MacDougall Auctions 28 November 2008

28 November 2008

Artist Index / Full Catalogue

Le Livre de la Marquise, Recueil de Poesie et de Prose

* 7. SOMOV, CONSTANTINE 1869-1939

Le Livre de la Marquise, Recueil de Poesie et de Prose An artist’s copy, Franz Blei, Venise: Chez Cazzo et Coglioni, St. Petersburg: Golicke and Wilborg, 1918. 253 pages with illustrations in the text, additional illustrative title, half-title and 31 plates, some coloured

25.5 by 19.5 cm.

Inscribed and dated in pencil with dedication “A mon amie Henriette/ 5 mars 1919”, in green morocco, gilt rules to covers, gilt spine with raised bands, lettered in gold, uncut except top edge, top edge gilt, cream silk endpapers, excellent condition.

Provenance: Private collection, USA.

Le Livre de la Marquise presented here for auction is the artist’s copy and is a rare example of an uncensored edition with additional erotic plates. This French version of a German rococo book of erotic poetry is illustrated by Somov. Two published versions of the book exist: one of 196 pages and an extended, uncensored edition, entitled Bolshaia Uncensored Marquise, with 253 pages, printed by the pseudonymous publishing company, Cazzo e Coglioni, St. Petersburg (St. Petersburg: Golicke and Wilborg).

Le Livre de la Marquise is rightly considered one of the peaks of Russian literary graphic art. The leading bibliophile E. F. Gollerbakh wrote: ‘It brought together, like some form of conjuring trick, both refined retrospectivism and a fashionable eroticism in its aesthetic perception of the world; it reflected the dreamy cult of the eighteenth century, with its enchanting shamelessness, its indecency and its tense sensuality. In the sense of artistic ideology, there is no forward movement in this book, no searching; yet it is unarguably remarkable in itself, “as a thing”. It is imbued to the full with a spirit of “beautiful and airy trifles, and love of the nights, sometimes caressing, sometimes stifling”, and clings very strictly to a single graphic style.

Le Livre de la Marquise, Recueil de Poesie et de Prose
Le Livre de la Marquise, Recueil de Poesie et de Prose

Notes on symbols:
* Indicates 5% Import Duty Charge applies.
Ω Indicates 20% Import Duty Charge applies.
§ Indicates Artist's Resale Right applies.
† Indicates Standard VAT scheme applies, and the rate of 20% VAT will be charged on both hammer price and premium.