ISIDORE STANISLAS HENRI HELMAN (1743-1806)
Abrégé Historique des principaux traits de la vie de Confucius. Paris: chez l'Auteur and M. Ponce, [c. 1785]. Engraved title, 24 engraved plates by Helman, one handcoloured, with accompanying engraved text; Faits Mémorables des Empereurs de la Chine. Paris: chez l'Auteur, . Engraved title, 24 engraved plates by Helman with accompanying engraved text; Suite des Seize Estampes représentant les Conquêtes de l'Empereur de la Chine. Paris: chez l'Auteur and M. Ponce, . Engraved explanatory leaf, 24 hand-coloured engraved plates. 3 works in one volume, oblong 2° (553 x 395mm). (Some light marginal browning or spotting, a few leaves lightly browned.) 19th-century half diced roan, spine titled in gilt (some wear to spine and corners). Provenance: L. V. Ledeboer, Rotterdam (early 20th-century armorial bookplate pasted inside upper cover).
A RARE COLLECTION OF ALL THREE SERIES OF HELMAN'S DECORATIVE CHINESE ENGRAVINGS. The first comprises engravings illustrating the life of Confucius, from a set of drawings sent from China to Paris by Jean-Joseph-Pierre Amiot (1718-1793), Minister of Peking, and kept in the Cabinet du Roi. The accompanying text is an abridged version of the philosopher's life. The second series, which illustrate the memorable acts of the emperors of China, are after original Chinese drawings (according to Cohen/De Ricci, by P. Jésuite Attiret), also held in the Cabinet. Large plates were engraved on the orders of the Emperor, and distributed only in China. Only a few rare proofs remained in Europe, and it was after these that Helman engraved these reduced versions. Both these works were issued in folio and quarto format; here, the stitching indicates that the first set may have once been bound. The Suite des Seize Estampes, illustrating the conquests of Emperor Kien-Long, were engraved after drawings sent to France in 1765 by the Emperor, to be engraved by celebrated artists. Cochin supervised the task which was completed in 1774. Helman's copies were produced from 1783-85, with plates of imperial ceremonies added from 1786-88. Cohen/De Ricci 479; Lust 729, 1133 (here with variant title), cf. 1131.