BROEBES, Jean-Baptiste (ca. 1660-1720). Vues des Palais et Maisons de Plaisance de Sa Majesté le Roy de Prusse. Augsburg: Johann Georg Merz, 1733.
Oblong 2° (420 x 600mm). Engraved and mounted on guards throughout. Title in French and German, 74 plates on 64 leaves, all on thin paper mounted on thin card, by Broebes, printed by Merz (three with folding flaps, eight leaves with two plates, one leaf with three plates). Contemporary mottled calf gilt, covers panelled using fillets and roll-tools with cornerpieces built up from small tools, central lozenge-shaped arabesque of small tools including drawer-handles, spine in seven compartments with raised bands, lettered in one, the others with symmetrical repeat pattern built up from small tools (spine and extremities worn, joints split).
The preface, by Merz, gives the circumstances surrounding the appearance of the work: Broebes, initially appointed Captain Engineer and Architect to Frederick I of Prussia, was made Professor of Architecture at the 'Königl. Kunst Academie' in Berlin and commanded by the king to make a visual record of all the Palaces and 'Maisons de Plaisances' in and around the city. His earlier training with 'Mr Marot' in Paris enabled him not only to draw the images, but to carry out the engraving as well. Unfortunately the death of Frederick interrupted their publication. Broebes retained the plates but he died before an opportunity to publish the plates arose; Merz was then able to buy them from his widow and publish them 'à mes depens'. Few of the plates are dated, but they appear to have been executed between about 1686 and 1712 (Frederick I died in 1713). The images vary from conventional plans, views and elevations to Carceri-esque sketches that do not look as if they were ever intended for publication. With three or four different ideas on one plate, these are executed with great freedom and are particularly attractive to the modern eye.
The work is more usually found with 68 plates on 47 leaves (Cf. Berlin Kat. and these rooms, 9 Dec 1983, lot 16). The present copy has been specially prepared butever it is not clear whether this was done by the publisher, perhaps for presentation, or by a subsequent owner. The images have the appearance of the mounted 'proof' plates on india paper that were popular in the first half of the 19th century. The plates are all printed on thin paper. The thin card mounts are created from laminated layers of paper, the uppermost of which (in 46 cases) has one or more rectangular sections excised into which the plates are mounted. The 18 larger plates are merely mounted onto the thin card.
The subjects of the plates are (according to the titling): Palais Royal de Berlin (5 plates); Arc de Triumphe à Berlin; Le Dohme de Berlin; Grande Ecurie du Roy de Prusse (2 plates); Academie Royale d.[e] B[erlin]; Palais Royal de Potz-dam (5 plates); Faisonerie proche de Potzdam; Palais Royal d'Orangebourg (15 plates); Palais Royal de Charlottebourg (5 plates); Friderichs Thall; Friderichs Feldt (5 plates); Capot; Glinike (3 plates); Palais Royal Köpenick (3 plates); Schonhausen (2 plates); Rosenthal; Fahrland; Borne (4 plates); Grunhoff (2 plates); Neudorff; Blanckenfeldt; Palais Royale de Conigsberg (4 plates); 4 unidentified plates; Bourse de Breme (2 plates); Porte de Breme. Cf. Berlin Kat. 2121.