Images de la Vie des Prisonniers de Guerre.
24 Estampes Coloriées par E. L. Boucher. Texte de Mario Meunier. Préface de Pierre Mac-Orlan.Paris: Marcel Seheur, 1920 Stock Code: 135857
First and only edition, number 72 of 175 copies "sur papier de luxe". An extremely delicately produced piece, with each leaf mounted on a thin paper stub, unsurprisingly just five copies on WorldCat - BnF, Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek Münster, Dartmouth College, Yale, and NLA - and no copies traced at auction. A superb eyewitness record, in words and pictures, of incarceration at the prisoner of war camp at Merseburg in Saxony, written, illustrated and published by three inmates. In his preface Mac-Orlan justly privileges Boucher's "beautiful, melancholy and malicious" images, for giving an impression of the camp that is "so striking and so honest as to be almost inexplicable si saisissante et si loyale qu'elle semble inexplicable", singling out in particular that of "the closed washroom door, with enamelled iron water jugs smudged with black spots, awaiting, like fox terriers in front of a rat, opening hour la porte des lavabos fermés, les brocs-à-eau en fer émaillé, maculés de taches noires attendant, tels des fox terriers devant un rat, l'heure de l'ouverture des portes". Boucher has received very little recognition for the inspired illustration work that he undertook during the 1920s, most of it for his former fellow inmate Seheur, who, during a brief publishing career - brought to a premature end by the French crisis of 1934 - also produced books illustrated by Vlaminck and Utrillo. The third of these "three comrades who represented the French soul and its marvellous gaiety representent l'âme française et sa merveilleuse gaîté" during the "darkest calamities" at Merseburg, Mario Meunier, who was responsible for "the essential words, those that had to be said", became after the War one of France's foremost translators and interpreters of ancient Greek culture. A wonderfully humane account of the prisoner of war experience during the First World War, at present sadly virtually unknown, and surely deserving of wider recognition.
Quarto. Original cream paper-covered boards with title in red and black and mounted pochoir illustration to the front board, grey marbled endpapers. Housed in a custom cloth solander box.
43 leaves of light card each mounted on calque paper stubs, 21 with full-page hand-coloured wood-engraved illustrations, one with a double-page hand-coloured panorama of the camp, the remaining text leaves with decorative borders all with tonal tints or s
A few splash marks to spine of box, pale toning to periphery of covers, light bump to one corner. An excellent copy.
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