|The Binding of Books
An Essay in the History of Gold-Tooled
Bindings by Herbert P. Horne
|French Bindings 32
|An earlier binder, who produced many inlaid bindings, was Jacques Antoine Derome, who
received his freedom in 1718, and died in 1760. In the Museum is a binding of this sort
attributed to him, Heures Nouvelles, Paris, 1749 [C. 48. b. 8.]; and other examples are figured
by MM. Marius-Michel in La Relz'ure Franraise [PI. XVIII. and XIX.].
Of the numerous binders, which the two branches of the family of Derome produced during the
eighteenth century, by far the most celebrated was Nicolas Denis, known as Derome Ie jeune,
the third son of Jacques Antoine Derome. Born in 1731, he received his freedom in 1761, and
died about 1788. He is the only binder of his time who achieved the invention of an individual
style: which he did in his 'dentelles a l'oiseau.' These' dentelles' have been thought to rival
those ofPadeloup ; and they certainly possess a distinct and pleasing character of their own: but
Derome was a very inferior workman to Padeloup. The 'sin of cropping' lies heavy upon him: he
ruthlessly ploughed the margins of the finest books entrusted to him; and freely used the saw
to embed his cords, that he might indulge the consequent vice of a hollow back. Yet these were
errors, it must be remembered, common to the age in which he lived. Derome's business was
carried on by his nephew Alexis Pierre Bradel, after his death: and of the other binders com
temporary with him, the most noted were PIerre Vente, Jean Pierre J ubert, and Franc;ois
With the Revolution, fine binding, like every other fine art, was brought, for a time at least, to an
abrupt end: and the traditions of good workmanship were not revived until the beginning of the
present century. At first, the celebrated Thouvenin, with Bozerian, Purgold, Lessee, who extolled
his art in verse, and disputed with Dibdin, and later, Bauzonnet, Trautz, Cuzin, Thibaron, Lortie,
Niedree, Duru, and Cape, laid the foundations of the present school of French bookbinding.
Examples of the work of Thouvenin, Bauzonnet, and some others may be seen in the British
Museum: while the productions of the more recent school may be found well illustrated in M.
Octave Uzanne's work, La Relt"ure 11loderne, artistique et fantaisiste, Paris, 1887. The technical
accomplishment of this school is very extraordinary: but its want of invention, of a sense for
decoration; in short, of power to understand, and put to fine uses, the genius of the art, is yet
more remarkable. Productions are now possible says Goethe, 'which, without being bad, have
no value. They have no value because they contain nothing; and they are not bad, because a
general form of good workmanship is present to the author's mind.
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