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osvald siren palais de peking

Les Palais impériaux de Pékin

Origin / Date Paris & Bruxelles, 1926
Material Paper
Dimensions large quarto
Availability Sold


Les Palais impériaux de Pékin. Avec une notice historique.  by Osvald Siren.
Paris & Bruxelles, G. Vanoest, 1926. First Edition. 3 volumes in-4.  VI-69 pages, 274 plates “en héliotypie” based on the author’s own photographs, with its 12 architectural drawings and the 2 plans.  French. In the original blue paper wrappers (slightly faded), uncut and unused, occasional foxing confined to edges, else mint.

A survey of unparalleled scope, clarity, beauty and documentary value. Very handsome set, a rarity in original condition.


Gerard Van Oest was perhaps the last genius of the heroic age of publishing which I would venture had ended by the 1960s. His books are incomparably satisfying to hold and behold: the weight and size, even when it is, as often, a large quarto, the strength and suppleness of the paper used, also for the wrappers, its sheer tactile (and visual because non-reflective) pleasure, the ease with which it opens flat in the hand, the beauty and legibility of the precise and sharp type, the rational margin sizes and layout, the peerless illustrations, their sheer generous number and intelligent placement, both the quality of the photography and the brilliance of the heliogravures * derived from it, already make of him a phenomenon, before one even discusses the pioneering nature of a lot of the material and the quality of the research and analysis. This is true above all of the books on Asian art and architecture and it is unique that three of the four early, rare and pioneering volumes he published are presented here, all in their original state, with two of them never used.

* One could say that Heliogravure and the variants of continuous tone printing, like collotype and photogravure in English or phototypie in French and Lichtdruck in German is to ordinary (halftone) photographic reproduction what a first impression Durer print is to, for example, a fourth, in terms of depth of contrast.

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