The Liberation of Paris, 19-29 August 1944: “Images de notre délivrance” by Georges Duhamel and Claude Lepape

1On the 75th anniversary of the Liberation of Paris, we would like to talk about Images de notre délivrance (Liberation.a.7), published in December 1944 by the Editions du Pavois (the publisher in 1946 of L’Univers concentrationnaire by David Rousset, which was awarded the Renaudot prize, Liberation.c.119 and Liberation.c.918). The book, clearly of a bibliophile nature, is presented by the editor as a documentary, the result of an accidental collaboration between a writer, Georges Duhamel (1884-1966), and an artist, Claude Lepape (1913-1994), both reacting to a unique historical event:

Ce livre est un document. Il est né de la rencontre fortuite de deux sensibilités. L’Ecrivain et le Dessinateur ne se sont pas concertés, mais leurs réactions, si diverses et en même temps si proches, constituent l’un des documents les plus émouvants sur les glorieuses journées de la libération.

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“Sombre est noir” by Amy Bakaloff and Óscar Domínguez (1945): war poetry, from anthologies to illustrated collections

Bakaloff Amy, Sombre est noir, orné d’une gravure à l’eau-forte et de deux dessins de Domínguez. Paris, 1945. Liberation.b.356

One of the last books acquired through the Liberation collection is Amy Bakaloff’s Sombre est noir (Liberation.b.356), a collection of French poetry written during the Second World War and dedicated to Paul Éluard and Georges Hugnet, a writer and publisher engaged in the Résistance. It includes an engraving signed by Óscar Domínguez and two drawings. It is a rare work, one of 232 copies, some numbered on Annam paper, some on blue vellum, and some on vélin des Marais. Continue reading

Remo Giatti’s prints in the Cambridge Diane française, “Musée de Poche” collection

Giatti’s original print for Le livre et sa matière (2018)

In an earlier blog post, I talked about the artist books donation of the Diane française publisher “Musée de Poche” collection to Cambridge University Library. One of the works I discovered in this series is that of Remo Giatti, an artist form Northern Italy who uses a variety of techniques (engraving, lithography, drawing and collage…), and whose prints often include elements in “relief”. His work featured on the cover of the catalogue (F201.a.4.1), accompanied in the numbered Cambridge copy by an original print. Giatti also contributed to four “Musée de Poche” books (three of them are double volumes containing up to eight prints).

Le plus beau poème du monde est un poème d’amour (2014) by the Italian poet Arturo Schwarz, translated into French by Raphael Monticelli and inspired by Lucretius is a tribute to the beloved woman and her body through the elements. In this context, Giatti’s first and last prints evoke the stains of biological elements enlarged through a microscope, and the cracks forming on an arid soil in shades of grey. In the central double print, a grey shape with lines, strokes and cracks, pops up dramatically towards the viewer. It is set on top of another print which acts as a colourful brown and green background for the other one, reusing patterns of bubbles, stains and lines, and creating a strange effect of alignment and perspective from the top to the bottom print. Continue reading

Performance reviews, pictures and advertisement: La scène (Paris, 1877-1888)

Cambridge University Library recently acquired the French periodical La scène: revue des succès dramatiques, décorations complètes, costumes coloriés, directed and illustrated by Jules Gaildrau and written by his colleague E. Grand, ranging from October 1877 to January 1888 (Rare books, 8000.a.95). The publication (43 issues in total) was intended to appear twice a month; in reality, though, it was more irregular, with fewer reviews in 1880-1882 and 1885-1888 (and no review at all in 1887). It is a very rare set, as far as we know, only held at the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris.

T. 1 no 1, 1877: Review of the opéra-comique Les cloches de Corneville (Robert Planquette), p. 1

La scène is a wonderful source recording the Parisian theatrical life of the second part of the 19th century, telling us of its “dramatic successes”, and including information such as the date and place of the first performance, the names of music directors, costume designers, dressmakers, set designers, as well as those of the actors. Each issue is made up of four pages of text summarising the plot and reviewing the performance of the actors or singers and the staging, with black and white illustrations of the different sets; four pages of advertisements; and a coloured plate divided into four levels featuring the actors in their costumes. The periodical was available for purchase (for 1 franc, and later 1 franc 50) at the head office as well as in bookshops, and customers could pay for subscriptions of three months, six months, or a year. In the later period, advertisements encouraged the retrospective purchase of a whole set of the publication. Continue reading

“Soyez réalistes, demandez l’impossible” May 1968 France

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S950.c.201.1213

“Be realistic, ask the impossible” was one of the many slogans of the French unrest in May-June 1968. May last year was the 50th anniversary of the upheaval, which arouses mixed feelings in French society, depending on the political ideas of each individual. There was a debate in 2017 about Emmanuel Macron’s idea of celebrating May 68, when it had been an anti-governmental, non-institutionalised movement; it certainly led to many cultural events in 2018, including the BnF exhibition: The spirit(s) of May 68. Cambridge University Library purchased many of the publications on May 68 which came out around the time of the anniversary, including 1968 : de grands soirs en petits matins (C214.c.7787) and L’esprit de mai 68 (C205.d.9998). Here we highlight some of the books we have received in the past year or so. Continue reading