Poet Paul Valéry had been an amateur painter and draftsman since his youth. In Paris, industrialist Ernest Rouart brought him into contact with impressionist Edgar Degas. Degas put Valéry to work in the Louvre, where he learned to paint in the traditional way: by copying old masters like Vittore Carpaccio and Andrea Mantegna. In his book Degas, danse, dessin, Valéry tells many anecdotes about (his time with) Degas. Valéry has illustrated a small number of his own works: one of his own illustrations was also used for Agathe, which appeared posthumously.
Illustration by Paul Valéry (verso-side of the titel page)
First page of the facsimile manuscript of Paul Valéry
The Koopman Collection owns ten books produced by the Italian publisher and printer Tallone, with texts that betray the publisher's preferences. He published classical French authors such as Baudelaire, Ronsard, Scève, and Racine, in a tight, austere design and typography. Publisher Tallone, which still exists to this very day, uses its own typeface, the 'Tallone'. Founder Alberto Tallone (1989-1968) hailed from an artistic environment; his father Cesare was an accomplished painter, while his mother was a poet. His sisters were musicians, his brother was an antiquarian, and his wife Teresa was an art critic. But Alberto had a predilection for the art of book printing, and especially for editions by Manutius and Bodoni. He decided to take on an apprenticeship with French master printer Maurice Darantière, from whom he would later also take over equipment.
Valéry's daughter, who was born in 1906, was named Agathe (later Agathe Rouart-Valéry), but the author had used the title Agathe long before, in 1898, for an essay he would never finish. He had also considered other titles: Manuscrit trouvé dans une cervelle *and *Agathe, Sainte du Sommeil. Valéry's illustration pictures a seated nude. Besides the printed text, this edition also includes a facsimile of Valéry's hand-written manuscript, complete with strikethroughs.
|Description:||Agathe / par Paul Valéry ; [ill. par l'auteur]. – Paris : Tallone, 1956. -  p., 14 bl. pl. : ill., facs. ; 35 cm|
|Printer:||Alberto Tallone (Paris) (text)
Daniel Jacomet (facsimiles and illustration)
|This copy:||Number XXXVIII of 25 on vergé Montval blanc|
|Shelf-mark:||Koopm K 299|
- Denis Bertholet, Paul Valéry 1871-1945. Paris, Plon, 1995
- Maurizio Pallante, I Tallone. Milano, Libri Scheiwiller, 1989
- Paul Valéry, Degas, danse, dessin. Paris, Gallimard, 1938