Dubois.   Urbain     - An unusual and unique find.
Three Carved Wood Blocks for Plates in both 'Cuisine Artistique' and 'Grand Livre des Patissiers' --
Wood block 1. - Cuisine Artistique 1888. Measuring 6 1/2" x 3 1/2". Dessin 263, plate 45. Gateau Millefeuille sur Grand Socle. Wood blocks 2&3. - Grand Livre des Patissiers et des Confiseurs 1883. one measuring 1 1/2" x 3 1/4". Dessin 228, plate 63. Croustade en Pain et en Riz. # two, measuring 2 3/4" x 1". Dessin 22, plate 19. Petit Pates a la Financiere.
The 3/4" thick wood blocks are finely and precisely carved by W. Guldenstein. Brandeburg Str 55. Berlin. They have the printers details written on the the back of each one, with the planche design and plate designation. The blocks are black with printers ink, but all the very fine details of each carving still clearly visible. The wood block engravings match the book engravings precisely. They are preserved in a custom made clam shell box in half tan calf with tan cloth boards and calf corners. The spine has raised bands with gilt lines. One red label and one green one with gilt lettering. Excellent condition.
- Urbain Dubois had two main passions; cooking and writing. Early in his career he became chef to the Rothschilds, established in a kitchen already famous for its refined style since the time Antonin Careme worked there. The next appointment was at the Cafe Anglais, the famous French restaurant located at the corner of the Boulevard des Italiens and the Rue de Marivaux in Paris. It was there that Dubois served under the famous chef Adolphe Dugléré, and it was at that time the Café Anglais achieved its highest gastronomic reputation. Next he moved to the equally famous Cafe Tortini and the Restaurant Rocher de Cancale. Later he became chef to Prince Alexey Orlov, an ambassador for Nicholas I of Russia. In 1860 in Berlin he became chef to the Prince regent, William of Prussia, who would become king in the following year. He also served at the Court of Wilhelm 1, Emperor of Germany, where he met and had a very unusual working schedule with the chef Emile Bernard. The arrangement had them each being responsible for the cooking on alternate months. This suited Dubois well, it allowed him time for writing. The carved blocks were matched to the exact design on each plate on each relevant book edition . It is amazing, in this age of digital manipulation just how accurate this labor intensive but finely carved blocks are. The results of these engravings on each page are what makes Urbain Dubois' books so beautiful and sought after. They are a gastronomic record of the 'Bel Epoque' period at its grandest, ostentatious and most affluent. The grand 'pieces montees' some reaching 2-3 feet high, made from all the best ingredients of whole game birds, whole fish, meats, pastilliage amply garnished with fruits, chaudfroid, various aspics, topped with Foie Gras, Morels, hatelets of whole Truffles, Cocks combes etc, amaze with their intricacy and fantasy. These blocks give a little indication of the effort, pride and expertise chefs like Urbain Dubois deployed, to raise the 'Grand Buffets' of the time to a level rarely seen now, except in culinary competitions. A very rare item.

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Antiquarian category
ref number: 10919