Catalogue des Livres sur les Arts tous bien reliés composant la Bibliothèque de M. R***[in cont. ms]: eiset…dont la Vente aura lieu le mardi 15 avril 1879 et jours suivants…Par le ministère de Me Maurice Delestre, commissaire-priseur…

2 p.l., iv, 377, [1] p. Large 8vo (250 x 170 mm.), cont. brown morocco-backed marbled boards, spine gilt, t.e.g. Paris: A. Labitte, 1879.

A special copy of the auction catalogue of Reiset’s esteemed library devoted to the history of art; this was the finest and largest collection of sale catalogues ever assembled prior to that of Baron Pichon, which was dispersed 20 years later. A contemporary hand has added all prices and many buyers’ names, including Edmond de Goncourt, Edmond J. de Rothschild, Georges Duplessis, Paul Demidoff, Baron Pichon, and Georges Rapilly. This catalogue describes 3123 lots of books, of which the first 2315 are art auction catalogues, many from the 17th & 18th centuries and extremely rare. Ordered alphabetically by collector, the catalogues are well described individually, uncommon for the time. The compiler also indicates if they are annotated or illustrated.

Reiset (1815-91), a renowned art historian, served as curator of drawings and prints at the Louvre and was later named director general of national museums in France. He amassed singular collections of early sale catalogues, collection catalogues, Salon livrets, and rare works on the arts, all finely bound. Many of his books and catalogues are now in the library of the Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art.

“The Baron Pichon collected constantly from 1835; he only had one rival for this specialty, Frédéric Reiset, director of the Musées nationaux, whose library of catalogues, beautifully bound, was dispersed in a public sale on 15 April 1879. It was a memorable scene: Pichon and Edmond de Goncourt dueled over these impossible-to-find livrets…Still today, when chance reveals one of the Reiset copies, amateurs fight over them…”–Seymour de Ricci, “La Collection de Catalogues de ventes de la Bibliothèque d’art et d’archéologie,” in the Bulletin Sémestriel No. 3 of the Société des amis de la Bibliothèque d’art et d’archéologie de l’Université de Paris, Fondation Jacques Doucet (1930), p. 13 (in trans.).

A fine copy with fascinating marginal annotations documenting the auction room battles over Reiset’s splendid library. Ownership inscription on half-title of “H[en]ri Delaborde” (1811-99), the painter and art critic.

❧ INHA’s online “Dictionnaire critique des historiens de l’art actifs en France de la Révolution à la Première Guerre mondiale” (Reiset).

Price: $1,950.00

Item ID: 6665