Encyclopedic description of the French Army’s various divisions, including statistical information and numerous color plates of uniforms by Edouard Detaille, then France’s pre-eminent painter of military subjects. There are two volumes bound into one folio edition, the so called Seventh Design Edition. The first volume is divided into staff, schools, infantry, and cavalry. The second includes special weapons, indigenous corps, auxiliary corps, and the navy. There are 128 numbered pages in the first volume and 116 in the second, plus the title pages, tables of contents and many unpaginated color plates. The cover features a detailed gilt illustration of military paraphernalia.
Jean-Baptiste-Edouard Detaille was one of the most popular painters of the French School in the 19th century. He specialized in historical and battlefield scenes, and was a quasi-official painter of the French army. His works were admired by his contemporaries for their highly developed compositions, as well as expressiveness and accurate details. Born in Paris, Detaille began studying under Jean-Louis-Ernest Meissonier at age 17, and made his Salon debut in 1867 with a painting of Meissonier’s studio. He then traveled in Spain and Algeria with three other young artists. He returned at the beginning of the Franco-Prussian War in 1870, and obtained a staff position accompanying a French general, which allowed him to view the campaign firsthand and solidified his interest and expertise in military subjects. A number of his subsequent paintings of the Siege of Paris (1870-71) are in the collection of the museum at Versailles. In collaboration with Alphonse de Neuville, he painted two panoramas, one of Champigny and one of Rezonville. A prolific artist, he exhibited regularly at the Paris Salons, winning several prizes, including one in 1888 for his celebrated painting The Dream, popularized through engravings. He was honored with membership in the Institute in 1892, and became a chevalier of the Legion of Honor in 1872, rising to the status of commander in 1897. His works are in the collections of some of the world’s great museums, including the Hermitage, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts.
Condition: Interior contents generally very good with the usual light overall toning and wear. Covers also very good with light overall soiling and some fraying to extremities of spine, though largely intact.
Bénézit, E. Dictionnaire critique et documentaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs. France: Librairie Gründ, 1966. Vol. 3, pp. 227-228.
“(Jean-Baptiste-)Edouard Detaille.” The Grove Dictionary of Art. New York: Macmillan. 2000. Artnet.com. http://www.artnet.com/library/02/0224/T022462.asp (18 August 2005).