Generally attributed to Fernando de Rojas, the influential Spanish dialogue novel popularly known as La Celestina was first published in 1499. Also known as Tragicomedia de Calisto y Melibea, the main character of this work is a complex woman named Celestina, who serves as an intermediary for two lovers. Fascinated by this character, Pablo Picasso portrayed her in various works throughout his career. Accomplished late in Picasso’s life, La Célestine was a final tribute to the character.
Picasso worked with printer Aldo Crommelynck of Atelier Crommelynck to create this edition. This French translation of the novel by Pierre Heugas is illustrated by sixty-six etchings and aquatints extracted from a series of Picasso’s prints known as Suite 347 (1968). The black-and-white hors texte illustrations display Picasso’s range and innovation as a printmaker, and many of the images feature the character of Celestina. This volume was printed on paper made and specially watermarked with the title of the book by the Richard de bas paper mill. The letterpress text is 10 pt. Garamont, composed by hand by Fequet et Baudier.
The volume was bound by Bernard Duval in vellum with hand sewn endbands in linen thread. The text has deckled edges at the tail, and the title is tooled in black on the cover. A chemise in vellum with cream-colored paper sides wraps around the book. A vellum-covered slipcase protects the volume.
La Célestine was published in a total edition of 400, with 350 copies numbered 1-350, 30 copies hors commerce numbered I-XXX, 18 nominative copies, and 2 copies marked 0 and 00 for legal deposit. In addition, 50 signed and numbered suites of prints were published by Galerie Louise Leiris.
This copy is numbered 100 and is signed by the artist on the colophon. It is an association copy which comes from the collection of Piero Crommelynck, the brother of Aldo, and a partner in Atelier Crommelynck. Its pristine condition and the fact that it is numbered 100 reflect this connection.
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