GORKY, Maxime (1868-1936) - Jean LÉBÉDEFF (1884-1972), illustrator
Les Vagabonds par Maxime Gorki. Traduction de Ivan Strannik. Bois Gravés par Lébédeff
Paris: Chez Mornay, 1921. 4to. (9 3/4 x 7 7/8 inches). Contents unbound, as issued. Illustrated with colour woodcuts by Lébédeff (frontispiece plate, 4 headpieces, 5 tailpieces [including tailpiece on colophon leaf], 4 initials and 12 illustrations within the text). With 30 preliminary pencil or pen-and-ink sketches by the artist, 8 preliminary woodcut proofs, 25 color woodcut proofs (21 signed), all tipped into 28 window cut paper mounts [as issued]. Extra-illustrated with a colour woodcut by Lébédeff, numbered 212/225, signed and inscribed by the artist to Ivan Lamberty, laid in.
Publisher's vellum wrappers, covers hand illuminated in pen-and-ink by Lébédeff, gold ribbon ties, within publisher's dark brown morocco-backed patterned boards chemise and slipcase
Unique large paper copy number one (of one), on Japon Impérial with the original preliminary sketches for the illustrations by Lébédeff, as well as signed artist's proofs of the illustrations, and bound in a hand-illuminated binding by the artist.
A unique, deluxe issue of this work, usually found as one of 960 copies on papier de Rives (from a total edition of 1000, the remaining 39 copies being hors commerce or other limited but less deluxe versions). Jean Lébédeff (born Ivan Lebedev in Bogorodskoye), began his studies under Fernand Cormon at the Ecole Beaux-Arts in Paris in 1909 and became a noted graphic designer and book illustrator in Paris between the wars, acclaimed for his wood-cuts. A well-known anarchist, his work was exhibited at the 1926 International Exhibition of Revolutionary Art of the West in Moscow; his work would later be featured in the 1979 retrospective "Paris Moscou 1900-1930" at the Centre Georges Pompidou. Vagabonds was a tremendously influential work by Gorky, here in French from the translation by Ivan Stannik. The work, with strong autobiographical elements, is comprised of four short stories featuring Russian vagabonds, titled: Malva; Konovalov; Tchelkache; and Mon Compagnon. The provenance of this copy, given the extra-illustration laid in, would seem to be Ivan Lamberty, a noted art patron and collector in Brussels.