On the previous pages we saw how the family Oudot for more than 100 years, between ca. 1600 and 1729, published the Parisian "Danse Macabre", and how the old woodcuts at some point were replaced by copies.
The book to the left was published by Jean-Antoine Garnier (1742-1780). It doesn't have a year of publication, but the front page says »avec permission«, and the last page reproduces the royal permission that his grandfather, Pierre Garnier, had received in 1728. The permit covers ca. 10 specific titles, among these "La grande danse macabre".
Socard(1) characterises this permit as »nothing more than an expired passport, which Jean-Antoine used unduly. […] Like his grandmother [i.e. the widow after Pierre Garnier] and his father Jean Garnier had done before him, Jean-Antoine inserted at the end of his editions the privileges granted to the head of the family, who died in December 1738«.
Socard adds: »As one can see, the date of the permissions on the works of the successors of Pierre Garnier is never the actual date of the book itself«. Apparently the family continued following this tradition for many years by reprinting the book, still with the same year: »This printer, as well as his successors, deceived the purchasers by selling them a book of 1773, as being from 1728, and the last Garniers did even worse by printing, from 1780 to 1820, the same book with the old date«.(2)
A short view over the Family Garnier looks like this:(3)
On the front page is yet another copy of the cadaver musicians and this time it is obvious that it's a copy. The copyist has hardly even bothered to copy the vegetation in the background. And one wonders why it has been necessary to produce such a bad copy when the Garnier still had the good copy — the one that the family Oudot had been using since 1641 — this woodcut is in fact used inside the book (picture to the right).
The explanation may have something to do with the fact that the address on the front page of this book is the same as in Oudot's 1700 and 1729-editions: Ruë du Temple. In 1762 Jean-Antoine Garnier's father, Jean Garnier, wanted to expand his business, and so he bought the house at the corner of Rue du Temple from the widow of Jean IV Oudot.
It would appear that the Garnier family took over the good copies along with Oudot's workshop, so maybe the bad copies originate from grandfather Pierre's 1728-edition? This could also explain why Jean-Antoine Garnier have chosen to feature the inferior copy on the frontpage, out of veneration for his grandfather, while hiding the good copy away inside the book.
A similar phenomenon is seen with the dead queen at the end of the dance. The publisher has illustrated this scene with a woodcut of the (living) queen from Oudot's 1641-edition (billedet til højre).
But the woodcut is not the same, as the one illustrating the living queen (to the left), which is an inferior copy without plants in the background.
Something similar happens with the dead king. He is also illustrated with an image of the living king, but in this case the same inferior copy is used in both places. Incidentally this woodcut is the only one that has been signed: Below the cardinal and king is written "VERNIE", so the woodcutter was apparently named Vernier.
We saw on the previous page about Oudot, how the woodcut with astrologer and citizen must have disappeared and how the publisher instead had used the woodcut with lawyer and minstrel twice.
It still holds true that only the existing woodcuts get copied. Garnier didn't have an examplar of Miroer Salutaire, and once an image was gone, it was gone.
On the other hand he had two sets of copies, so he used the good copy of lawyer and minstrel for illustrating astrologer and citizen (picture to the left), while lawyer and minstrel themselves got the bad copy (picture to the right).
The publishers have been very creative when they had to illustrate the authorities that introduce the two dances. The have dug deeply into the chest with (copies of) old woodcuts from the old shepherd's calendars.
The authority who introduces the men's dance is illustrated with a woodcut of a cadaver with a coffin, while the authority, who introduces the women's dance, is illustrated with a image of the month of April.
Some of the copies are naïve, while others are very precise (but they are still copies of copies). For instance the two woodcuts of the lawyer and minstrel are very similar except that all the plants in the background have been removed on the copy. However, the copier has made a blunder, because on the good copy (the one that was used for astrologer and citizen) the Death to the left has two feet, but on the copy, one of the feet (the one the dart points to) has been transformed into a fold in the lawyer's skirt.
The most exact copy is the citizeness and widow. The same image is used for spinster maid and Franciscan nun, and the differences are microscopic, except that the former is lacking the frame.
This book probably represents the last edition ever in Troyes before the blocks were republished in Paris in 1862.(4) Socard writes (quoted above) that the family continued issuing the book in the name of Jean-Antoine and with the same year in the period from 1780 to 1820, and to this day these "1728-editions" are regularly put up for sale on the Internet. Socard's remark is a bit cryptic, for the various copies don't just have the same date; the front pages are identical. For instance, "La Complainte" is spellled "La Camplainte", and the first "v" in the word "vivre" is very faint, while the "e" always is upside-down. There are errors in the page numbers: page 31 is labeled "29", while the number 32 is printed upside-down.
This edition contains the sum of all changes introduced by Garnier's predecessors. Every single publisher has copied the variants of his predecessors and in those cases where new copies have been produced, it has only been possible to copy those woodcuts that hadn't perished in the mean time.
The changes are as follows:
The woodcuts had another renaissance in 1862.
Footnotes: (1) (2) (3) (4)
Ce privilège de 1728 n'est autre chose qu'un passeport périmé, dont Jean-Antoine se servait indûment, puisque les dates extrêmes de son passage dans l'imprimerie sont de 1766 à 1773. Comme sa grand'mère et son père Jean Garnier l'avaient fait avant lui, Jean-Antoine insérait à la fin de ses éditions les privilèges accordés au chef de la famille, mort en décembre 1738.
On le voit, la date des Permissions sur les ouvrages des successeurs de Pierre Garnier n'est jamais la date réelle qu'on doive assigner au livre lui-même.
Cet imprimeur, ainsi que ses successeurs, trompèrent donc les acheteurs en leur vendant un livre de 1773, comme étant de 1728, et les derniers Garnier firent pis encore en imprimant, de 1780 à 1820, le même livre avec la date primitive. Ibid, pages 126-127.
A large number of the woodcuts were reproduced in the book Illustration de l'ancienne imprimerie troyenne. 210 gravures sur bois, 1850. The print run was as low as 80, and of course the text from La Danse Macabre was not included.
Woodcut no. 30 (chambermaid and housekeeper) might even have been one of the original cuts from Paris, 1491.