French Decorative Bookbinding - Eighteenth Century

Jean-Pierre Jubert fl. 1771 - 1793?
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(click on this image to see an enlargement).

1140 description

The binding shown above is from the 1936 Rahir catalogue, Vol. IV, item 1140. In the description of this item, we discover that this is a binding signed by Jean-Pierre Jubert, that it bears arms of Marie-Antoinette, and that it was reproduced in color in Gruel's Manuel de Amateur de reliures. I. p.114. When I first saw this binding I was surprised to see such an obvious signature. In the past few weeks we have been looking very closely at the Dubuisson bindings and their relationship to bindings by Derome. While looking again at the Derome bindings, I returned to look at this binding by Jubert, it was as though another mysterious door was opening.

Jubert's signature

Enlarged detail, signed JUBERT - F. by Jean-Pierre Jubert c. 1780,
reproduced from a 1936 Rahir catalogue, item #1140.

In Thoinan's short biography of Jubert, he states that Jean-Pierre Jubert became a licenced binder (or doreur) in 1771, this is about 10 years after Derome le jeune began his career. Thoinan goes on to mention among other things, the fact that Gruel reproduced a binding signed by Jubert. Thus these facts coincide and the binding reproduced above is the one to which Thoinan is referring, We are lucky indeed to have this high quality reproduction from the Rahir Catalogue, from it, we can extract and catalogue some of Jubert's most important tools. However if we then read further to see what Thoinan has to say about Derome le jeune, we find that he has provided us with an illustrated reproduction of a Derome binding (Planche XXIX).

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Thoinan Planche XXIX, binding with a dentelle that Thoinan attributes to Derome le jeune.
(click on this image to see an enlargement).


Comparative Diagram 1- signed Jubert binding vs Thoinan Planche XXIX.

In Comparative Diagram 1, I have simply reproduced both bindings at the same scale. It is no coincidence that the double filet and roll match up perfectly, here we see many of the same tools, there is only one imprint that looks like it may from a Derome tool otherwise this is 99% Jubert tools and Jubert tooling. If you are not in a state of shock after realizing what has happened here, you will be when you discover that some of the biggest experts, Rahir, Dacier, and Esmerian, all accepted Thoinan's version of what a Derome looks like, even though there is nearly complete absence of any of Deromes famous tools! Below I reproduce part of a typical Derome, where we see many of the tools that are found on most of his bindings, none of the Derome imprints shown here are found on the signed Jubert binding above (Rahir 1140), nor are any present in Thoinan's illustration (Planche XXIX).

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Detail from shelfmark c9c1, attributed to Derome le jeune,
reproduced from The British Library Database of Bookbindings.

After discovering that almost everyone was attributing to Derome, bindings that must have been decorated by Jubert. I went through all the catalogues I could find, looking for Jubert's work. Now after assembling together all the bindings that bear the same imprints as those found on the signed Jubert binding, I realize that I have uncovered a bewildering delemma. At least three of these bindings contain a Derome le jeune signature ticket, and on many of the bindings we find the imprints of two or three Derome tools. I decided to put all these bindings together on one page. Below I have reproduced this at a reduced size, (click on the image to see an enlargement).

The bindings have all been reproduced at the same scale and the enlargement is full size. The original catalogue and plate numbers have been retained as well as the occasional "attributed to Derome" text. An enlarged imprint below a binding indicates the particular Derome tool that has been employed on this binding. Many bindings have been made without the use of Derome tools. On one particular binding, (the largest in the collection below, #71), as many as 8 Derome tools have been employed, however it must be seen as an isolated case (also note the unusual roulette on this binding). Bindings can be grouped by date or corner fleurons. In most cases the dates shown are only approximate however there may be a chronological order in the use of a particular fleuron in the corners. The oldest Jubert binding found so far in my search, is a small binding that dates from 1793, shown at the far right, with the boards at an angle. This is proof, if you like, that Jubert made this sort of binding without any help from Derome who died around 1788. The binding shown immediately below this is undated but exhibits the same corner fleuron and other shared characteristics.

So I suppose the question will boil down to whether or not Jubert worked for Derome. If Derome has his tickets in these bindings I think we can assume that Jubert may have worked for him. However the signature of Jubert on a binding that bears the arms of the Queen Marie Antoinette as well as another Jubert binding with the same coat of arms, seems also to suggest that Jubert must have been a recognized binder/doreur in his own right.

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Gold tooled dentelles by Jean-Pierre Jubert.
(click on this image to see an enlargement).

On the next few pages I will present individually some of the more important bindings shown above. However I must first present a preliminary catalogue of the Jubert imprints, with a number of comparative diagrams to show how they differ from those of Dubuisson or Derome, or are, in some cases, the same as those of Derome.

click on this link to go to the next page: Jean-Pierre Jubert - Imprint catalogue

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