(Maison de Mademoiselle Mimaut)
La maison de Mademoiselle Mimaut. 107 Rue de Longchamp à Paris.
Large oblong folio. Title leaf, (30) oblong photogravure plates (each measuring approx 250 x 320mm). Contemporary quarter vellum, gilt, cloth sides. Traces of an old light stain at upper blank margin of title leaf and of first ten plates, extending a little into the upper left-hand corner of the plate-marked area of these plates but not affecting any of the actual images. A smaller upright photogravure plate with an image of Mademoiselle Mimaut herself, 235 x 150mm, is loosely inserted and is more severely affected by a similar old stain.
A remarkably evocative photographic record of the handsome and well-furnished house at 107 Rue de Longchamp, Paris (now demolished), which had been the home of Mademoiselle Louise Mathilde Julie Mimaut (1843-1910). Mlle. Mimaut, daughter, grand-daughter and sister of members of the French diplomatic service, had had the benefit of a substantial private income, partly as a result of her father’s marriage to Mina Lutteroth, daughter of a wealthy businessman from Hamburg in Germany, and, as the present album shows, she had been able to put together an extensive and carefully selected collection of ceramics, distributed throughout each of the principal rooms of her house. Each of these rooms was also very elegantly furnished, with antique cabinet furniture, mirrors, clocks, paintings and engravings, and what is very satisfactory about the album is that it aims to provide comprehensive images of the rooms in which Mlle.Mimaut had lived and entertained (entrance hall, salon, dining room, “salon bleu”, library, bedroom, and “cabinet de toilette”), even providing photographic views taken from different angles in order to show the entirety of the larger rooms. These fine photogravure illustrations, almost unique as a consciously commissioned record of the home of a wealthy Parisian lady of the later nineteenth century and early twentieth century, owe their existence to the fact when Mlle. Mimaut died, on 13 April 1910, she bequeathed her house in the Rue de Longchamp not to her surviving brother but to a close personal friend, Mme Henri Morane (née Carré-Kerrisouet), who as a token of gratitude employed a professional Parisian photographer to provide the present illustrated record of the house and of its contents as it had been during Mlle.Mimaut’s lifetime. The photographs must clearly have been taken within a very few months after Mlle.Mimaut’s death, for the rooms still contain her collection of ceramics (and of Bohemian and Austrian glass), bequeathed by her to the then newly-founded Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, but not accessioned by that museum until 1911. The intention was that sets of the resulting photogravure plates, bound up with a title leaf in uniform quarter vellum bindings, lettered in gilt on their upper cover with the accompanying date 1910, should be distributed as gifts to Mlle.Mimaut’s surviving friends. It is not known how many sets were in fact produced and distributed, but the number cannot have been at all large. There is a copy in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, but it does not look as if copies are held in any of the more obvious institutional libraries outside France. The circumstances of the production of the album are explained in a letter dated 3 April 1992 from one of Mme Henri Morane’s grandchildren, of which a photocopy is loosely inserted inside the present copy.