Madame Tussaud’s Memoirs and Reminiscences of France, Forming an Abridged History of the French Revolution

HERVÉ, Francis

London: Saunders & Otley, 1838

Two octavo volumes (9 x 6-1/2 in.). First edition. Contemporary full burgundy morocco, covers decorated with an intertwined linear pattern in gilt, spines in six compartments with gilt rules, decorations and lettering, gilt decorated dentelles and gold and burgundy silk moiré doublures in a geometric pattern, top edges gilt, others uncut, red ribbon markers intact, by Tout, its gilt stamp on each front dentelle, in a custom clamshell box by Nello Nanni, quarter dark brown morocco and gilt lettering over geometric-patterned Genji woven brocade covers. Extra-illustrated with the insertion of 205 additional plates (complete list available). Collates vol. I, [2 ll.], 1 l. (half-title), 1 l. (pl. Marie Antoinette), 1 l. (frontispiece portrait of Madame Tussaud), 1 l. (title in red and black for the “Extra Illustrated Vol. I”), 1 l. (standard issue title in black), xvi, 1 l. (portrait of Marie Grosholtz), 245 pp., [2 ll.], plus 94 lol. additional plates; vol. II, [2 ll.], 1 l. (pl. Charlotte Corday), 1 l. (title in red and black for the “Extra Illustrated Vol. II”), pp. 246-506, 1 l. (portrait of Madame Tussaud following p. 492), 1 l. (errata), [1 l.], plus 108 ll. additional plates. All plates except two are tissue-guarded. Some minor surface scuffing and scraping, one skinned spot front cover of the second volume, minor wear to edges and corners, offsetting of dentelles onto doublures, minimal foxing on the occasional plate, the text pages perhaps minimally and uniformly age-toned. An excellent, finely bound set in very good condition throughout, the interspersed indicia of graceful aging never intrusive.

Madame Tussaud was acquainted directly with an astonishing gamut of royalists, revolutionaries, and eminences of her milieu. Herself about to be guillotined, she was reprieved on condition that she executed, with her famed modeling skills, death masks of others having just met that fate. This account of her times is set in the style, “Madame Tussaud states …; Madame Tussaud remembers ….” Seventy-eight years of age by 1838, and long a resident of London, Madame Tussaud had no intention of opening up a written store of old grief and confidences. With the guiding connivance of close family friend Francis Hervé, who became the editor, her two sons enticed her, as her mood suited, to hold forth on the subjects of these memoirs, indulging her hearty love of conversation, vast memory, and exacting personal values.

The standard first edition issue includes the two tinted lithograph portraits of Madame Tussaud as she appeared in 1778 and 1838. Among the 205 additional plates are, inter alia: an apparent proof engraving of Madame Tussaud as Marie Grosholtz, by Greatbatch; a related group of five portrait engravings, four by Claessens, which include Comte de Novation’s Louis XVII on laid chine, exhibiting all the indicia of the earliest lettered state, and Jean Rebel, inscribed “Prodrug“; seven proof plates on laid shine after drawings by Frederick Nash, published in Picturesque Views of the City of Paris …, 1823; 15 etched vignettes by Jean Duplessis-Bertaux in bright, crisp and dark impressions possibly from l’An X (1802) or very soon after; a related group of 18 portrait engravings in strong impressions published by Furne, the majority after Auguste Raffet; 16 engraved plates after Raffet, Alfred and Tony Johannot and Ary Scheffer, illustrating M.A. Thiers, Histoire de la Révolution Française; a tinted proof portrait engraving of Pichegru before letters; and an apparent proof engraving on laid chine, large and not matching in size any other in this set, after Baron Antoine-Jean Gros’s Bonaparte à Jaffa (1804, Musée de Louvre).

Of the sixteen institutional copies of the 1838 first edition located in a full bibliographic search (six in the United States), only two copies are indicated as extra-illustrated, and those in a single volume only. In the United States the sole extra-illustrated copy found, the ex-Gallenkamp single-volume copy in the Morgan Library is cataloged with 36 additional engravings. The present set, uniquely known thus, was intended by the publisher to be a two-volume set with a far greater number of additional plates, as the additional printed title-pages, specially printed in red and black on special heavy paper, would indicate. The final assembly of plates and the binding may be dated to sometime soon after 1847, as the 10 plates with the publication line of Furne et W. Coquebert, Paris appear to derive from Lamartine, l’Histoire des Girondins, 1847. (There are also two plates published by Richard Bentley, London, 1845. No plates are dated in the plate later than 1845, and no others after 1838.)


