French Decorative Bookbinding - Eighteenth Century

Pierre-Paul Dubuisson fl 1746-1762

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A mosaic Masterpiece from the workshop of Pierre-Paul Dubuisson.
(image from the Gulbenkian Museum Inv. LA250)

The binding shown above can be found on the web site of the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum. We know from our extensive research of the tools of Pierre-Paul Dubuisson, that the imprints on this binding derive from Dubuisson's tools. He decorated this binding and yet inside we find the ticket of Jacques-Antoine Derome. While Derome may have bound the book, he did not apply the elaborate gold tooling that we see here, that job was turned over to Dubuisson. On Dubuisson's earliest tickets we find that he considered himself primarily as a 'doreur'.

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Comparative Diagram 1 - Gulbenkian binding vs Michon Plate XXVII
(click on this image to see an enlargement)

I have, on a number of pages, detailed the errors of Louis-Marie Michon in his publication Les reliures mosaïquées du XVIIIeme siècle, Paris 1956. His book has sent the attribution of the 18th Century Mosaic bindings into an utter chaos that is still perplexing experts even today. Normally this should never have happened, Michon who seemed to be unaware of the Dubuisson's workshops? attributed most of the Mosaics to Jacques-Antoine Derome or his son Derome le jeune, even though two of the greatest experts who ever lived both agreed that Derome probably did not do this work himself, both experts refer to a doreur who worked for Derome and both have pointed to the binding shown above in black and white in Comparative Diagram 1, as being representative of the work of that doreur. The black and white example is from Michon's own reproduction of this binding, the spine is from Marius Michel's reproduction of the binding (see Marius Michel's page on this). One cannot fail to observe the numerous similarities to the Gulbenkian example, we could easily imagine that these bindings are in fact contemporaneous, perhaps being made in the same year or even in the same month, in the same workshop by the same doreur. Notice particularly the spine compartments, here we see, incredibly well made miniture mosaics of several inlaid leathers of different colors to which intricate gold tooling has been added. This technique and the design within the compartments appears to derive from a single inspiration.

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Center detail from Michon Pl. XVIII (click to enlarge)

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Comparative Diagram 2 - pd-21a and pd-21b various examples (click to enlarge)

I want to put an end to this problem with scientific precision, irrefutable proof that Pierre-Paul Dubuisson was the doreur who decorated these bindings. Dubuisson had in his collection of tools a few that were his favorites, that he used on many if not most of his bindings. One particular set of these tools, I have catalogued as pd-21a and its reversed double pd-21b, we have looked at the imprints from these tools many times in the past however we are going to look at them again in high resolution to show how these imprints can be used to identify the work of Dubuisson. The only difficulty in this is managing to get high resolution photographs or better yet scans, of the imprints. we can however start with Michon's plate XVIII which has enough detail to show distinct indicators that confirm that the pd-21 pair are found on this binding. I show above an enlargement of the imprints found in the center of Michon's Plate XVIII, here we can clearly see the pd-21 imprints. These I have placed in Comparative Diagram 2. You will notice that the detail of the imprints from Plate XVIII is not as good as the Type Models, and the Gulbenkian examples even less so.

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Comparative Diagram 3 - enlarged pd-21b examples 1000dpi click to enlarge.

In Comparative Diagram- 3, I show an enlarged detail of the various dp-21b imprints. only one of the imprints is an actual 1200 dpi scan, the clear sharp detail gives away its identity. The other examples are only enlargements of scans that range from 200 dpi to 300 dpi and lack detail. If all specimens were scanned at 1200 dpi we would have irrefutable proof, however we can still see that the PLate XVIII example shows a trace of the cross in the middle of the flower bud, that identifies these imprints very precisely. I am still hoping to get a better image of the Gulbenkian LA250 imprints.

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see below links to previous work

the last fanfare

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

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.

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