[ALBERTI, Johann Christoph Ludwig (1768-1812). - Otto, Baron de HOWEN (fl.1808-1834) and Jacob SMIES (1764-1833), artists.] Vues d'Afrique Méridionale. [Amsterdam: E.Maaskamp, 1811?].
Large oblong 2° (438 x 582mm). Letterpress title (verso blank), letterpress description of the plates (verso blank). 4 FINE HAND-COLOURED AQUATINT PLATES by L.Portman after Howen and Smies, printed by (?)E.Maaskamp. (Neat repaired slit to plate mark of the second plate.) Contemporary marbled paper-covered boards (backstrip split), 20th-century cloth box.
A FINE SET OF THE EXTREMELY RARE FRENCH ISSUE OF THE "ALBERTI PRINTS". These were originally printed with extensive explanatory titling in Dutch beneath each plate, and the names of the artists, engraver and publisher. This original Dutch-language issue was intended as an accompaniment to Alberti's De Kaffers aan de Zuidkust van Afrika (Amsterdam: Maaskamp, 1810, 8°). The present issue, with no imprints or titling to the plates and the letterpress title and explanatory text in French was issued simultaneously with the French translation of Alberti's work Description physique et historique des Caffres sur la cöté méridionale de l'Afrique (Amsterdam: Maaskamp, 1811, 8°).
Alberti "accompanied General J.W.Janssens when he preceded to the Cape as Governor of the Colony under the Batavian Republic, in 1802. He was a captain in the Fifth Battalion of the "Corps de Waldeck," and in the following spring was sent to Fort Frederick in Algoa Bay, where he took the direction of affairs relating to the Kaffirs and Hottentots, and acted as landrost" (Mendelssohn I,p.18). The original drawings were apparently made on the spot by Baron de Howen, worked up by Smies in Amsterdam and then engraved and aquatinted by Portman. Otto, Baron de Howen was a Russian-born artillery officer, while Jacob Smies, known chiefly as a caricaturist, was clearly employed here to give a professional polish to a gifted amateur's work. Cf. Kennedy A18-21; cf. Mendelssohn I,pp.18.