Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - November - 2008 Issue

Illustrated Books and Book Illustration from Frits Knuf Antiquarian Books

Knuf215

Illustrated books and book illustrations from Fritz Knuf.


By Michael Stillman


Frits Knuf Antiquarian Books has issued a new catalogue of The Illustrated Book and Book Illustration. This is truly a catalogue for those who believe a picture is worth a thousand words. It includes some antiquarian and rare illustrated books, titles about old illustrated books, and catalogues of such collections, including numerous auction catalogues of important collections. Offered are nearly 400 items in the field, of which these are just a few.

Item 120 is Inleydingh Tot De Practijk Der Al-Gemeene Schilder-kost... a 17th century Dutch instructional on painting by Willem Goeree. This is a rare first edition published in 1670. Of course, this was the time of the Dutch Masters, including such well-known names as Rembrandt. A Dutch treatise on painting at this time would be important, and it is likely some of the noted painters of the era would have consulted Goeree's book. However, Goeree was not himself a notable painter, his primary occupations being printer, writer and bookseller. Nevertheless, he was able to provide this manual on painting, which also includes a history of painting and advice on making one's name known to the public. Priced at €1,200 (Euros, or roughly $1,622 in U.S. dollars).

Item 119 is an unusual book of decorative art: Vignettes Decoratives Dans Le Gout Du Jour by Henri Gillet. This a collection of beautiful designs in the "taste of the day," which in this case was 1922. There are 30 hand-colored plates of these colorful art-nouveau designs. They feature either vividly contrasting colors, or nuanced shades of one color. €600 ($811).

Item 60 offers an unusual privately created album, compiled by an unknown person. It consists of 142 decorative letters cut from titles and other pages of 17th and 18th century books. Ouch! Those books were probably not that valuable when Mr. Scissorhands did his work. It provides an interesting survey, although Knuf notes, "one can question the method he used by cutting up books." €750 ($1,014).

Here is another book composed of earlier books, though this one consists of much larger pieces, and was published as a catalogue in this form. It is a specimen book of titles published by Edmond Biendiné et Cie of Paris, probably published in or shortly after 1852. This printer published reprints of books popular at the time under the Biendiné and other names (A. Courcier, J. Poulain). There are 21 samples, and the typical one includes original samples of the wraps, half-title, title, three plates, and four to eight pages of text. Item 320. €1,200 ($1,622).

For those who collect illustrations of animals, item 30 is the Bodleian Picture Book No. 4 from the Bodleian Library in 1951. It is titled Zoological Illustration. €15 ($20). Item 181 is The Animal Illustrated 1550-1900. From the Collections of the New York Public Library. This collection of 100 descriptions and illustrations of animals was published in 1991. €30 ($40).

Item 37 is a guide on perspective in painting and architecture by Abraham Bossé: Le peintre converty aux precises et universelles regles de son art. It is presented in the form of a dialogue between the author and various others. Bossé was a popular illustrator of the 17th century with over a thousand engravings to his name. Bossé was forced from his job at the Royal Academy in France as a result of some disagreements, and he includes his side of this story in his book. Published in 1667. €2,500 ($3,380).

Frits Knuf Antiquarian Books may be reached at 0033 (0) 254 722 656 (France) or info@fritsknuf.com. Their website is www.fritsknuf.com.

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