(NP, ca. 1840). 9 1/4 x 11 3/4. 120 pages. The album is comprised of 12 alphabets of 25 letters (there is no "W") on rectos of thick, smooth paper which was "made" by the artist. There are also a title page, an index, and 10 section titles preceding the ten major alphabets of ornamented initials. These are lettered in black & red and stencil-signed "par Beauvalet St. Victor." Saint-Victor's watercolored & gilded letters are his own creations, derived from Medieval sources. The letters are all majuscules (Onciales du 9e au 11e siecles, 12e siecle, 12e au 14e siecles; Gothiques Ornées, Anglais Ornées, Majuscules d'Eglise, d'Eglise Ornée, Alphabet de Romain Droit Orné et Ombré, and -in a closing crescendo- Majuscules Choisies Ornés 12e au 14e. Letters are variously one, two, or 4 to a page, separated by a gilt rules. The other 2 alphabets are single leaves of simple Lombardic caps in red and gold. Bound in full wine morocco, all edges gilt (upper joint lightly rubbed) in Medieval style, ca. 1896 for J. E. Woodhead. Fine, in felt-lined slipcase. Item #14275
Born in Paris in 1780, the artist described himself as a "Peintre Minerologiste breveté" (a patented minerologist painter) in reference to the luminous pigments he invented. St.-Victor's technique may be even more important, as he appears to have been an early adopter of pochoir. His process-- aquarelle-miniatures-- St. Victor termed “veritablement unique dans son genre.” In his 1835 manual "Aquarelle-Miniature Perfectionnée reflets métallique et chatoyans et peintre a l'huile sur velous en six leçons," the artist gives precise and detailed instructions for the tools needed: cutting implements, various brushes, colors, and paper prepared with a smooth vellum-like surface (instructions for this are included). Although painting with stencils was used in c19 decorative arts (theorem painting on velvet, for example), the process does not seem to have been employed to illustrate books. St. Victor was one of the first to use stencils for book illustration. His process was labor intensive, slow, and expensive. And it coincided with the rise of chromolithography.
THE ONLY COPY LOCATED. Examples of Beauvalet de St. Victor's work are rare. They may all have been offered by subscription. His Vases Grecques et Étrusques illustrated from stencils and "peints d'apres sa nouvelle decouverte metallique," was issued in fascicules between 1837 and 1845. And they were expensive. His aquarelle-miniature text book was--10 francs for each of the 6 lessons. The Vases was 32 francs for each fascicule.
Woodhead was a prominent c19 Chicago businessman. His name is stamped in gilt at base of spine; he has penciled his name in tiny letters and the date '96 at top corner of title page.