DEBRET, Jean Baptiste (1768-1848). Voyage pittoresque et historique au Brésil ou Séjour d'un artiste français au Brésil depuis 1816 jusqu'en 1831 inclusivement. Paris: Firmin Didot, 1834-39.
3 volumes, 2° (512 x 337mm). Half-titles. Lithographic author portrait, facsimile letter, 153 hand-coloured lithographic views on 140 sheets (including 6bis and 12bis in vol. II) after Debret alone or with the Vicomtesse de Portes, 3 maps, lithographed by Thierry frères or Ch. Motte. (Spotted, a few repaired short marginal tears, neatly repaired minor marginal worming in vol. III.) Modern blue straight-grained half morocco, spine elaborately tooled in gilt to a Romantic pattern, edges sprinkled.
A RARE HAND-COLOURED COPY OF THE FIRST EDITION. Debret served as court painted to Pedro II of Portugal, Emperor of Brazil, in Rio de Janeiro. On his return to France in 1831 he began preparing the Voyage Pittoresque for publication, and it was issued in 26 fascicles between 1834 and 1839. Perhaps owing to its high price (coloured copies sold for 416 francs, twice the price of uncoloured copies), the work did not sell well and a large part of the edition eventually was sold as waste paper. Its popularity grew from the 1930s on, when Debret was 'discovered', and a street in the centre of Rio de Janeiro was named after him.
The Voyage illustrates all aspects of life in Brazil: its natural history, sports, ceremonies, landscapes, topography, inhabitants and customs. The copy described by Borba de Moraes had the 8-page prospectus bound in, and 2 plans of Rio in vol. III which are not present here, nor were they in any other copy offered at auction in over 25 years. Borba de Moraes p.214; Sabin 19122 (calling for 144 plates). (3)