9 December 2009
DU HALDE, Jean-Baptiste (1674-1743). A Description of the Empire of China and Chinese-Tartary, together with the Kingdoms of Korea and Tibet. Translated from the French by Richard Brookes. London: T. Gardner for Edward Cave, 1738-1741.
2 volumes, 2o (400 x 247 mm). 64 engraved plates, plans and maps after J.B.B-d'Anville and others, by E. Bowen, J. Basire, G. Child, R.W. Seale and others (42 folding or double-page, including the large general map at the front of vol.I, hand-colored in outline). (Occasional small marginal tears and some light staining.) Contemporary blindstamped calf (rebacked). Provenance: Webster (owner's signature, dated 1847).
Second edition in English, of Du Halde's encyclopaedic survey, based on the reports of 17 Jesuit missionaries. It is probably the most celebrated of all the 18th-century accounts and was a prime source for the new fashion of chinoiserie. The engravings comprise 42 general and regional maps, and 22 other plates showing costume, smaller town plans, scenes from court life and other subjects. The maps were based on the Jesuit surveys carried out between 1708 and 1718. The large general map in vol.I incorporates Bowen's corrections of d'Anville's longitudinal markings. In addition to the information on China the present work is also notable for it's information on Alaska. "An Account of the Travels of Capt. Beerings, into Siberia" (volume II, pp.382-384), details Bering's 1728 voyage through the eponymous straits; the double-page "A Map of Capt. Beering's Travels from Tobolsk to Kamtschatka" bound between pp.382 and 383 is based on Bering's manuscript map, which was given to the King of Poland and in turn was passed to Du Halde to be reproduced here. This edition is considered the best edition in English: the first edition published in 1736 contained only 20 maps and plates. De Backer & Sommervogel IV:37; Cordier Sinica I, 50; Cox I:355; Lada-Mocarski 2; Lust Western Books on China 15. (2)
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