Mallarmé (Stéphane)

Lot 41
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Mallarmé (Stéphane)
Verse and Prose. Morceaux choisis. With a portrait by James M. N. Whistler. Paris, Perrin & Cie, 1893 [completed printing November 15, 1892]. Partly first edition (18.5 x 12.5 cm). Binding: Full brown morocco with lining, first cover decorated with Mallarmé's engraved monogram, green cloth lining and endpapers, untrimmed, first cover retained, slipcase (bound circa 1930). Small paper loss at the top of the dedication leaf; the front cover, preserved, has angular losses - it has been doubled by the bookbinder. Renoir's copy dedicated by Mallarmé "between old friends", a highly significant avant-garde art-poetry association, but also an unfailing friendship. The dedication says it all: "A Renoir entre vieux amis SM". Mallarmé was one of the writers who best appreciated and understood Impressionism, right from its origins, as evidenced by his 1876 article Édouard Manet et les impressionnistes. In it, he credits Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919), a year his senior, with introducing the plein-air technique to interior scenes. He even seemed to disdain paintings produced before Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe or Olympia. Henri de Régnier, a familiar figure at Tuesdays in the Rue de Rome, noted that he had never heard him mention any of the great names of early pictorial art, whether Rembrandt or Michelangelo, Velasquez or Rembrandt... But Mallarmé knew how to evoke the Impressionists admirably, and no writer was perhaps so intimately linked with them. Renoir, for example, that old friend, photographed with Mallarmé in 1895 by Degas, in what Paul Valéry said was the closest portrait of the poet to the one by Whistler that adorns the present volume. By the time Vers et Prose appeared, twenty years had passed since their first meeting at La Nouvelle Athènes, where the young avant-garde gathered around Manet. It was Manet, who had befriended Mallarmé in the salon of Nina de Callias, who brought him there. All this little world met at each other's homes, at Manet's on rue de Saint-Pétersbourg, at Mallarmé's on rue de Rome, or at Berthe Morisot's and Eugène Manet's homes. Renoir and Mallarmé, Duret, Astruc, Degas, Caillebotte and others were the young couple's regular guests. The poet dreamt of his Tiroir de laque, for which Degas, John Lewis Brown, Morisot, Monet and Renoir had promised images, but only Renoir kept his word, engraving a luscious female apparition in the image of his models, an engraving that would eventually become the frontispiece of Pages, published by Mallarmé in 1891. In fact, it was Renoir's only original illustration for a book. Provenance: Pierre-Auguste Renoir.
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