Les Idylles
Les Idylles Les Idylles Les Idylles Les Idylles Les Idylles Les Idylles Les Idylles Les Idylles Les Idylles Les Idylles Les Idylles Les Idylles Les Idylles Les Idylles Les Idylles Les Idylles
Paris: Teriade editeur. Editions Verve. 1945.

Folio in 4s. 326x248mm. pp. 112 [12], [4bl]. Limited edition of 220 on vergé d'Arches, this is one of thirty copies (number 13) with a suite of thirty-eight illustrations on "chine" (i.e. japon pelure) bound in at the end. These are the illustrations from the book by Henri Laurens (who has signed the book), of which sixteen are full page, engraved on wood by Theo Schmied and printed in red ochre. Inspired by figure painting on Greek vases, these prints capture beautifully the classical and mythological spirit of the text. Bound in at the beginning of the book is an original pencil drawing of two crouching women, signed H.L. Frontispiece design after a drawing by Laurens with the image blind embossed on a gold ground. This edition of Theocritus's Idylls, one of the foundational works of the European pastoral tradition, was the first of three works published by Teriade with illustrations by the cubist sculptor Henri Laurens.
Bound by Paul Bonet in 1955 (signed to front turn in and dated to rear turn in), the fifth of eight which he made for Les Idylles. Bound in black calf, both covers are decorated with a mosaic pattern constructed from intersecting quadrangles of calf coloured orange, tobacco brown and brick red on which is a modernist arabesque design made from white strips. The design on the covers is linked across part of the spine which is lettered in white with the title in orange inlay. Orange suede doublures with white calf borders. All edges gilt. Chemise of brick-red mottled paper covered card, black calf to spine (which is lettered in the same way as the spine on the book) and fore-edges, lined in tan calf. Card slipcase covered in brick-red mottled paper, edged with black calf. All in immaculate condition. Internally excellent with slight offsetting to title page and elsewhere. A superb book, beautifully illustrated and bound by perhaps the finest French binder of the twentieth century.
In his Carnets, Bonet explained the ideas behind his binding for Les Idylles: "The guiding principle behind the bindings of this series is to use those colours – black, white and shades of orange – that are found in the illustrations". Bonet therefore responds not to the form of Laurens's designs but aims at a free interpretation based on colour and structure with the intersecting quadrangles referencing Laurens's "deconstructed" cubist work. The binding was executed by Rene Desmules and gilded by Mondage.
Paul Bonet (1889-1971) came to bookbinding in his thirties after a career in fashion. He was also a bibliophile. Disappointed by the quality of the binding on the books he bought for his own collection, he learnt the art of bookbinding. His work was exhibited at the Salon des Artistes Decorateurs and he quickly became established as one of the finest binders of the time. For Bonet a binding is more than just decorative: it must "express the spirit of the books without falling into the vulgar picturesque". This is binding as art, not mere design.