Le Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune
This is an exacting facsimile—and first re-print overall—of Baron Adolph de Meyer’s 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 privileged 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 Serge Diaghilev’s famous Ballets Russes, set to a score by Claude Debussy and inspired by a poem by Stéphane Mallarmé. The ballet debuted in Paris in 1912 and shocked audiences and critics 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 (photomechanical ink prints) 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 books.