The Sphinx

WILDE, Oscar

Only edition thus with the Alastair plates. Quarto (overall 31.8 x 23.4 cm, the pages 29.8 x 22.5 cm). One of 1,000 unnumbered copies, illustrated with twelve full-page plates and thirteen opening initials by Alastair, printed in black with turquoise and teal highlights. Publisher’s cream buckram book cloth, gilt lettering on spine, pictorial front cover stamped in gilt and teal with design by Alastair, top edges gilt, others uncut. Printed by Spottiswoode, Ballantyne & Co. Ltd. on fine handmade Aldwych laid paper. Collates 5 ll. (half-title, title in black and teal, list of illustrations, Note by Robert Ross dated April 19, 1910, fly-title), pp. 11-36, plus 2 ll. inserted front and 2 ll. back (free fly-leaves each with a lithographed illustration), and 10 ll. inserted lithographed illustrations with tissue guards with printed titles, the illustrations on thicker cream laid paper printed one side only and inserted on stubs. Spine sun-darkened, slight edgewear top, and bottom of spine, small stain top edge rear cover, slight soiling on covers, usual offsetting on endpapers, otherwise the binding very good, tight, bright and square, internally fine, the paper bright and crisp, the illustrations brilliant.

Alastair (pseudonym of Hans Henning Baron Vogt, 1889-1969) was a noted illustrator of fine books issued by Lane, Black Sun, Crès, Narcisse, and others. Influenced by the linear Decadence of Beardsley, he infused his fascination with the bizarre with the new style of surface and line evolving in movements like the Vienna Secession. “La surface et la ligne so les souls éléments have sequels ALASTAIR compose son monde. Ses atmosphères don’t étranges et néanmoins réalistes.” H. Slonimsky, quoted in Marcus Osterwalder, Dictionnaire des Illustrateurs 1800-1914, p. 40 (Paris: Hubschmidt & Bouret, 1983). The John Lane archive of Birmingham City University houses an intriguing collection of Alastair autograph material principally about his illustrations for The Sphinx (via Robert Ross) and other Lane publications.

The History, Civil and Commercial, of the British Colonies in the West Indies

Three volumes, complete. First edition of vols. I and II; the second edition of vol. III (but first thus, as vol. III of the History). Large Post quarto, 10-9/16 x 8-5/8 in. (26.8 x 22 cm) overall, the pages 10-3/16 x 8-1/8 in. (25.9 x 20.7 cm). A matched set retaining the contemporary calf covers framed, and edges tooled, with gilt chain roll, original Gloster pattern marbled endpapers, volumes I and II backed 1963 in calf gilt in six compartments with black title piece, volume III retaining its original spine gilt in six compartments with black title and black and red number pieces. 

The surface veneer of cover calf considerably rubbed (but underlying leather intact), the spine of vol. 3 worn with loss of gilt and starting to separate at back extremities, boards exposed at corners, gilt mostly lost on edge tooling. Printed on fine laid paper (the maps on wove), initial quirks a-b and final quires 3H-3L of vol. III slightly age-toned, offsetting of frontispiece onto the title in vol. III, folds of the map in vol. I repaired with paper reinforcement, minor tears in folds of the map in vol. II leaves d1 and d2 in vol. I (pp. xxxiii-xxxvi of contents) misbound before c3, the book blocks strong and tight with generous margins, the pages otherwise crisp, fresh and bright with negligible scattered faults. Engraved armorial bookplates of William Gilstrap and Alberto Parreño on front endpapers of each volume. Overall very good, an impressive and complete matched set. 

Edwards (“facile Princeps,” wrote Dibdin in 1825, “of writers in his department”) was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1794 on the strength of this publication the year before, which went on to become widely recognized and disseminated as the standard work in the first decades of the nineteenth century. These first two volumes are the first of four Stockdale editions, preceding those of 1794, 1801 and 1807 and ranked “exceptionally scarce” by Mitchell’s West Indian Bibliography (9th ed., online); a fifth London edition was issued in 1819; there were Dublin, Edinburg and American editions, English abridgments and Continental translations as well.


The third volume was preceded by a free-standing edition of 1797 (Sabin 21894) with the title, A Historical Survey of the French Colony in the Island of St. Domingo, a variant of which is included here as the additional title. The considerably expanded present volume, essentially a new work incorporating almost 200 pages additional, some from the author’s Jamaica of 1796 and other earlier sources, some entirely new, is the first edition thus, as vol. III of the History. The large folding map mounted in halves in the first two volumes, entitled “A New Map of the West Indies / For the History of the British Colonies / By Bryan Edwards, Esqr. / Published May 28, 1793, by J. Stockdale Piccadilly,” measures a formidable 28 x 46 inches overall. In the third volume, “A Map of the Island of St. Domingo. Published Nov. 24, 1800, by J. Stockdale, Piccadilly,” measures almost 19 x 37 inches. (Stockdale’s 1794 edition added engraved frontispieces, eight further maps, five plates and a prefatory list, sold separately; owners of the 1793 first edition volumes may thus sometimes have incorporated second edition material into their bindings of the History.)


