London and New York: Harper and Brothers, 1902. First edition. Finely bound by Sangorski & Sutcliffe in full crushed turquoise morocco, with intricate gilt floral borders with inlaid red morocco flowers. Coat of arms of Louis XV on the front board, and Madame de Pompadour on the rear board. Spine with five raised bands and elaborate gilt floral designs with inlaid red morocco flowers. Blue silk-moire end papers and paste down (rear). Pink morocco doublure with gilt fluer de lis stamping. Set into the doublure is a fine circular portrait of Madame de Pompadour under glass, with four pearls and four rubies encircling the portrait. All edges gilt. Stamped by Sangorski and Sutcliffe on the rear turn-in, initials of Ohio collector B. C. Hoffman on the front doublure.
Quarto (pages 237 x 185 mm), collating: xiv, 1-431, [432 blank]; complete with all sixteen inserted plates. Binding in Near Fine condition with only very slight wear at the upper spine joints and a bit of fraying to the edges of the silk end-papers. Internal contents in excellent condition. Housed in a full cloth clamshell case, lined with blue velvet.
Remembered for her role as Louis XV’s mistress, Pompadour also left lasting legacies in literature and art. Using the power and prestige of her position in the court, Pompadour set up and patronized the Royal Porcelain Factory at Sèvres. Her brother, hired at Pompadour’s suggestion, managed the king’s building projects that resulted in the Place de la Concorde and the École Militaire. Pompadour was a close friend a patron of Voltaire, whose Encyclopédie made significant contributions to Enlightenment and pre-French Revolution thought. In his biography of the Madame de Pompadour, Williams strives to correct “the writings of historians, who, while unsparing in their condemnation of her interference in affairs of State, for the most part entirely ignore the beneficial results of her influence in other directions.” Williams sets out to emphasize her multifaceted contributions to French culture by writing “an adequate, and, at the same time, a strictly impartial, account of the life of this most remarkable woman.” Near Fine (Item #3121)