally until I find a better copy , we can see anyway from this very limited reproduction, that the two dentelles are very similar. Meunier notes that although these bindings have been attributed to Derome, the imprints found in the corners derive from the tools of Dubuisson, (as indeed do most if not all of the rest). I am relieved at last, to think that not everyone was taken in by Derome fanaticism.

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Comparative Diagram 5 - Dubuisson dentelles - armes de Nicolas-Charles de Saulx-Tavannes vs armes de Marie Leczinska,
(both bindings are found the same 1748 publication by Collet, La vie de Saint Vincent de Paul...)

I should mention here, a detail which I noticed after reading the bibliography of Nicolas de Saulx-Tavannes on the Wikipedia...

Docteur de l'université de la Sorbonne (dont il devient proviseur), il est ordonné évêque-comte de Châlons-en-Champagne et donc pair de France en 1721, puis archevéque de Rouen en 1733. Il est chapelain de la reine Marie Leczinska en 1737. En 1745, il est nommé abbé commendataire de Saint-Étienne de Caen. En 1748, Louis XV le nomme commandeur de l'Ordre du Saint-Esprit et grand aumônier de France. Il est créé cardinal par Benoît XIV lors de son dernier consistoire en 1756, mais ne reçoit jamais le chapeau et ne participe pas au conclave de 1758.

He died in Paris on the 10th of March 1759. Thus he was only Cardinal from 1756 to 1759. In comparative Diagram 6, shown below, we see that the arms shown on item 29 are the arms of a Cardinal, thus there is a strong possibility that Dubuisson decorated these bindings sometime after 1756.

armes comparative

Comparative Diagram 6 - the arms of Nicolas-Charles de Saulx-Tavannes vs generic archbishop and cardinal armories.

click on this link to go to the next page Dubuisson dentelles attributed to Padeloup.

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