• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 7725

    Valuable Printed Books and Manuscripts, Including Fine Plate books from an Historic Continental Library

    3 June 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 182

    ZAHN, Wilhelm (1800-1871). Die schönsten Ornamente und merkwürdigsten Gemälde aus Pompeji, Herkulanum und Stabiae. - Les plus beaux ornements et les tableaux les plus remarquables de Pompei, d'Herculanum et de Stabiae Berlin: Georg and Dietrich Reimer, 1828-1829, 1842-1844, 1849-[1852].

    Price Realised  

    ZAHN, Wilhelm (1800-1871). Die schönsten Ornamente und merkwürdigsten Gemälde aus Pompeji, Herkulanum und Stabiae. - Les plus beaux ornements et les tableaux les plus remarquables de Pompei, d'Herculanum et de Stabiae Berlin: Georg and Dietrich Reimer, 1828-1829, 1842-1844, 1849-[1852].

    First series (pts. 1-10), second series (pts. I-10), third series (pts. 1-8 only of 10), broadsheet 2° (715 x 570mm. & 725 x 605mm). 1st series: 10ff. letterpress, 11 chromolithographic part-titles, the two titles to pt. 1 mounted, 101 numbered plates, 35 of these chromolithographs or with added hand-colouring, plates 7 and 39 on china paper, mounted. 2nd series: 10ff. letterpress, chromolithographic titles to parts 1-5 and 6-10 respectively, 100 plates, including 44 chromolithographs, printed wrapper to part 2 preserved. 3rd series: 8ff. letterpress, title to parts 1-5, 80 plates, 33 chromolithographs, wrapper to part 1 with printed label preserved. Each series separately numbered; text in German and French, unsigned and unpaginated. (Some variable spotting and occasional browning, more persistent in the 1st series, plate 77 of 1st series stained at margins.) 1st series: contemporary russia, dyed purple, by Ph. Selenka, Wiesbaden, with his ticket, gilt neoclassical borders, upper cover gilt lettered, gilt spine and turn-ins, gilt edges. 2nd and 3rd series: unbound in two modern green cloth portfolios.

    A MONUMENTAL ARTISTIC ACHIEVEMENT, reproducing in outline and in exact colours the paintings of breath-taking beauty which Zahn had discovered at Pompei over many extended visits. The first series is regarded as the earliest collection of ornament to be printed in lithography (Stuart Durant, Ornament from the Industrial Revolution to Today, New York, 1986, p. 12), and was based on field research made between 1825 and 1827. Zahn regarded himself as lucky to see the painting in its most vibrant colours ("lebhafsten Farben"), before it was destroyed by the fresh air or when the walls fell down. He also copied antique painting that used to be in the museum at Portici. For series two, he had been in Italy since 1830, trying to make the collection complete and colours true. He observes that tan colours had turned red through the heat of the volcanic mass, and that red turned to black. For the third series, he claimed to have improved the lithographic process for better colour reproduction.

    RARE ON THE MARKET. Furcheim pp. 97-98, already commenting in 1891: 'nur noch sehr wenige complete Exemplare davon vorhanden sind'; García y García pp. 1252-1253 no. 14.486; RIBA 3736 (1st series only). (3)


    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    Special Notice

    No VAT on hammer price or buyer's premium.