Our Notes & References
One of only 10 copies on imperial Japan paper (this one num. 6), extra-illustrated with a woodcut loosely inserted, signed and dedicated by Lebedeff to a French bibliophile. An excellent example, unopened.
Jean Lébédeff (or Ivan Konstantinovich Lebedev, 1884-1972), from Bogorodsk, worked as a sailor along the Volga until 1908, when he was forced to leave Russia for his anti-tsarist stance. In France he trained in xylography at the Académie des Beaux Arts before joining that of Montparnasse. His recognisable technique made him an influential book illustrator in France.
Conceived as a celebration of Lebedeff’s entire corpus, this Ymaigier introduces Lébédeff as ‘a great devil of a man…who plainly renovated the beautiful tradition of the French illustrated book’. Spanning winter landscapes, icons, portraits, biblical scenes and lively initials, the wood engravings, published here often for the first time, employ an eminently folkloric imagery influenced on the one hand by the realism of daily life, on the other by popular Russian stories, fables and legends of the saints. A catalogue of his books, ex-libris, prints and wood engravings is appended at the end.
A handsomely illustrated and exquisitely produced tribute to a major artist of the 20th-century Russian diaspora. The edition was limited to 575 copies overall.
This example unusually includes the subscription leaflet and a tipped-in, signed ‘artist proof’ xylography on China paper, dated 1939, and inscribed by Lebedeff to Florentin Mouret, a bibliophile from Avignon.