The Royal Treatment: Books


In conjunction with Arader Galleries’ exhibition The Royal Treatment, which gathers our unparalleled collection of natural history watercolors painted at the French court (curated by Alison Petretti), we present here a brief collection of French royal books, broadly conceived. Some — Vallet’s almost micrographic florilegium for Henri IV, Plumier’s Description des plantes de l’Amerique with the supralibros of Louis XIV, Redouté and Ventenat’s masterful account of Empress Joséphine’s Jardin de la Malmaison — support the paintings directly.

Others are simply redolent of Versailles, the Louvre, Fontainebleau and other haunts of the crown retinue. Ménard’s re-issue of Joinville’s life of Louis IX (Saint Louis) presented to Marie de’ Medici is a poignant relic of the strife of the era; months after the volume was given to the Queen Mother, she was banished to Fontainebleau by the son whose portrait sits opposite that of the sainted subject. Beaulieu’s account of the military achievements — if perhaps slightly inflated — of Louis XIV is all the more alluring for its residence in the library of the Château de Malmaison, home of the Empress Josephine; what did she learn from them?

The court of France inspired in its era as it does today a reverence for the fineness of its trappings. “Versailles” has long been a byword for opulence. Volumes that passed through the collections of France’s kings or its high nobility have always commanded great esteem from collectors, and the assemblage presented below will, we hope, illustrate why.

1. Vallet. Le Jardin du Roy tres chrestien Henry IV...
2. Joinville, ed. Ménard. Histoire de S. Loys IX. du nom...
3. Fouquet. Histoire d’Espagne with Histoire de France...

Louis XIV
4. Plumier. Description des plantes de l’Amerique
5. Beaulieu. Les glorieuses conquestes de Loüis le Grand
6. Louis XIV. Document signed (Fontainebleau)
7. Le Pautre. Les Plans... des Ville, et Château de Versailles

Louis XV
8. Longus, illust. Philippe II. Daphnis et Chloé
9. [Louis XV]. Les Statuts de l’Ordre du S.t Esprit

Louis XVI
10. Gifford. The unfortunate Lewis the Sixteenth

11. Redouté & Ventenat. Jardin de la Malmaison
12. Chateaubriand. De Buonaparte, des Bourbons
13. Thouin. Plans raisonnés de... jardins
14. Chambure. Napoléon et ses contemporains
15. Norvins & Raffet. Histoire de Napoleon

Louis Philippe
16. Noisette & Bessa. Le Jardin Fruitier...

J.L. Rosenberg
Head of Rare Books