Size: 10 x 13.25 inches
Artist: Various (Acker, Vogel, etc.)
Lefèvre-Utile was founded in Nantes, France, in 1846 by Jean-Romain Lefèvre and his business partner and wife, Pauline-Isabelle Utile. Their initials (LU) were first used by Alfons Mucha for an 1897 calendar ad for the Lefèvre-Utile Biscuit Co. The success of the branding resulted in the company becoming known as LU and, now owned by a large multi-national, it sells in excess of USD$2 billion every year - that's a whole lot of cookies!
This incredibly rare book titled "Les Contemporains Célèbres," (Engl: Contemporary Celebrities) contains 28 biographies of famous actors, singers, literary figures, critics, etc. It was produced at a time where the concept of celebrity was rapidly growing and collecting autographs was a popular hobby (not to mention lucrative, if one knew what they were doing!). There was a strong desire to know what the greatest contemporary public figures wore, how they grew up, whether they encountered any struggles... and the album provides intimate portraits into the lives of all 28 celebrities with black and white photos of them set in decorated panels by Habert-Dys, Orazi, and Fraikin, illustrations by Vogel beside the text written by Paul Acker, and signatures and quotes compiled by LU. This version of the album was published without the additional illustrated plates by Cappiello.
A rare find, the book was recently brought in by one of the great-great grandchildren of the original Lefèvre-Utile family. Exquisite in every way, it is an exceptional piece of Art Nouveau ephemera with a perfect provenance. With wood veneer plates of a thistle flower and stork making the front and back covers (respectively), a medallion portrait of Alphonse Mucha's depiction of Sarah Bernhardt in "La Princess Lointaine" set into the cover, and the original cloth-bound slipcase. For serious collectors and those who appreciate classic Art Nouveau style.