(Paris: c. 1910-1914). 6ff., loose. A collection of six designs for binding elements, three completed in pencil and watercolor, and the others incorporating pencil, ink, watercolor, gouache, and gilt accents. Two of the designs are monogrammed "CM" for Charles Meunier and were likely made into bindings by the bindery of Léon Gruel. The first, inspired by Moorish architecture and vividly colored in blue, green, and purple, is stamped "Léon Gruel...Paris" on the back with the title "Chariot de Terre Cuite" written in pencil below. Only half of the border and background are shown in the design, with the other half simply sketched in pencil. The other design, which depicts a central floral pattern colored in blue and green with gilt accents, bears a penciled note at the bottom that reads, "Jardin des Caresses a M Renevey." Eugène Renevey was a French collector and bibliophile, and a binding by Gruel for Le Jardin des Caresses, the description for which matches the design and colors of the binding depicted here, is documented in Renevey's library catalogue (Bibliothèque de M. Eugène Renevey 320).
The four remaining binding designs are mixed media and incorporate pencil, ink, watercolor and gouache paint, and, in some cases, ink and gilt stamping directly from the binder's tools onto the paper. The largest of these is partially colored in pale blues, yellows, greens, and oranges, with visible corrections in pencil to the design. Six small pieces of paper are adhered to the back of the page and show a pencil drawing for the spine of the book, which is titled "Yvonne." The three smaller designs were possibly made for doublures and show different floral borders, one a pink rose vine, another a partially-colored pen-and-ink drawing of blue and white flowers, and the last a full gouache painting of a red and white ribbon entwined with blue-flowered vines on a brown background. The first of these designs bears the initials "P.G.", possibly for Paul Gruel, Léon Gruel's son and partner at the bindery.
Léon Gruel (1840-1923) was the most well-known in a family of binders. His grandfather founded their bindery in 1811, and Léon became sole owner of the business in 1891, joined by his son Paul in 1900. The firm was known for their excellently executed fine bindings, exhibiting their artistry at the Paris Exposition in 1889 and attracting a worldwide audience. Charles Meunier (1865-1948) began binding in Paris in 1877. He worked in the bindery of Marius-Michel in 1882 and, in 1885, established his own workshop. He was closely associated with Robert de Montesquiou, who lauded Meunier's talents in both prose and verse. Meunier, in turn, published some of Montesquiou's writings and bound numerous works for his library. Meunier and Léon Gruel collaborated on bindings, such as an example by Meunier with finishing by Gruel sold by Pierre Berès, and another, in the collection of the Folger Shakespeare Library, by Gruel after a design by Meunier. Together, these two master artisans are among the most important French bookbinders from the turn of the 20th century.
The largest design is 12 5/8 inches tall by 9 7/8 inches wide, while the smallest measures 7 inches tall by 5 5/16 inches wide. Light soiling and edgewear to some leaves, open tear approximately 1cm deep to lower edge of one drawing and small closed tear to another, neither affecting the images, adhesive stains to back of three leaves, and fold marks visible on three leaves, possibly to aid the artist in locating the center axes. Item #27616
(Bibliothèque de M. Eugène Renevey 320; Duncan and de Bartha, Art Nouveau and Art Deco Bookbinding, pp. 191, 194; Folger Shakespeare Library, call no. PQ1581 .T7 1508 Cage; Pierre Berès Cat. 83 Livres Rares—Six Siècles de Reliures, no. 275).