GAUTIER D'AGOTY, Jacques (1717-1786) and Joseph Guichard DUVERNEY. Essai d'Anatomie, en Tableaux imprimés, qui represent au naturel tous les muscles de la face, du col, de la tête, de la langue & du larynx... -- Myologie complette en couleur et grandeur naturelle, compose de l'essai et de la suite de l'essai d'anatomie, en tableaux imprimes. Paris: Gautier [vol. I]; Gautier, Quillau pre et fils, and Lamesle [vol. II], 1745-46-.
Two volumes in one, broadsheets (592 x 430 mm). Title to the second volume printed in red and black, with both titles bound at front. 20 life-size color mezzotints as issued, with TWO ADDITIONAL COLOR MEZZOTINTS at front, being a large- and small-version of the "Tabula musculorum capitis" mounted (a few marginal repaired tears. (Some text leaves shorter and apparently supplied from another copy.) 20th-century brown half morocco, front cover with gilt-lettered title label (lightly rubbed). Provenance: Henri Duhamel du Monceau (1700-ca 1781), French botanist and author (subscriber's documents bound in [see below]).
AN OUTSTANDING ASSOCIATION COPY OF THE FIRST EDITION. Jacques Christophe Le Blon invented the three-color method of color printing in mezzotint, obtained a royal patent for the process in England from King George I in 1719, and published a small book on the process in 1725. However, Le Blon's attempt to commercialize his process through a company he called The Picture Office failed, and he eventually re-established himself in Paris, obtaining in 1737 a privilege, and in 1739 a twenty-year patent for the use of his color printing process in France. In 1740 Le Blon advertised that he was taking subscriptions for a treatise on anatomy illustrated with 60 plates printed in color. Before he could do much work on this project Le Blon died in 1741, leaving only one anatomical plate, which was completed and published by Jean Robert in 1742. Immediately after Le Blon's death, a printer and engraver who had worked briefly for Le Blon, Jacques-Fabien Gautier (1716-85), who would later add "d'Agoty" to his name, claimed to have enhanced Le Blon's process by adding black (though Le Blon had previously used a black plate on occasion), and obtained the royal privilege for color printing in France for thirty years. However, the heirs of Le Blon objected, and in 1742 the King withdrew Gautier's privilege. In 1742 Gautier purchased the privilege from Le Blon's heirs.
Why Le Blon thought the color-printing process was appropriate for anatomy is unclear. Perhaps he sensed that there was a market for a new style of books on human anatomy. Whatever Le Blon's motivation, when Gautier set out to commercialize color printing after Le Blon's death he decided to exploit the market for books on anatomy and natural history. Over the next thirty years Gautier would draw, engrave, and print in color a series of books which were as radically original and dramatic in their size and artistic composition as they were original in their manner of production. Though all of Gautier's books contained some explanatory text, it was overwhelmed by the power of the images, and in turn, whatever science might have been shown in the images was overwhelmed by the drama of the color and the composition. Furthermore, Gautier intended the varnished versions of his images, which he offered at an additional charge, to resemble oil paintings--an artistic quality not attempted previously in book illustrations, and most certainly not in anatomical illustration.
Gautier's first project was production of eight prints of the face, neck, head, tongue and larynx, which he issued in 1745, followed one year later by a second group of twelve mostly larger prints showing muscles of the pharynx, torso, arms and legs. Gautier made the drawings and the mezzotint plates for all these images from cadavers dissected by Joseph Guichard Duverney, lecturer in anatomy at the Jardin du Roi. A year later Gautier issued the two works together with a general title, Myologie Complète. "The dedication and copyright notices make no bones about Gautier's claims as inventor and skilled practitioner in this new art of colour printing. Duverney, the academic partner, signs the dedication (to Lapeyronie, the king's doctor) asserting that colour printing can nowhere make a greater contribution to scientific understanding than in anatomy" (Franklin, Early Colour Printing  43-44.)
Among the plates in the second series is the fascinating "Ange Anatomique," the muscles of her back stripped out like an angel's wings-a beautiful, haunting, and strangely sensual image.
This copy belonged to Henri-Louis Duhamel du Monceau, a French naval engineer and botanist, and the son of Alexandre Duhamel, lord of Denainvilliers. Duhamel du Monceau was perhaps just the type of rich amateur scientist who Gautier d'Agoty expected to form the market for his spectacular and expensive publications. From the original receipts signed by Gautier in this copy we learn that a complete copy of the Myologie cost 90 livres bound, 97 livres varnished and 102 livres bound and varnished-huge sums at the time. Printing in color involved much more precision in engraving, presswork and equipment than traditional printing and hand-coloring. To help finance these expensive publications, Gautier published his books in parts by subscription, original signed receipts for which are preserved in this copy. A trial plate also included in this copy is dated 1741, indicating that Gautier d'Agoty began work on this project almost immediately after Le Blon's death. This unique copy, previously in the Jammes Collection, was exhibited in 1996 at the Bibliothèque Nationale in a show entitled Anatomie de la Couleur: L'invention de l'estampe en couleurs. Individual plates from the volume are reproduced as items 91, 93-97 in the catalogue of that show. Garrison-Morton 398; Choulant-Frank pp. 270-71; Garrison-Morton 398; Lilien, Jacob Christoph Le Blon (1985) pp. 145-46; NLM/Blake p.169; Singer 1-20.; Wellcome II, p. 97.
[Tipped in at front:] GAUTIER. Manuscript document signed ("Gautier"), to HENRI DUHAMEL DU MONCEAU, 1754. 1 page, 4to. Gautier notes that he has received payment from Duhamel du Monceau for "planches de mon cours d'anatomie..." -- Printed subscription forms for DUHAMEL DU MONCEAU, each accomplished in manuscript and signed by Gautier, noting delivery of various parts of the work. -- Two printed receipts of payment for DUHAMEL DU MONCEAU, Paris, 1748, printed forms accomplished in manuscript and signed by Gautier. -- Three printed prospectuses ("Projet général") for the work, two 2 pages and one 4 pages, one dated 1751, the others undated.