Fruits, flowers and fantastical figures

The book Fleurs, fruits et légumes du jour / par Alfred Le Petit ; légendes de H. Briollet (8001.b.156), published in 1871, recently crossed my desk. A book of whimsical political caricatures, it is composed of 32 plates issued in a portfolio; each plate comprises a title, cartoon (in colour) and a brief satirical rhyme or poem. The subjects are generals, intellectuals and politicians (all men, this being 19th century France), with a specific focus on the Franco-Prussian war and the Paris Commune of 1871.

Fleurs, fruits & légumes du jour (8001.b.156) - Title page

Fleurs, fruits & légumes du jour (8001.b.156) – Title page

When adding books to the Cambridge University Library catalogue, we are usually able to copy records from other library catalogues. In the case of the record for this book, a previous cataloguing librarian (possibly in UNC Chapel Hill) added the information that “Many plates appear to be based on the anthropomorphized flowers of J.J. Grandville (Les fleurs animées, originally published 1847)”. This is the kind of information that can be useful for people searching the library catalogue (it means that both books will turn up in a keyword search), and it is also an interesting and hopefully worthwhile piece of information for anyone interested in either of these two works. Not only does copying records from other libraries save us valuable time, it also allows our catalogue to reflect other peoples’ research and knowledge.

Our earliest copy of Les fleurs animées (an 1847 edition) stands at S735.b.84.3 (there are also two copies from 1862, a Spanish 1878 edition and an English-language edition from 1981), and there are decent-quality scans online. While they’re obviously similar, I don’t see any direct ties between the two sets of illustrations. Is the note therefore accurate and worth leaving in the record? I think so: this is beyond my level of comfort with the history of illustration but they are obviously related works.

Gallica (the Bibliothèque Nationale de France’s portal for digitised material) provides access to this collection of images, but unfortunately their scans are in black and white.

 

Josh Hutchinson

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