Maitres et amis

Paul Valéry (1871 - 1945)
Jacques Beltrand (1874 - 1977)
Maitres et amis, cover

Jacques Beltrand hailed from an artistic family. His father was engraver Tony Beltrand, and his brothers Camille and Georges Beltrandalso worked as graphic artists. Jacques Beltrand made wood-engravings based on aquarelles and paintings, but also worked as a printer of wood-engravings and as a publisher whose books included illustrated works by Maurice Denis. This book by Paul Valéry takes up a remarkable place within his work, because it contains 16 wood-engravings in colour after Bertrand's own design. It was printed on his presses in an edition of 200 copies.

The texts are reprints of essays about Descartes, Baudelaire, Berthe, Morisot, Mallarmé, and others. These 'friends and masters' are portrayed by Beltrand in square wood-engravings. A separate block had to be cut for each colour, which required very precise printing, because the slightest deviation would disturb the image. This has happened in one or two prints in this copy, but not in the portraits of Descartes or Frans Hals. The printing of colour wood-engravings generally leads to a high percentage of defectives, which makes it an expensive procedure. Beltrand succeeded in suggesting the freedom of a sketch or a wash drawing in his wood-engravings.

The copy in the Koopman Collection was purchased by collector Louis Koopman at the auction of the Louis Barthou collection, held from 2 to 4 March 1936 in Paris. Koopman employed Parisian book dealer Caffin, with whom he did business frequently. Once he had acquired it, Caffin passed the book on to the author with the request to write a special dedication to Koopman in the front of the book, which Valéry did- after some urging- above Barthou's bookplate. That single dedication cost Caffin all his powers of persuasion, and although Koopman would have liked to have other books of his signed by Paul Valéry as well, Chaffin found it inadvisable to press the matter any further.

  • Dedication from Paul Valéry to Louis Koopman

Bibliographical description

Maîtres et amis / Paul Valéry ; camaïeux de Jacques Beltrand. - Paris : [Beltrand], 1927. - 163 p. : ill. ; 32 cm
Jacques Beltrand; Marcel Lacou & Émile Lainé
200 copies
This copy:
Number 111 of 200 on Vélin
With autograph dedication from the author to Louis Koopman; With a letter from bookseller Auguste Blaizot and a letter from Édouard Loewy to Louis Koopman and with six pages from the auction catalogue of Louis Barthou
Bénézit 2-78/79 ; Carteret IV-386 ; Édouard-Joseph I-106 ; Mahé compl.-63
Koopm A 426


  • Georges Karaïskakis, François Chapon, Bibliographie des œuvres de Paul Valéry publiées de 1889 à 1965. Paris, Librairie Auguste Blaizot, 1976