Description de l'Égypte. Paris, 1809-1822, first edition, 23 volumes, housed in a custom made cabinet
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, 1809-1822
FIRST EDITION, 23 volumes, comprising:
9 VOLUMES OF TEXT, folio (380 x 245mm.), half-titles
Antiquités mémoires I: 3 engraved plates and maps (2 folding), 9 letterpress tables (4 folding)
Antiquités mémoires II: 19 engraved plates (mostly of the demotic text on the Rosetta stone), folding engraved map, engraved portrait
Antiquités déscriptions II: engraved portrait
État moderne I: typeset music
État moderne II pt 1: engraved plate
État moderne I pt 2: 4 engraved plates (3 folding), engraved portrait
Histoire naturelle II: folding engraved plate, engraved portrait
11 PLATE VOLUMES, ELEPHANT FOLIO (average 700 x 515mm.), all but one with half-title, comprising:
Préface historique; Explication des planches, text only
Antiquités I: frontispiece, engraved map and 100 plates (2 coloured), 86 in this volume, remaining 14 plates bound in larger volume
Antiquités II: 92 plates (18 coloured), 61 in this volume, remaining 31 plates bound in larger volume
Antiquités III: 69 plates (one colour), 43 in this volume, remaining 26 plates in larger volume
Antiquités IV: 74 plates (one colour), 61 in this volume, remaing 13 plates in larger volume
Antiquités V: 89 plates, 74 in this volume, remaining 15 plates in larger volume
État moderne I: folding map, 83 plates, 77 in this volume, remaining 6 plates in larger volume
État moderne II: 87 plates, 83 in this volume, remaining 4 plates in larger volume
Histoire naturelle I: 62 plates
Histoire naturelle II: contents leaf, 105 plates, without half-title
Histoire naturelle II bis: 77 plates (12 coloured, mostly mineralogy)
3 OVERSIZE PLATE VOLUMES, DOUBLE-ELEPHANT FOLIO (1060 x 675mm.)
Two containing larger plates from all of the above, the third titled "Carte topographique", engraved title, letterpress "Noms des ingenieurs", key plate and 47 engraved maps (3 with two sections per plate)
BINDINGS: TEXT AND PLATES UNIFORMLY BOUND IN CONTEMPORARY CALF-BACKED MARBLED BOARDS BY TESSIER (with his binder's label), and with small label of the bookseller Mulot to upper pastedowns, sheets uncut retaining deckle edges, spines with decorative rules and tooled in gilt, gilt monogram of Louis Philippe and black morocco labels titled 'Bibliothèque du Palais de Versailles', spines lettered in gilt, spotting to text and plates, sometimes strong, expert restoration to spines and joints
THE COMPLETE WORK HOUSED IN A LARGE FOLIO CURLY SAPELE WOOD CABINET WITH GLAZED DOORS AND DECORATED WITH EGYPTIAN MOTIFS CREATED BY MASTER CABINETMAKER STEPHEN BEECHING, THE WHOLE 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 ROYAL COPY OF THE FIRST EDITION OF NAPOLEON’S MONUMENTAL WORK ON EGYPT FROM THE LIBRARY OF LOUIS PHILIPPE, DUC D'ORLEANS, KING OF THE FRENCH, GIVEN BY HIM TO THE BIBLIOTHEQUE DU PALAIS DE VERSAILLES. THE COMPLETE WORK BOUND BY TESSIER AND HOUSED IN A MAGNIFICENT MODERN BESPOKE CABINET.
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
Louis Philippe, duc d'Orléans (1773-1850), King of the French (1830-1848) with his cypher stamped in gilt to spines [see Lugt 1756]); given by him to the Bibliothèque du Roi at Versailles (circular stamp in black to titles); retained at Versailles under the Second Empire in the Bibliothèque de la Couronne (circular stamp in red with Napoléon III's crowned eagle device to titles); removed by Napoléon III to the library of the Château de Compiègne (blue circular stamp to titles); inventory stamp of same dated 1873 (oval stamp in blue with the text 'Réc[olement]. Inv[entaire]. / 1873' to titles); 'Dépot de l'Etat' of the Ville de Compiègne (blue circular stamps to titles) and dated 1891; it is not clear whether the volumes remained at the Palais de Compiègne or were removed to that city's library but with the declaration of the Second Republic any Royal or Imperial association had ceased.
Condition is described in the main body of the cataloguing, where appropriate.
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