French Decorative Bookbinding - Eighteenth Century

Pierre-Paul Dubuisson 1753

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A mosaic Masterpiece from the workshop of Pierre-Paul Dubuisson.
(image from the Gulbenkian Museum Inv. LA194)

The binding shown above can be found on the web site of the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum. This Dubuisson binding is one where you do not see a lot of distinctive gold tooled imprints that you could easily identify. This binding may have fooled some experts in the past however it does have Pierre-Paul Dubuisson's ticket pasted inside and thus can only be another work of the master himself.

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Pierre-Paul Dubuisson's ticket 1753 designed by his own hand.
(click on this image to see an enlargement)

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Comparative Diagram 1 - Assorted Almanach Royal bindings by Pierre-Paul Dubuisson 1749 - 1758,
(click to see an enlargement).

In Comparative Diagram 1, I have loosely arranged some Almanach Royal examples, one must bear in mind that these bindings were almost always made within a year of the printing date. Therefore we can get an idea of chronological progressions in Dubuisson's work, probably we need many more examples to get an absolute fix on the introduction of new techniques. Here for example we see that the use of foil in the mosaics, seems to appear from 1753 onward and then was very popular for at least 2 decades. Cream colored morocco leathers with very similar spine decorations and or the lack of raised bands are seen from 1752-1758. The two bindings shown at 'n' had to be shown as is, because this was the only way to show an important 1758 binding which is behind a 1772 binding that Dubuisson did not bind but probably came from the Dubuisson workshops. The bindings a, b , c, are plaque bindings and shown as a sort of beginning to the mosaics, the plaques have arms that have been painted in as opposed the the usual large armorial stamps in gilt,. The Mosaics that appear in 1749 or earlier 'd' and 'e' appear as the sign of things to come, and yet have a restrospective look comparable with bindings that appeared some 3 decades earlier. From my scattered searches, it appears that we do not see any of the Dubuission imprints/tools that I have catalogued, on Almanach Royal bindings prior to 1746. This suggests that his work as a doreur started in 1746. If Pierre-Paul Dubuisson was born in 1707 as some have suggested, one wonders what he was doing up until when he officially became a binder in 1746. We can see by the example below that plaques for the Almanach Royal were being made as early as 1740.

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Plaque decorated 1740 Almanach Royal

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Enlarged Almanach Royal decorated with plaque 184f (after Rahir 1910)

At the moment I cannot say whether Rene Dubuisson made this early Almamach plaque catalogued as No. 184f in the 1910 Paris publication entitled LIVRES DANS DE RICHES RELIURES by Édouard Rahir. Nor can I say whether this was the first example of the Almanach plaques, however what we can see in this plaque are the design archetypes for the future tools Pierre-Paul Dubuisson, tools that he would be using several years later. Tools that would become the main stay of French decorative bookbinding for the next 40 years

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Comparative Diagram 2 - Dubuisson imprints vs plaque 184f.

In his classification of these plaques Rahir chose a plaque that he found on a 1744 Almanach royal, (pre Pierre-Paul Dubuisson tools) as his first model, '184a', This plaque could almost be seen as an extraordinary vision of the future, 40 years later the archetypal motifs within the design of this plaque would be turned into distinct individual tools. The Dubuisson workshops kept this and the other Almanach plaques in service for decades, Pierre- Paul Dubuisson started using individual tools following the models of the plaques and his tools were then copied by Derome le Jeune, Jubert, Douceur and many others as the whole art form snow balled, into a dentelle frensy. The motifs were often mistakenly attributed to Padeloup however history will probably show that either Rene Dubuisson or his son were in fact, the designers of these plaques and subsequent tools that were to have a major impact on the decoration of bookbindings in the second half of the 18th century

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Enlarged Almanach Royal binding decorated with plaque 184a (after Rahir 1910).

Now we come to another Almanach Royal decorated with Dubuisson plaque 184f in 1759 almost 20 years after the 1740 example and appearently still in service. The reason I want to show this binding, (that also has Dubuisson's ticket inside), is that here we see the same palette used at the base of the spine. Shown below in Comparative Diagram 3.

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Comparative Diagram 3 - Dubuisson palettes


Comparative Diagram 4 - Dubuisson imprint pd-6-2 vs 1753 corner imprint.

Finally I present in Comparative Diagram 4, one final bit of evidence that shows the 1753 binding at the top of the page is the work of Dubuisson, imprint pd-6-2.

click here to return to the Dubuisson mosaic INDEX.

click here to see to an INDEX of the 2017 pages.

click here to return to the Virtual Bookbindings HOME page.

see below links to previous work

Atelier I B 31/10/2014

Icons of the Renaissance 06/02/2014

Atelier au trefle 22/12/2014 most recent page

Atelier Royal 1518 - 1524 09/11/2014

Unraveling G. D. Hobson's book on fanfares 27/11/2014

16c fanfare on eBay 23/11/2014

another Padeloup binding on eBay 07/12/2014

Rare Padeloup binding on eBay 15/11/2014

the last fanfare

Pierre-Paul Dubuisson's work attributed to Derone le jeune 23/10/2014 (unfinished work now finished)

Pierre-Paul Dubuisson's work attributed to Douceur 22/10/2014 (an under contruction page finished at last)

Louis-Marie Michon - the 1956 Disaster 19/10/2014 (an unfinished page finished at last)

Louis XII Dolphins motif 03/02/2014

Aristophanes Binder 1543 02/02/2014

Atelier des reliures LOUIS XII - Atlas Catalan 12/01/2014

Atelier des reliures LOUIS XII - FRANÇOIS Ier - Linacre bindings 05/01/2014

Atelier des reliures LOUIS XII - FRANÇOIS Ier c. 1500-1520

Atelier des reliures LOUIS XII - FRANÇOIS Ier - Chronology 16/01/2014

Atelier des reliures LOUIS XII - FRANÇOIS Ier - Inventory - binding No. 29 19/01/2014

Atelier des reliures LOUIS XII - FRANÇOIS Ier - Inventory - binding No. 39 19/01/2014

Atelier des reliures LOUIS XII - FRANÇOIS Ier - The mysterious disappearance of François Tissard d'Amboise 23/01/2014

Atelier des reliures LOUIS XII - FRANÇOIS Ier - The Simon Vostre fiasco 18/01/2014

L'Atelier Simon Vostre 1486-1521 01/01/2014

L'Atelier de Pierre Roffet 1511-1533 - TOOL CATALOGUE 26/01/2014

L'Atelier de Pierre Roffet 1511-1533 27/12/2013

Pierre Roffet - fleur-de-lis binder 28/12/2013

Fleur-de-lis Binder 1525-1540 27/11/2013

Du Saix Master 02/12/2013

Atelier Étienne Roffet 1538-1549 12/12/2013

Atelier Jean Picard 1538-1547

Imitative Binder c.1540 15/12/2013

Salel Binder 1540 17/11/2013

Atelier Ruette 1606-1669 INVENTORY

Atelier Macé Ruette 1606-1644

Atelier du Maitre Doreur 1622-1638

Atelier Antoine Ruette 1638-1669

Atelier des Caumartin 1652-1715

Atelier de Charenton 1670-1685

Atelier Luc-Antoine Boyet 1685-1733

Atelier Antoine-Michel Padeloup. dit Le Jeune 1685-1758

Atelier Louis Douceur 1721-1769

Atelier Pierre-Paul Dubuisson 1746-1762

Atelier Nicolas-Denis Derome, dit Derome le Jeune 1761-1788

Atelier Jean-Pierre Jubert, 1771-1793?

Atelier MM binder, 1770-179-?

A word of Caution

Even experts are sometimes wrong, before you spend thousands on a book, please do your own research! Just because I say a certain binding can be attributed to le Maitre isn't any kind of guarantee, don't take my word for it, go a step further and get your own proof. In these pages I have provided you with a way of doing just that.

Virtual Bookings, created by L. A. Miller return to the Home page of VIRTUAL BOOKBINDINGS