French Decorative Bookbinding - Eighteenth Century

Pierre-Paul Dubuisson employed as "doreur" by Jacques-Antoine Derome

Planche XXVII detail

Thoinan 1893, Planche XXVII detail.

As stated on the previous page, Thoinan in his 1893 book, suggests that Jacques-Antoine Derome may have employed a 'doreur" to do the decorative gold tooling on books that he bound. Thoinan provided an example of this tooling in his Planche XXVII. Above I have reproduced an enlarged detail of Thoinan's planche. To make a really accurate comparative study of these imprints I needed to find another binding attributed to Jacques-Antoine Derome with similar imprints but that is of a better reproduction quality. Fortunately we discover just that, on the back cover of  John P. Harthan's 1984 publication Bookbindings (Victoria and Albert Museum).

click to enlarge

An enlargement of the back cover of  John P. Harthan's 1984 publication Bookbindings (Victoria and Albert Museum)..
(click on this image to see a greater enlargement).

This same binding has been reproduced by Harthan on page 142, Plate 5, he describes this binding as "Mosaic binding probably designed and bound by Jacques-Antoine Derome l'aine" and gives the exact dimensions  of 199x129 mm. Also he gives the title as  Heures presentees a Madame la Dauphine, Paris  (c. 1745). This is a great bonus as it may be that this binding was actually made close to that date. Once I had the plate and the cover correctly resized I tried to compare the imprints with another Dubuisson binding which is found in Rahir's 1910 catalogue item #217. This is a copy of Dubuisson's own book Armorial Des Principales Maisons et Familles du Royaume, Paris 1757, this is an important date as Dubuisson was soon to become Royal binder, replacing Padeloup in 1758. Pierre-Paul Dubuisson, was a specialized expert in heraldic designs. This binding which bears the arms of the Queen painted under mica, is further decorated with heraldic symbols that are copies of those found within the Queen's armorial shield, these have been placed in the corners of the dentelle as well as on the spine... thus we can hardly doubt that Dubuisson was the designer and doreur of this binding.

Below, in Comparative Diagram 1, I compare the imprints from #217 (previously catalogued as pd-8), with Harthan's example as well as Thoinan's illustrated example. The small white squares are exactly 1 x 1 mm.

comparative Diagram 1

Comparative Diagram 1 - pd-8

Next I would like to draw your attention to a very significant and easily recognized imprint, previously catalogued as pd-21. I show it below in Comparative Diagram 2, where the Harthan example is compared to the Thoinan example, the reader is bound to point out some differences however as we can also show Michel's photograveur of this same imprint, and even though I have but a very poor copy, we can still see that Thoinan's illustrated copy, is not quite accurate, and that the missing details are shown in the photograveur. Therefore it is quite possible that these imprints have been made by the same tool. A further comparative diagram of examples of this imprint reveal that it is often partially obscured or embellished with other tooling. Therefore I include here an enlarged reproduction of the extracted imprint.

comparative diagram 2

Comparative Diagram 2 - pd-21

comparative diagram 3

Comparative Diagram 3 - pd-21, assorted examples

pd-21a and pd-21b

You might wonder why, I have gone to such lengths to show this tool. Firstly, owing to its curious shape and irregular form, it is quite easy to see in the midst of so many other imprints. What I am going to show now is yet another important revelation in terms of Dubuisson's presence as the most popular doreur of the 18th century. And yet one of the least known artists. I have discovered, through an indepth study of his tools that his work has been attributed by error, not only to Jacques-Antoine Derome as well as Nicolas Denis Derome aka Derome le Jeune, but also to Douceur, and Padeloup. On the next page I am going to show imprint pd-21 on a binding that has been signed by Padeloup. This will clear up two problems, because if the pd-21 imprint appears on a Padeloup binding it must not then belong to Jacques-Antoine Derome, and as we can prove that all the other imprints on this binding derive from Dubuisson tools, imprint pd-21 then obviously also derives from a Dubuisson tool.

click on this link to go to the next page: Signed by Padeloup, with gold tooling by Dubuisson!

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