Description de l'Égypte ou Recueil des observations et des recherches qui ont été faites en Egypte pendant l'expédition de l'armée française. Paris: Imprimerie impériale, 1809-1813 and Imprimerie royale, 1817-.
23 vols., comprising 10 vols. of text (one of these, the 'Préface', 710 x 525mm, the others 405 x 265mm), and 13 vols. of plates (11 of these 710 x 525mm, the others, the 'Grand Monde' vols., 1015 x 690mm). With all half-titles. 887 plates (as the Blackmer copy, but with plates 3 and 10 in vol. 5 of 'Antiquités', and without 29b in 'Etat Moderne'), 40 of these coloured, the map of Egypt after d'Anville bound in vol. I of 'Etat Moderne'. (Some spotting and occasional browning, a few tears occasionaly with loss, mostly marginal dampstain in the 'Grand Monde' vols., one half-title torn.) Plate vols.: contemporary red quarter morocco probably by Tessier although not signed, spines lettered and tooled in gilt, the smaller volumes with a fleur-de-lys border in gilt on the sides (worn, a few spine heads and corners with loss, part of one spine detached but present); text vols.: near contemporary red quarter morocco, probably an early re-binding to match the plate volumes (the text having been issued in wrappers) and preserving the original lettering pieces (these clearly made with the same name-pallet as for the plate vols.), (one hinge split, spines sunned, sides lightly rubbed, a few labels chipped). In a 20th-century two-piece custom-made varnished pine case. Provenance: Lieutenant-General Louis-François Comte de Coutard (1769-1852; binding of all but one of the plate volumes stamped 'donné par le roi').
FIRST EDITION. A SET FOR PRESENTATION, ON VELLUM PAPER, WITH 40 COLOURED PLATES. THE FIRST COMPREHENSIVE DESCRIPTION OF ANCIENT AND MODERN EGYPT, AND A LANDMARK OF FRENCH PRINTING. Lieutenant-General Comte de Coutard's set, in part presented to him by Louis XVIII. Description de l'Égypte is the outstanding achievement of Napoleon's expedition to Egypt in 1798-1801, and provided the model for subsequent major French projects, including the conquest of Mexico. Napoleon had intended to follow up military campaigns with widespread reforms of Egypt's economy and institutions, thereby creating a modern, European-style state from which all trade between Europe, India and the East could be controlled. Nearly 500 civilians, including about 150 savants from the Institut de France, were sent to Egypt, charged with producing the thorough survey of Egypt and its antiquities which was to assist in planning the country's future shape. The work was co-ordinated by the l'Institut de l'Egypte, under the direction of Gaspar Monge, and based in the former home of Hassan Kachef (and illustrated in the plates to the 'Etat moderne').
As early as October 1798 Fourier was entrusted with the task of uniting the reports of various disciplines with a view to publication. Following the capitulation of the army to Egypt under General Menou (a convert to Islam), the savants returned to France where a commission was set up for the editing and supervision of the work. The huge volume of information to be published meant adopting an apparently haphazard modus operandi: when sufficient plates or text on a particular subject were ready, they were published. Despite this, publication of the entire work took over 20 years. Started under Napoleon's regime in 1809, there was a hiatus from 1813 until 1817 when the new Bourbon king, realizing the importance of the work, placed it above politics by supporting its completion. This was finally achieved in 1830.
THE MAGNIFICENT PLATES VOLUMES ARE DIVIDED BY SUBJECT AS FOLLOWS:
Préface Historique: 1 vol. The text is by Fourier, although Champollion-Figeac showed Baring proofs of it with copious additions by Napoleon himself. [cf. Bibliographical Account and Collation of La Description de l'Egypte, Presented to the Library of London Institution, 1838, by Sir Thomas Baring.]
Antiquités: 5 vols. Half-title, title, and 1-leaf list of artists in each volume. 326 plates, of which 27 printed in colour or finished in colour by hand. This division describes not only the ruins, with which Europeans were already more or less familiar, but also the objects excavated including the celebrated Rosetta Stone. This collation of portable objects was to have been removed to France but at embarkation William Hamilton (agent to Lord Elgin) and E.D. Clarke confiscated them and the majority survive today as the British Museum's Egyptian collection. The quality of the plates was much enhanced by the use of an engraving machine invented by Conté, which is itself illustrated among the plates to the following division.
Etat Moderne: 2 vols. Half-title, title, and 1-leaf list of artists in each volume. 158 plates, plans and maps. This division describes the architecture of Egypt subsequent to the Arab invasion of the seventh century, particularly Cairo, as well as sections on Arts et Métiers, Costumes et Portraits, Vases, Meubles et Instruments, Inscriptions, Monnaies et Médailles.
Histoire Naturelle: 3 vols. Title and 1-leaf list of artists in vols. I and II, half-title in vols. I and IIb. 243 plates, 13 hand-coloured or printed in colours and finished by hand. The principal sections of this division comprise geology and physical geography by de Roziere, mammals by Geoffroy-Saint-Hilaire, Jules-César Savigny and Audouin, flora by Rafeneau-Didile. Among the many artists who contributed drawings to this section include Barraband, Pretre, P.J. Redouté, and Turpin.
Cartes Géographiques et Topographiques: Engraved title, letter-press text and 50 plates. The origin of this survey was the inadequacy of d'Anville's map dating from 1765. The new survey conducted under Jacotin included not only Egypt but Sinai, Palestine and much of modern Lebanon, as an offshoot of the Syrian campaign. The maps were ready for publication by 1818, but presumably for security reasons, they remained with the Dépot de Guerre until about 1830.
'Grand Monde': 110 plates and maps, comprising the large format illustrations for the 'Antiquités' and 'Histoire Naturelle' divisions.
Atabey 343; Blackmer 476; Brunet II:616-617; En français dans le texte 219; Gray 1999; Graesse II:365; Monglond VIII, 268-343; Nissen BBI 2234; Nissen ZBI 4608. (23)