MONTFERRAND, Auguste de (1786-1858). Autograph manuscript, 'Description de l’habitation d’un Maçon, Tome 1', with extensive revisions, Paris, 1853.
MONTFERRAND, Auguste de (1786-1858). Autograph manuscript, 'Description de l’habitation d’un Maçon, Tome 1', with extensive revisions, Paris, 1853.
MONTFERRAND, Auguste de (1786-1858). Autograph manuscript, 'Description de l’habitation d’un Maçon, Tome 1', with extensive revisions, Paris, 1853.
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MONTFERRAND, Auguste de (1786-1858). Autograph manuscript, 'Description de l’habitation d’un Maçon, Tome 1', with extensive revisions, Paris, 1853.

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MONTFERRAND, Auguste de (1786-1858). Autograph manuscript, 'Description de l’habitation d’un Maçon, Tome 1', with extensive revisions, Paris, 1853.

In French, 178 pages, 273 x 205mm (paginated 1-176 in autograph), including one small architectural sketch (on p.134), bound with a printed text, 'Catalogue et déscription des faiences italiennes, dites Majolica', n.p., n.d., 55 pages (bookplate removed from verso of title, with small losses to paper, occasional browning to the manuscript pages, the printed pages with some foxing), a drawing by Montferrand loosely inserted depicting a female inn-keeper, dated Wiborg [i.e. Vyborg], 18 February 1857, and annotated 'l’hôtel Motte est le plus affreux antre qui existe dans le monde entier...’. 19th-century half-calf (the binding worn, split through at hinges and clumsily repaired with tape).

The full title gives a flavour of the work: 'Description de l’habitation d’un Maçon; avec les singulières idées de ce Personnage sur les arts, son jugement sur plusieurs artistes de sa profession, et sa prophétie sur la splendeur de la noble science de l’architecture, lorsque l’utopie de l’abbé de Saint-Pierre sera réalisée [Description of the dwelling of a mason, with the singular ideas of this person on the arts, his judgement on several artists of his profession, and his prophecy of the splendour of the noble science of architecture, when the utopia of the Abbé Saint-Pierre will be realised]’: the introductory note elaborates that it contains his memories of 40 years spent in St Petersburg, including the portraits of personages he knew, 'anecdotes which I have heard told in the salons or at home', as well as an account of the principal people and events in the city at that period. The resulting volume, divided here into three chapters, is a curious combination of autobiography, architectural treatise and a loving record of Montferrand's house in St Petersburg and the extensive collections which it contains. The work as a whole appears to be unpublished, although a section of chapter II describing a statue of Julius Caesar was printed at St Petersburg in 1849, and the majolica catalogue, as present here, in the same city in 1854. Although the present manuscript is entitled 'Tome 1', subsequent volumes, if they ever existed, are now lost.

Auguste de Montferrand is one of the most influential architects in the early 19th-century development of St Petersburg, responsible amongst others for St Isaac's Cathedral and the Alexander Column. Although French by birth, he worked exclusively in Russia from 1816 until his death in 1858: in parallel with his architectural work, he was a compulsive collector of works of art, in particular majolica and Greco-Roman statuary. The collection was dispersed after his death.

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