Paris: Chez Jean Villette, ruë Saint Jacques, à la Croix d'Or, 1725.
Octavo. Full 18th century mid-tan calf with double gilt-ruled boards, spine in decorative compartments gilt, dark red title label gilt, red edges, marbled endpapers. 1f. (recto title, verso blank), iii-v ("A Monseigneur Le Duc de Rets, Pair de France, et Capitaine des Gardes du Corps"), vi-xviii ("Preface"), xix-[xxii] (("Table"), xxiii-xxiv ("Privilege du Roy") 271, [i] (errata) pp. With woodcut head- and tailpieces and decorative initials throughout. With wide margins.
With full-page frontispiece depicting a couple dancing while a dancing master plays the violin plus 60 plates (including 4 folding), both drawn and etched by Rameau, illustrating the various positions and techniques described within the text. With the additional plate "Figure preste à faire le tems de Coura[n]te" facing p. 74.
The fine large folding plate facing p. 53 illustrates chapter 16, "Du Cerémonial que l'on observe au grand Bal du Roy," and features two couples dancing the minuet before King Louis XV, a group of musicans in the foreground, surrounded by a large audience of elegantly dressed ladies and gentlemen.
From the distinguished library of the Earl of Macclesfield, with armorial bookplate to front pastedown and small elaborately embossed armorial stamp to upper margin of frontispiece and three following leaves. This important private library was sold at auction by Sotheby's in London in a series of sales from 2004-2008.
Binding slightly worn, rubbed and bumped; upper hinge split. Slightly worn; light uniform browning, slightly heavier to some leaves; occasional foxing and soiling; plate facing p. 53 slightly creased at lower inner margin and with small tear repaired with archival tape to verso; plate facing p. 217 with very small tear to lower margin just touching ruled border and printed identification repaired with archival tape to verso; plate facing p. 218 very slightly abraided at left margin just touching ruled border but not affecting image.
First Edition. Rare. Beaumont pp. 150-151. Magriel p. 131. Niles & Leslie II p. 439. Malkin 103. Fletcher no. 26. Schwartz & Schlundt no. 56. RISM BVI p. 686 (one copy in the U.S. only). This edition not in Derra de Moroda or Hirsch.
"Very little is known of Pierre Rameau, except that he himself states that he was in the service of the Queen of Spain. This was Elizabeth Farnese, second wife of Philip V and one of the most ambitious and powerful royal ladies of the eighteenth century." Fletcher.
"Fletcher calls Le maître a danser 'one of the most important books in the history of dance literature.' Wendy Hilton observes that 'it contains the clearest and most detailed descriptions available of the structure and execution of the basic steps used in social and theatrical dance.' " Malkin.
"One of the classic manuals of the dance. It should be noted particularly that in this book are set down for the first time ... the five positions of the feet which, with slight modifications, have remained unaltered to the present day. These positions are made very clear by their accompanying illustrations ... There are many pages devoted to the correct manner of raising one's hat according to the occasion that may arise. There is an excellent description of the Menuet and the manner of its execution ... The illustrations depict the dancer at various stages in the performance of the different movements. The designs, if somewhat crude, are clear and comprehensive, and include very careful details of the port de bras to be employed with the steps and dances described." Beaumont.
"With this instruction manual, Rameau provided the classic textbook of social dancing for the early 18th century. His book contains a detailed description of the minuet considered fundamental to research on this dance. Simple engravings effectively illustrate the positions, carriage, walking, moving from one position to another, bowing (including manipulation of the hat, walking and bowing for women, and proper etiquette at balls ...), in addition to specific steps and other elements of technique. Reference numbers on dancers' limbs and diagrams representing figure guides on the ballroom floor, or gesture guides in the air, precisely link the illustrations to the text. Clothing, wigs, and spatial relationships and patterns shown in the drawings ... provide additional detail."
Part I treats positions, steps, and the structure of specific dances, while Part 2 deals with the use of the arms in dancing. The 42 chapters of Part 1 begin with basic positions ... fundamental movements of hip, knee, and instep that comprise the various pas or steps of the dance ... as well as bows and etiquette ... Ch. 21-25 ... describe steps and other performance details of the minuet, including movements of the arms. Ch. 26-27 deal with the courante and its steps, ch. 28-42 with additional steps: Pas de bourrées or Fleurets, various Coupés, Pas de gaillarde, Pirouettes, Balancés, Pas de sissonne, Pas de rigaudon, Jettés, Contretems de gavotte, ... various Chassés, Sallies, Ouvertures de jambes, and various Battemens."
The 16 chapters of Part 2 begin with general treatment of positions, elevations, and movements of the arms, in combination with wrists, neck and shoulders ... General coordination of arms and feet occupies ch. 6, while ch. 7-16 ... describe how to coordinate arm motions with specific dance steps treated in Part 1." Schwartz & Schlundt.
An exceptionally nice copy, with important provenance, of one of the most important dance books of the 18th century.
Price: $12,500.00 other currencies