Escales d’Asie.

Fouqueray, Charles & Claude Farrère.

Book ID: 31707


4to. 137 pp., [1], Loose sheets in the original printed and hand-coloured wrappers, within the original marbled box with printed label, illustrated with 45 water coloured plates by Charles Fouqueray of which 10 are hors text, 1 map of Arabia, title printed in green and black and with hand-coloured vignette, vélin du Marais sheets in half-calf folder fitted in its original marbled slip-case, copy clean and in very good condition, Limited and numbered edition of 450 copies of which this copy is numbered 279, Laborey, Paris, 1947.


Claude Farrère (1876-1957), pseudonym of Frédéric-Charles Bargone, was a French author of novels set in exotic locations such as Istanbul, Saigon and Nagasaki. His novel, Les civilisés (The Civilized) won the Prix Goncourt in 1905. He was elected chair at the Académie Française on 26 March 1935. Initially, however, he followed in the footsteps of his father, an infantry colonel who served in the French colonies: enlisting with the naval academy in 1894, Claude Farrère was made lieutenant in 1906 and was promoted to captain during 1918. He resigned the next year to concentrate on his writing career.
Fouqueray occupies an important and unique niche in the history of French art. While public taste and the Salons were driving the innovation and birth of Impressionism, Fouqueray incorporated wholeheartedly a well-defined, tight realism into his romantic portrayals of the importance of France’s maritime history.
During the First World War Fouqueray was sent by the French combined forces to the Middle East, and particularly, Saudi-Arabia. Kuwait and Oman followed soon after. Stopping off in each country, he made hundreds of watercolour sketches of local life and colour, some of which were later worked into oil paintings in his studio in Paris.
His book Escales d’Asie, (Asian Stopovers), has a strange publishing history. Originally published in a limited edition of 450 copies in France in 1947, the colour lithographed illustrations, are from these earlier trips, to illustrate the text of Claude Farrère, also an account of a yacht voyage round the coasts of Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf coast. Fouqueray’s wonderfully evocative sketches had been waiting some twenty-five years to find a home. His pictures of dhows, Arab falconers, camels, of Djedda, Yambo El Bahr, of Muscat, Matra, of Kuwait bazaar, have never been bettered, and are a unique portrait of life forever vanished, and now but a distant memory. The section on the Gulf starts on p. 89, taking up the rest of the volume, and includes a little excursion up the Tigris. It is also unusual that the book is entirely illustrated in original watercolour over very faintly printed grey and black outlines and shades, and not, as one would expect from a French mid-century book.

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