DUTCH PRE-REMBRANDTIST MASTER, possibly PYNAS family or circle

Christ and the Adulteress

Oil on panel, 10 x 14-1/8 in. (25.5 x 36 cm), in a carved and gilt Regence-style frame, 18 x 23 x 4 in. (46 x 58.5 x 10 cm). Condition report upon request; the old varnish yellowed, the edges abraded, the panel otherwise in overall good condition, flat and stable.

Julius Held (1905-2002), art historian, teacher and Rembrandt and Rubens scholar, acquired this panel (recorded in the Frick Art Reference Library from 1943) as by Jan Symonsz. Pynas (Alkmaar 1581/2 – 1631 Amsterdam). When it was exhibited at The Smith College Museum of Art in 1968, Professor Held had backed away from his earlier attribution, and the catalog entry and exhibition label advanced an attribution to Philip Gyselaer.


However, Professor Held, on his looseleaf notebook page for this panel, crossed out Gyselaer’s name and wrote in manuscript, “Jan Tengnagel ? … ‘Gyselaer’ was H. Gerson’s idea – but seems to me unlikely –.” The panel thus may be given to an early 17th century Dutch “Pre-Rembrandtist” master, so-called in a seminal 1974 survey at the E.B. Crocker Art Gallery, Sacramento, catalogued by Astrid and Christian Tümpel, from which they launched their ongoing re-examination of Pieter Lastman, the brothers Jan Symonsz. Pynas and Jacob Pynas and their brother-in-law Jan Tengnagel, and, somewhat younger, Lastman’s brother-in-law François Venant, Claes Cornelisz. Moeyaert and Moyses van Uyttenbroek, classicizing post-Mannerist artists influenced by the Roman style of Adam Elsheimer and his Dutch Italianate colleague Paul Bril.

A group closely similar to the central figures of Christ and the Woman in the present panel appears in a much more simply staged Elisha and the Shunammite Woman which was given to Jan Tengnagel at public auction (Phillips London, December 14, 1999, lot 5), then later attributed to Jan Pynas by Sotheby’s (London, December 5, 2006, lot 349), for which the catalog note states that the attribution was endorsed by Christopher Brown but not accepted by the Tümpels. A considerably more complex arrangement of multiple figures, akin to those in the present panel, appears in a Christ and the Adulteressexhibited at Somerville & Simpson Ltd, London, in late 1975 as by Paul Bril and Jan Pynas (accepted by Malcolm Waddingham as a work “painted whilst both artists were in Rome, probably circa 1606”), a panel which has some general similarities with the present in its groupings, framing, massing and spatial recession.

We have not yet established any precedent iconography mirroring the central figures of Christ and the Woman in our panel (and the near parallel in the Shunammite Womanreferenced above). A beginning of stylistic influences conflating into elements of our panel may be exemplified by an engraving by Maerten van Heemskerck of Christ and the Canaanite Woman, cited by Astrid Tümpel and Peter Schatborn, Pieter Lastman: the man who taught Rembrandt (Zwolle: Wanders, 1991), p. 104, fig. 10.1, in connection with Lastman’s own Canaanite Woman signed and dated 1617 (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam; Tümpel and Schatborn, ibid., no. 10, pp. 199-200), in which two small dogs gaily frolick adjacent the frontally posed kneeling woman with open arms outstretched toward a pointing Christ.


The groupings in our panel, too formulistic for Lastman, nevertheless recall groupings in the engraving cycles of Claes Cornelisz. Moeyaert before 1624 (Histories of Abraham, Jacob, Tobit and especially Lot in the first plate), when the latter was strongly under the influenced of the former. Just such a grouping may be seen in Moeyaert’s somewhat freer and later red chalk drawing, Getty Museum, Malibu, of a Shunammite Woman, dated to about 1630, in which the four standing figures are of almost equal height from the bottom eighth to the middle of the sheet, with a dynamic shallow diagonal extending upwards from the Woman’s knees across Christ’s feet.

