Livret de folastries

Year: 1940

Author: Pierre de Ronsard (1524 - 1585)

Artist: Aristide Maillol (1861 - 1944)

Publisher: Éditions Ambroise Vollard

Livret de folastries, cover

Sculptor Aristide Maillol illustrated fourteen books for German, French and Swiss publishers between 1907 and 1944, five of which were published posthumously. He produced wood engravings (for seven books), lithographs (for four books), wood engravings and lithographs (for one book), drawings (for one book), and etchings (also for one book). Some of the texts were derived from the Ancient classics (Homer, Virgil, Ovid, Longus andLucianus), while others dealt with French classics and modern classics like Ronsard and Paul Verlaine.

His most famous book is undoubtedly the monumental edition of Die Eclogen Vergils, published by Cranach Presse in 1926, of which English and French editions were published (besides the German edition) by Harry Kessler, the only private press owner from that period who consistently stimulated international co-operation between artists.

The one book Maillol provided with etchings, Livret de folastries, written by Pierre Ronsard during his youth, appeared in 1938 according to the title page, and in 1939 according to the dust wrapper, but only a few copies were in circulation during those years for exhibitions. It was published by French art dealer/publisher Ambroise Vollard. Lucien Vollard and Martin Fabiani arranged for its circulation in 1940: the last pages were printed in May 1940 under their supervision. The edition consisted of 230 copies, of which the copy in the Koopman Collection is one of 35 copies printed on Japanese paper.

For this edition, Maillol produced 43 etchings on zinc plates. He completed them more than ten years earlier, between May and October 1927. This copy of Ronsard's contains an extra sheet with 6 proofs for the etchings, also on Japanese paper. This proof is extremely rare; there are probably only a few copies of it in existence (Guérin nr. 379). Besides the etchings for this book, Maillol actually produced only a dozen other prints in this medium. The presentation of all of Maillol's etchingsis- like a large number of his wood engravings- erotic in nature, representing romantic couples and naked women. Some of the illustrationsare elaborate in detail, for instance the nature studies, while others are decorative line drawings.

Ambroise Vollard (1866-1939) moved to Montpellier in 1885 from La Réunion, a French island off the eastern coast of Africa, to study law, and then moved to Paris two years later. He started to collect drawings and engravings obsessively, often purchasing them directly from the artists in large numbers for low prices. This would later allow him to make sizeable profits as an art dealer. He achieved success and celebrity through the organisation of a solo exhibition – exceptional at the time – for Cézanne in 1895. As an art dealer, he also published portfolios of prints, which led to yet another activity: he published a 'livre d'artiste' in 1900. He was the first publisher to combine the work of artists with that of modern authors, like Stéphane Mallarmé and Paul Verlaine, envisioning the total integration of words and images. Until his death in July 1939, caused by an automobile accident, 25 of these books were published, one of which appeared in an edition of only a single copy. Nineteen projects that Vollard found unsuitable for distribution for whatever reason at the time were then still shelved. Because of his double role as an art dealer and publisher, he was able to guide the great names of his era – Maurice Denis, Georges Rouault, Pablo Picasso, Edgar Degas, Odilon Redon, Marc Chagall, André Derain – towards the art of book printing.

Bibliographical description

Description: Pierre de Ronsard : livret de folastries, à Janot parisien : plus quelques épigrammes grecs & des dithyrambes chantés au bouc de E. Jodëlle, poète tragiq. / [Pierre de Ronsard] ; avec les eaux-fortes originales d'Aristide Maillol. - Paris : Éditions Ambroise Vollard, 1938 [= 1940]. - 190 p., [16] pl. : ill. ; 24 cm

Printer: Henri Jourde (text) Roger Lacourière (etchings)

Edition: 260 copies

This copy: Number 29 of 30 on Imperial Japanese paper with 'planche d'essai' and with an index on the plates, engraved on wood by Georges Aubert and printed by H. Jourde

Bibliography: Bénézit 9-32 ; Carteret 347 ; Monod 9911 ; Strachan 337

Shelfmark: KW Koopm L 492


  • Aristide Maillol als Illustrator. Neu-Isenburg, Tiessen, 1977
  • Paul van Capelleveen, Sophie Ham, Jordy Joubij, Voices and visions. The Koopman Collection and the Art of the French Book. The Hague, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, National Library of the Netherlands; Zwolle, Waanders, 2009
  • Paul van Capelleveen, Sophie Ham, Jordy Joubij, Voix et visions. La Collection Koopman et l'Art du Livre français. La Haye, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, Bibliothèque nationale des Pays-Bas; Zwolle, Waanders, 2009
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  • Una E. Johnson, Ambroise Vollard, éditeur, 1867-1939: An appreciation and catalogue. New York, Wittenborn, 1944
  • Una E. Johnson, Ambroise Vollard, éditeur: Prints, books, bronzes. Una E. Johnson. New York, Museum of Modern Art, 1977
  • Jean-Paul Morel, C'était Ambroise Vollard. Paris, Fayard, 2007
  • John Rewald, The woodcuts of Aristide Maillol: A complete catalogue with 176 illustrations. New York, Pantheon, 1951