Rare texts and images from early modern France

The autograph and its double

As Voltaire once remarked (or was it Winston Churchill?), forgery surely is the world’s second-oldest profession. This universal truth is confirmed by the history of … Continue reading


Bussy-Rabutin’s Book of Hours

On July 1, 1909, Edouard Rahir, the Paris bookseller and bibliographer, visited John Pierpont Morgan, the New York banker and collector, at his London residence … Continue reading

The birth and beginnings of Madame d’Aulnoy

Marie-Catherine Le Jumel de Barneville, baronne d’Aulnoy, died in Paris on January 13, 1705 – this has been known for a long time. But when … Continue reading

March 29, 2019
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More Madame d’Aulnoy

Six months ago this blog presented the very rare first edition of Marie-Catherine d’Aulnoy’s Les Contes des fées, of which a complete set (including engraved … Continue reading

October 17, 2018
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Barnett redivivus

In the spring of 2001, while surveying the scholarship on the mysterious Lettres portugaises, I encountered an annoying bibliographical redundancy: a seemingly new article by … Continue reading

June 13, 2018

Les Contes des fées

The term “fairy tale” originated in 1697, when Marie-Catherine Le Jumel de Barneville, baronne d’Aulnoy, gave the title Les Contes des fées to her first … Continue reading

April 10, 2018

Marie-Madeleine Perrault (1674-1701)

This is no fairy tale but a true story. It is based on archival sources that have lain dormant for centuries and, to my knowledge, … Continue reading

December 31, 2017
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Rubens and the King of France

This summer, the Prado Museum in Madrid hosted the exhibition Tesoros de la Hispanic Society of America: Visiones del mundo hispánico. Among the 200 objects … Continue reading

October 1, 2017
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Only in Lyon

Later this month, the North American Society for Seventeenth-Century French Literature (NASSCFL) will gather in Lyon for its 47th annual conference, devoted to the theme Literature, … Continue reading

June 11, 2017
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Ex bibliotheca R. Toinet

Raymond Toinet (1843-1936) was a lawyer from the town of Tulle in central France. In 1880, he was one among several hundred Catholic magistrates who … Continue reading

April 14, 2017
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Saving Madame de Graffigny

2016 saw the successful completion of a 40-year project: the publication of the Correspondance of Françoise de Graffigny (1695-1758), famous in her time – and … Continue reading

March 8, 2017
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A letter from Racine to Boileau

Many American libraries along the eastern seaboard, from Maine to Washington D.C. and beyond, preserve outstanding autograph collections whose riches remain to be fully explored. … Continue reading

February 20, 2017
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In effigiem Caroli Patin

Claude Lefebvre (1632-1675) was his generation’s leading portrait painter, perhaps best known today for the portrait of Jean-Baptiste Colbert that he presented as his reception … Continue reading

February 9, 2017
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