LOUIS FRANÇOIS CASSAS (1756-1827) AND JOSEPH LA VALLÉE
[Voyage pittoresque de la Syrie, de la Phoneicie, de la Palaestine, et de la Basse-Egypte…] Paris: De L’Imprimerie De la Republique, An VII . 3 volumes bound in 2, large 2° (500 x 330mm). 180 engraved plates, of which 28 are folding or double-page, with original protective tissues. (Issued without title, some minimal spotting.) 19th-century calf and marbled boards (rubbed, spine ends chipped, short tear in Vol. II upper hinge). Provenance: Sir John Thornton (signature on first leaf Vol. I, II) -- The Signet Library (gilt arms on upper and lower covers, sold at Sotheby’s 1 July 1992, lot 745).
FIRST EDITION, all published. Originally issued in 5 Livraisons with 40 preliminary text leaves and a prospectus, but without title-page. The engravings here are numbered in the plate, not entirely sequentially. Cassas accompanied Choiseul-Gouffier’s embassy to Constantinople in 1784, and until 1787 he travelled through the Levant, Egypt, Syria and Cyprus where he prepared the drawings for this work, the engravings for which are in strong, dark impressions in this copy. No subsequent edition appeared; the plates were destroyed by fire in 1836. Laid-in is a 6-page note in a 19th-century hand, on 2 leaves folded, with an extract on Palmyra taken from J.L. Porter’s Five Years in Damascus, 1855. Blackmer 295 (178 plates); Atabey 201 (179 plates); Cohen-De Ricci 204-205 (173 and 192 plates); RIBA 580 (183 plates).