Superb set owned by Louis XV’s influential mistress, the enlightenment intellectual Madame de Pompadour, with full provenance and de Pompadour’s coat of arms stamped in gilt 84 times.
41 volumes bound in 42 (volume 10 is bound separately in 2 parts), 12mo, Paris, 17x10cm; published 1727-1740. As usual found without the final two posthumously published volumes. Her set was uniformly bound for Madame de Pompadour in speckled calf, triple gilt fillet to the boards, spines gilt in compartments, 2 red morocco labels per volume and stamped with de Pompadour’s coat of arms in gilt to the centre of both upper and lower covers of every volume. Some volumes have very neat restoration at the head and tail of the spine or at corners. Red speckled edges to the text block; marbled endpapers; a green silk bookmark to each volume. Occasional light browning or foxing but all vols in excellent condition and with a wonderful history. PROVENANCE: After her death this set formed Lot 3480 in Herissant’s 1765 auction catalogue for the dispersal of de Pompadour’s magnificent library. In 1799 the set was acquired by Adrien Alexandre Marie Hoverlant de Beauwelaer (1758-1840) of Tournai in Belgium who clearly took great pride in his purchase, recording his ownership on the title page of each volume. De Bouwelaer wrote a number of local history books and after his death his books were auctioned at Tournai in August 1841 where the set formed lot 1479 (auction catalogue at Ghent University Library). Several volumes have folded sheets of notes in his hand loosely inserted (XXIV, XXV). ($24,000)
Jeanne Antoinette Poisson, Madame de Pompadour (1721-1764) was much more than the King of France, Louis XV’s, maitresse en titre, or chief mistress during the late 1740s. She took charge of the king’s schedule, became a valued aide and adviser and became a major patron of the arts, playing a central role in making Paris the perceived capital of taste and culture in Europe. Her political acumen in navigating Louis XV’s court which was attributed in part to her great book collection. At its greatest extent this ran to 3500 titles, making it one of the largest literary repositories of the ancien regime. Her affinity for high-end works of art extended to her books, many of which were lavishly decorated and are now held in the great collections of the world including the Morgan Library, Versailles and the Rothschild collection at Waddesdon. Niceron’s history of men of letters was an influential work containing vast amounts of bio-bibliographical information about mostly French literary and historical writers and their works.