Adolphe de Mayer: Le Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune
Published by Steidl.
Text by Jacques-Émile Blanche, Jean Cocteau, Auguste Rodin.
This is an exacting facsimile—and the first reprint—of Adolph de Meyer's (1868–1946) especially rare book Le Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune, first published in 1914 in a handcrafted edition of 1,000. Today only six copies are known to exist, and this Steidl edition recreates a book from Karl Lagerfeld's personal collection.
De Meyer's book is a record of Vaslav Nijinsky's performance in the first ballet he choreographed: Le Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune (Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun) for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, set to a score by Debussy and inspired by a poem by Mallarmé. The ballet debuted in Paris in 1912 and shocked audiences with its eroticism and unconventional choreography. De Meyer's 30 photos capture Nijinsky's animalistic performance as the faun surrounded by prancing nymphs, and are an important record of Léon Bakst's Symbolist sets and costumes.
In this new edition Gerhard Steidl recreates the original, published by Editions Paul Iribe & Cie, with as much attention to detail as possible. Le Prélude is a hand-stitched brochure with a hand-folded dust jacket. Iribe's collotypes on vellum paper are recreated in offset as quadratone prints tipped-in by hand onto Somerset Cotton paper, mould-made by St Cuthbert's Mill—all in a limited edition of 1,000.