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KONDAKOV, Nikodim Pavlovich.

Histoire et monuments des emaux byzantins.

Collection de Mr. A. W. Zwenigorodskoi.

Frankfurt: [A. Osterrieth], 1892 Stock Code: 141106
£18,750.00
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"A masterpiece of the Russian printing industry"

First and limited edition, number 24 of 200 copies printed in French; a very fine copy of this lavish and sumptuously illustrated celebration of the Zwenigorodskoi collection of Byzantine enamels, "one of the most luxurious publications of the 19th-century" (Federov, pp. 200-1). The portrait frontispiece, included only in those copies given by the collector to a select few, is present.

The wealthy Russian art patron Alexander Zwenigorodskoi spent most of his life assembling a spectacular collection of early medieval Byzantine enamels from the 10th and 11th centuries. For the publication of his masterwork he hired expert illustrators and worked with renowned Russian art historian Kondakov to produce a superlative work, intended to rival Napoleon's L'Imitation de Jésus-Christ (Paris, 1855). "This book is undoubtedly a masterpiece of the Russian printing industry. It has no equals either in terms of workmanship or in terms of the funds involved (it cost 120,000 roubles in gold approximately 200,000 by the exchange rate for 1892)" (Vengerov). Zwenigorodskoi's collection was subsequently purchased by J. P. Morgan in 1910, who donated them to the Metropolitan Museum, New York.

There were 600 copies printed of the Histoire, 200 each in Russian, French, and German, all of which were designated for presentation rather than sale. The presence of the portrait frontispiece of Zwenigorodskoi was "a special mark of favour which identified his friends or individuals whom he held in particular esteem" (Boeck, unpaginated).

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Description

Folio (358 x 275 mm). Original white morocco, elaborate embossed design to spine and covers blocked in gilt and black, gilt turn-ins, geometric multicoloured endpapers, edges gauffered and richly ornamented in gilt, silver, red, and green. With the original multicoloured and gilt silk book marker. Housed in a contemporary green skiver solander box, lined with cream silk, red lifting ribbon, sometime rebacked with matching cloth and red morocco gilt spine label.

Illustrations

Chromolithograph dedication leaf to Tsar Alexander III printed on an embossed silver foil ground, engraved black and white portrait frontispiece of Zwenigorodskoi on india-proof paper, additional chromolithograph pictorial title leaf, limitation leaf prin

Condition

Extremities rubbed, two negligible faint smudges to front cover, very light spotting to a few plates, some wear to box extremities and marks to lining. A fine copy, beautifully preserved.

Bibliography

Fekula 6705 ("magnificent"); Vengerov, Old Russian Books, 77 ("one of the greatest bibliographic rarities"). Elena N. Boeck, "Internationalizing Russia's Byzantine heritage: Medieval enamels and chromolithographic geopolitics", in Andrea Olsen Lam & Rossi

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