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Les Fleurs du Mal.

Illustrations Decoratives par André Domin.

Paris: René Kieffer, 1920 Stock Code: 145732
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In the superb Kieffer binding

First Kieffer edition, first printing, in a striking Kieffer binding, number 254 of 485 copies only, of Baudelaire's best-known poetry and including the banned poems, here delicately illustrated by Domin.

First published in 1857 by Baudelaire's friend Auguste Poulet Malassis, Les Fleurs du Mal's principal themes of sex and death (lesbianism, profane love, melancholy, the corruption of the city, lost innocence and the oppressiveness of living) were considered scandalous. Baudelaire, his publisher, and the printer were successfully prosecuted and fined for offending public morals. Many notables, including Victor Hugo rallied Baudelaire's cause and condemned the sentence. Baudelaire did not appeal the judgment but his fine was reduced and six of the poems were suppressed, but printed later as Les Épaves (The Wrecks, Brussels, 1866). This edition, published in 1920, does include the 6 suppressed poems: "Les Bijoux", "Le Léthé", "À Celle qui est trop gaie", "Lesbos", "Femmes damnées", and " Les Métamorphoses du Vampire", all of which were only reinstated nearly a century later, on 11 May 1949, when the judgment was officially reversed.

René Kieffer (1875-1964), worked for ten years at the famed Chambolle-Duru bindery in Paris before establishing his own workshop in 1903 and going on to become one of the leading binders in Paris. In 1909 he launched himself in the edition of illustrated luxury books. He learned the trade from Georges Crès, and from Auguste Blaizot who joined his name to the first editions of René Kieffer; even the Mercure de France entrusted him with the direction of some volumes for their own editions. From 1919 to 1923, he executed bindings designed by Pierre Legrain for Jacques Doucet, and his workshop quickly became important, producing up to 2,000 volumes a year, with bindings of all kinds, from the most luxurious to the more modest one. His bookshop opened in 1923, and his three activities were then combined in one place. Kieffer's consistent endeavour was to retain large, poorly published texts, have them illustrated by the great names of the time, and when possible, offer them in luxury or publisher's bindings.

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Quarto (199 x 160 mm). Publisher's deluxe binding (with his ticket to front free endpaper verso) in brown morocco preserving the original black paper wrappers, titles in gilt direct to spine, spine and boards elaborately blocked in blind with floral motifs repeating in-text illustrations, gilt and black patterned endpapers, top edge gilt, others untrimmed.


26 hand-finished pochoir plates heightened in gilt, numerous culs-de-lampe, hand-designed and coloured front wrapper lettered in gilt, and 2 pp. of publisher's advertisements at end.


Contemporary bookseller's ticket to front pastedown. Discreet colour restoration, the binding otherwise sound and firm, small pink stains to pp. 150-1 slightly affecting text and plate, else internally fresh and clean; an attractive copy.


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