Bound by Georges Cretté, for Himself

Le cantique des cantiques.
Translated by Ernest Renan.
Paris: François-Louis Schmied, 1925. (10695)

Georges Cretté (1893–1969) studied at the Ecole Étienne in Paris and served until 1925 as lead finisher for Henri Marius-Michel (1846–1925), who was widely considered the founder of modern French bookbinding. Cretté, who signed his bindings “G. Cretté successeur de Marius Michel,” gradually abandoned the floral Art Nouveau aesthetic in favor of crisp geometric Art Deco designs that often incorporated inlays of metal, ivory, enamel, or exotic skins. One of the hallmarks of his style was his faultless use of gold fillets, which earned him the nickname “maître des filets.”

This binding of about 1928 came from Cretté’s private collection. It is copy 75 from an edition of 110, inscribed to Cretté by the illustrator and publisher, François-Louis Schmied (1873–1941): “A mon cher vieil ami et collaborateur Georges Cretté – F. L. Schmied.” The large white lily on the front cover was inspired by a verse from the Song of Songs (2:2): “As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters.” The design of this lily closely imitates Schmied’s illustration for that verse, although Cretté’s soaring gold fillets give the flower even greater elegance. A strip of dark snakeskin runs across the bottom of each cover.

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The Twentieth Century
Georges Cretté