With these devices we can also find an elaborate framing Roman architecture on the left, a framing hill middle background right and an open center receding to a far vanishing point though an intermediate architectural feature, as are variously evident in Lastman’s panel Paul and Barnabas at Lystra of 1614 (formerly National Museum, Warsaw, now lost; Tümpel and Schatborn, ibid., p. 20 pl. 4), Tengnagel’s panel Jephthah’s Daughter Welcoming her Father of circa 1610 (London trade 1954; Tümpel and Schatborn, ibid., p. 45, pl. 33) and Jan Lynas’s drawing, inscribed “Jan Pynas FC. Roma 1615,” of Ruth and Boas (Rijksprentenkabinett, Amsterdam; Kurt Bauch, “Beiträge Zum Werk der Vorläufer Rembrandts, II, Zeichnungen von Jan Pynas,” Oud Holland, v. 52 (1935), pp. 199-200 and pl. 8). Thus the principal stylistic features of our panel converge through Lastman, Jan Pynas, Tengnagel, and Moeyaert, precisely as Professor Held surmised, into the period circa 1615-25, the genesis of the abiding influence of this earlier generation of masters on the young Rembrandt van Rijn.



Tripod Plate Showing a Seated Lord in its Central Medallion

Maya, possibly Uaxactun – Nakbé lowlands region, Late Classic Period

Polychrome ceramic, irregularly 35.2 to 35.8 cm diameter across the rim, 10.5 to 11.3 cm high overall, 6.0 cm maximum interior depth of the plate.

This well-preserved hate’ is painted in the red-and-orange-on-cream style which flourished in Late Classic times in the east-central Petén lowlands west of the Belize River. The central medallion shows a lord seated cross-legged on a throne with an embellished back and four-legged spotted pelt cushion. Adorned in the elaborate feathered headdress, regalia and jewelry indicating elite cabal status, the lord is staring intently and gesturing to his right, pursing his lips. The focus of his stare is a zoomorphic double-crested creature with a pseudograph-like object on its back. On the interior vessel sidewall four similarly-oriented cormorants with extended tailfeathers are separated by rectangular areas edged with parallel bars, a motif echoed in the space upon which the throne floats. The outer rims of the central medallion and the inner sidewall are banded with repeated vertical bar symbols. On the exterior sidewall, two black lines paralleling the red rims are connected by a repeated series of slightly slanted black I-shaped columns, each pair enclosing a similarly oriented oblong “cloud” of color, now grayish, possibly originally green. The hollowed tripod legs each have three horizontal grey-black stripes and two vertical openings for the rattle of the encapsulated balls, two of which remain.


The composition of this vessel incorporates many elements of Maya iconography. Elements of the imagery on the interior of the vessel suggest the Underworld and the Overworld, and the exterior pattern of colored oblongs in columned spaces suggests the forested and architectural Middleworld. The elaborate headdress may portray a large image of a deity (the headband resembling smiling teeth, and the square plaque, an eye with the hook-and-bar symbol of the Maize God). It hosts a smaller open-mouthed deity (viewed best under raking light) similar to a Cauac figure, from whose cleft head springs life-creating maize. The zoomorphic protrusion (the snout of the larger deity image), which has been interpreted as a Cauac Monster, ejects an oval shape (perhaps life-giving sustenance). The lord’s attention and gesture focus, as in response, on the flying or descending zoomorphic, double-crested creature in the heavenly space bracketed by two three-star constellations (perhaps “Three Stone Place,” morning and evening). The open limbs of this creature suggest the Heavenly Mouth and descending from heaven, the creature may reaffirm the lord’s heavenly descent.

Beneath the lord’s throne and between the cormorants, dotted water and stylized water worlds suggest the nether regions. The painter of this vessel adopts a simplified pictorial and stylistic approach with a dynamic rectilinear compositional balance, as compared with the high scribal hieroglyphic regimens of the imperial workshops, where the calligraphic line and glyphic content generally trump illustrative design. Key glyphic concepts, nevertheless, may be discernable in this vessel. The headdress may identify the dedicatee god or gods, and the repeated motif of vertical bars connected by a lower horizontal in the bands around the medallion and the rim may include abstractions of the Initial Sign (a-ya, “came into being”) which starts the “Primary Standard Sequence” or “PSS” of hieroglyphs. The pseudograph-like structure on the back of the zoomorphic flying-descending creature suggests, as to its bottom half, the tripod vessel type (a second indicator of the PSS), and the top half suggests its construction, a flame, and its contents, a maize-loaf-like drop shape in the path of the oval shape ejected by the headdress snout, information embraced by third and fourth indicators of the PSS. The remaining indicators of the PSS, the identity of the owner and/or the artist, may perhaps be symbolized by the zoomorphic flying-descending creature itself (note, e.g., the plume).

Condition: very good overall, the slips strong and bright but aged and pitted and abraded here and there, small rim chip and various leaf and root impressions on the exterior.

Check your article or essay on Robot Don.