Chardin’s Own Copy; The First of His Auctions

Catalogue des Livres rares et singuliers du Cabinet de M. Filheul, Précédé de quelques Eclaircissemens sur les Articles importans ou peu connus, & suivi d'une Table alphabétique des Auteurs. La Vente de ces Livres commencera le 3 Mai 1779…

2 p.l., lvi, 502 pp. 8vo, 19th-cent. sheep-backed marbled boards, flat spine gilt, red morocco lettering piece on spine. Paris: Dessain, 1779.

A most unusual copy, very probably Chardin’s own copy, of this sale catalogue; it is the first of several sales, here held under the maiden name of his wife “Filheul,” by which Chardin, one of the most important Parisian booksellers of his time, periodically disposed of a portion of his vast stock. We know of later sales in 1806, 1819 (in London), and 1824.

This did not prevent Chardin from selling many rare books and MSS. directly to collectors throughout his career — the most outstanding was no doubt the Psalter of St. Louis which he sold to a Russian Grand Duke, and which Louis XVIII acquired from him for the Bibliothèque Royale.

The above catalogue, especially rich in early French books, is extremely well compiled and has been long held in high esteem. According to Longchamp, I, p. 496, La Vallière purchased heavily at this sale. One of the remarkable features of this catalogue is the large number of heterodox and politically subversive books betraying Chardin’s sympathies which, years later, made him an enthusiastic supporter of the Revolution: of 122 lots only the number is given and their authors and titles are indicated by dots. In our copy these have been supplied by a contemporary annotator.

According to Jean Viardot, from whose library this comes, this is Chardin’s own copy. He has signed it on page 424 “Chardin A Paris en Juillet 1780.” Another slightly later annotator has provided extensive notes on Chardin on pages 424-25.

Chardin was eulogized at length by Dibdin who had him portrayed by Lewis in his Tour in France and Germany, II, pp. 400-404.

Very good copy. 2544 lots; priced throughout in a contemporary hand. This copy lacks the final leaf with the list of 15th-century editio princeps.

❧ Gustave Brunet, Dictionnaire de Bibliologie Catholique, col. 459–“Il s’y trouve un assez grand nombre de livres rares et singuliers.” Grolier Club, Printed Catalogues of French Book Auctions…1643-1830, 277. Peignot, p. 98–“Catalogue intéressant par le grand nombre d’articles précieux qu’il renferme.”.

Price: $5,000.00

Item ID: 3108