BIRDS DO IT, BEES DO IT…

Oeuvres badines …

Paris, chez les marchands de nouveautés, 1797.

12mo, pp. 144, with 8 engraved plates; some foxing; overall very good in contemporary marbled sheep, gilt vine leaf border to covers, spine gilt in compartments with gilt red morocco lettering-piece, marbled endpapers; corners worn, a little wear to joints and rubbing to covers.

£975

Approximately:
US $1199€1137

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Scarce illustrated edition of the ‘frolicsome works’ of the French dramatist and wit Piron (1689–1773), collecting sixty-eight salacious poems accompanied by eight erotic engraved plates. The collection includes the notorious Ode à Priape, the publication of which obliged Piron to leave his native Dijon for Paris, and prompted Louis XV to veto his election to the Académie française.

The volume opens with a frontispiece depicting an orgy involving men, women, cherubs, a faun, and a herm outside a temple to Priapus. Seven further plates follow, each illustrating a particular poem. That accompanying Tirliberly (slang for the male member) shows a dapper young man presenting a dildo to a naked woman in bed. The Ode à Priape has two plates: the first depicting a man and a woman, camels, whales, birds, flies and butterflies, all copulating in couples (‘Aigle, baleine, dromadaire, / Insecte, animal, homme, tout, / Dans les cieux, sous l’eau, sur la terre, / Tout nous annonce que l’on fout’), and the second portraying an aroused Achilles in the company of a woman exposing herself on the banks of the river Scamander.

The remaining plates show an amorous King David watching Bathsheba from his balcony with a magnifying glass (Betzabée); an ejaculating gardener (La fille charitable); Briseis revealing her admirable bottom (‘aimable cul’) to an aroused Grecian (Rondeau); and a Carmelite friar in the company of a naked widow (La veuve inconsolable).

OCLC records only two copies in the US (Newberry Library and UCLA) and one in the UK (British Library).

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