Description de l'Égypte, housed in a custom made display cabinet
PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT EUROPEAN COLLECTION
DESCRIPTION DE L'ÉGYPTE
Description de l'Égypte, ou recueil des observations et des recherches qui ont été faites en Égypte pendant l'expédition de l'armée française, publié par les orders de Sa Majesté l’Empereur Napoléon le Grand. Paris: Imprimerie impériale, and Imprimerie Royale, 1809-1828
FIRST EDITION, 35 volumes, comprising:
9 VOLUMES OF TEXT BOUND IN 21, folio (395 x 255mm.), half-titles, ILLUSTRATIONS: Antiquités mémoires I: 3 engraved plates and maps (2 folding), 10 letterpress tables (5 folding); Antiquités mémoires II: 19 engraved plates (mostly of the demotic text on the Rosetta Stone), 2 folding engraved maps, engraved portrait; Antiquités déscriptions II: 2 engraved portraits; Histoire naturelle II: folding engraved plate; État moderne I: typeset music; État moderne II pt 1: engraved plate; État moderne II pt 2: 4 engraved plates (3 folding), engraved portrait, original blue or pink wrappers, uncut, some spotting, most wrappers slightly worn
11 PLATE VOLUMES, ELEPHANT FOLIO (average 710 x 525mm.), all but one with half-title, comprising:
Préface historique; Explication des planches, text only
Antiquités I: frontispiece, engraved map and 100 plates (4 coloured), 87 in this volume, remaining 14 plates bound in larger volume,
Antiquités II: 93 plates (18 coloured), 61 in this volume, remaining 31 plates bound in larger volume
Antiquités III: 69 plates (1 colour), 43 in this volume, remaining 26 plates bound in larger volume
Antiquités IV: 74 plates (1 colour), 61 in this volume, remaining 13 plates bound in larger volume
Antiquités V: 89 plates, 73 in this volume, remaining 16 plates bound in larger volume
État moderne I: folding map, 83 plates, 75 in this volume, remaining 8 plates bound in larger volume
État moderne II: 87 plates, 83 in this volume, remaining 4 plates bound in larger volume, binding slightly bumped
Histoire naturelle I: 62 plates
Histoire naturelle II: contents leaf, 105 plates, without half-title
Histoire naturelle II bis: 77 plates (13 coloured, mostly mineralogy)
3 OVERSIZE PLATE VOLUMES, DOUBLE-ELEPHANT FOLIO (1080 x 695mm.), two containing 95 of the larger plates from all of the above, 31 (7 folding, of which 4 with hand-colour) + 64 (5 folding), the third volume being: "Carte topographique", engraved title-page, letterpress "Noms des ingenieurs...", key plate and 47 engraved maps (3 with two sections per plate)
Bindings of plate volumes: CONTEMPORARY RED MOROCCO-BACKED RED PAPERED BOARDS, FLAT SPINES GILT, fore-edges uncut, occasional light spotting, a few plates lightly browned, some volumes slightly rubbed
Together with a printed list of plates (printed recto and verso) and an engraved plate for an Egyptian-style cabinet to house the volumes
THE VOLUMES HOUSED IN A FOLIO GILT-BRONZE MOUNTED MAHOGANY CABINET INSPIRED BY THE WORK OF THE NINETEENTH-CENTURY PARISIAN CABINET MAKER CHARLES MOREL, WHO PRODUCED SEVERAL FOLIO CABINETS FOR THE DESCRIPTION DE L'EGYPTE AFTER A DESIGN BY EDME-FRANCOIS JOMARD, AND SUPPLIED CABINETS TO THE KING, SENATE AND PARLIAMENT.
A SPLENDID SET OF THIS MONUMENTAL WORK ON EGYPT.
The Description de l'Égypte was the first scientific survey of all Egypt, from its antiquities to its agriculture including language, music, costume, and natural history, and it concludes with a detailed and accurate map of the region. The numerous plates depicting the antiquities provide a comprehensive record of the richness of ancient Egyptian culture.
At the time of publication, the Description de l'Égypte was the largest printed work ever produced. Its influence was enormous, establishing Egyptology as an intellectual discipline and nurturing a passion for Egyptian art throughout the Western World. Edited by some of the leading intellectual figures in France, the Description also includes contributions from celebrated artists such as Jacques Barraband, Pierre-Joseph Redouté, Geoffrey Saint-Hilaire, Jules-César Savigny and others.
The combined work of several dozen scholars, this "living archive" of Napoleon's expedition took over twenty years to complete. The huge undertaking was co-ordinated by the Institut de l'Egypte, founded by Napoleon and with Gaspar Monge, the mathematician, as its president. Monge and the chemist Berthollet recruited leading academic figures to join the expedition, including Geoffrey Saint-Hilaire, Savigny, Méchain, Quesnot Nouet, René Desgenettes and the surgeon Dominique Jean Larrey. Of their many achievements, the discovery of the Rosetta Stone must rank amongst the most important. It was only after Napoleon's invasion of Egypt in 1798 that Europe came to know the Orient more scientifically. In the preface to the work, Fourier explains that scholars were grappling with the mysteries of Egypt in order to restore the country from what he sees as its current state of "barbarism" to its former greatness. By engulfing Egypt with the instruments of Western knowledge and power, Fourier maintained that history would recall how "Egypte fut le thêatre de sa [Napoleon's] gloire, et préserve de l'oubli toutes les circonstances de cet événement extraordinaire". With the publication of this monumental work, Fourier's ambition was certainly achieved.
BAL RIBA 846; Blackmer 476; Nissen BBI 2234; Nissen ZBI 4608
Guy Delavau (1787-1874), prefect of police of Paris (1821-1828), Counsellor of the State (1828), Officer of the Legion of Honour (May 1825); from his library at the Château de Meslay, Loir-et-Cher, France (with a folder of documents relating to Delavau)
Condition is described in the main body of the cataloguing, where appropriate.
We are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE.