JACQUES BARRABAND, PIERRE-JOSEPH REDOUT and others
Description de l'Egypte, ou Recueil des Observations et des Recherches, qui ont t Faites en Egypte Pendant l'Expdition de l'Arme Franaise. Paris: l'Imprimerie Impriale, 1809-1813; l'Imprimerie Royale, 1817-. Bound in 35 volumes (text: 9 volumes bound in 21, folio [variously sized between 428 x 273mm. and 394 x 263mm.]; plates [format 'Jesus']: 11 volumes [546 x 710mm.]; plates and atlas ['grande-format']: 3 volumes [1080 x 673mm.]).
Text: 9 volumes in 21. Half-titles, titles with engraved vignettes, bound with all blanks and provisional contents lists (all designed to be discarded in final bound form). 31 engraved plates, maps and portraits comprising: 3 portraits, 24 plates [4 folding], 3 folding maps, 10 letterpress tables, 5 folding. Original wrappers, letterpress labels on backstrips, uncut (some neatly repaired tears with occasional slight loss to backstrips), all contained within nine cloth boxes, morocco lettering-pieces.
Plates and Atlas: 891 engraved views, plates and maps, 56 hand-coloured or printed in colours and finished by hand, including 14 coloured plates of birds, comprising: plates (format Jesus): 11 volumes (1 volume text, 10 volumes plates). Text: half-title, drop-head title 'Prface Historique', 50 leaves. Plates: half-titles, 9 titles with vignettes, engraved frontispiece and 731 engraved plates and maps, 48 hand-coloured or printed in colours and finished by hand, 1 folding. (Light old dampstaining affecting about 35 plates in the second volume of plates for the 'Histoire Naturelle'). plates [grande-format]: 2 volumes. 111 engraved plates and maps, 18 folding, 4 hand-coloured, 2 printed in sepia, 1 hand-coloured in outline. (Light old dampstaining to upper inner margin of one volume, affecting about 40 plates). Atlas [grande-format]: engraved title, 48 engraved sheets, comprising: engraved general 'key' map, engraved general map on 3 sheets, engraved map of Egypt on 47 plates printed on 44 sheets]). Original blue paper-covered boards by Tessier, backstrips with red paper lettering-piece gilt (some neat repairs with occasional loss to backstrips).
THE FIRST COMPREHENSIVE DESCRIPTION OF ANCIENT AND MODERN EGYPT, AND AN OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT OF NAPOLEON'S EXPEDITION TO EGYPT (1798-1801). THE WORK IS THE GREATEST OF A NUMBER OF OUTSTANDING SCIENTIFIC PUBLICATIONS BY THE FRENCH GOVERNMENT DETAILING THE RESULTS OF EXPLORATION, UNEQUALLED BY ANY OTHER NATION DURING THE SAME PERIOD.
VERY RARE IN THIS FORM: A COMPLETE SET OF THE FIRST EDITION IN ORIGINAL CONDITION AS ISSUED BY THE PUBLISHERS, INCLUDING THE 14 MAGNIFICENT HAND-COLOURED BIRD PLATES ARGUABLY THE GREATEST WORK OF JACQUES BARRABAND. The first edition was the only edition to include the 'grande-format' plates issued unfolded, thus allowing these very fine plates to be viewed as originally intended. The present set presents the work as it left the publishers, in French boards and wrappers, with the temporary contents leaves and blanks (which are normally discarded), the set offering a rare opportunity to appreciate fully the immense scope and grandeur of this vast undertaking, as issued.
The work is now one of the only tangible results of Napoleon's planned occupation of Egypt. The only flaw in Napoleon's preparations for the invasion was a miscalculaton of the Turkish reaction to France's unsolicited 'help' in sorting out its most unruly vassals, the Mamluks of Egypt. Had it not been for this, Napoleon's plan for following up military conquest by revolutionising the economy and institutions of Egypt might well have created a modern European-style state, controlled by France, at the axis of all trade between Europe, India and the East.
Plans to this end involved dispatching nearly 500 civilians to Egypt, the cream of whom were about 150 men drawn from the Institut de France, and known popularly as the savants. On arrival their first task was to make a thorough survey of every aspect of the country to assist with the planning of its future shape, and this was extended to cover the antiquities. The work was co-ordinated by the l'Institut de l'Egypte, founded in the appropriated house of Hassan Kachef (illustrated in the plates to the Etat moderne), with Gaspar Monge as president.
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 giving his support to the plan to complete the publication. This was finally achieved in 1830.
THE SET IS IN THE ORIGINAL PARTS WITH BOTH TEXT AND THE LARGE FORMAT PLATES BOUND IN A NUMBER OF PART VOLUMES:
Prface Historique: 1 vol., large folio (format Jesus). 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.]
Antiquities: Memmoires, text, folio; Description, text; Planches, large folio (format Jesus or grande-format), frontispiece, engraved map, 423 plates, 26 hand-coloured or printed in colours and finished by hand, and including 98 grande-format plates, 14 of these folding. 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 Cont, which is itself illustrated among the plates to the following division.
Etat Moderne: text, folio; Planches, large folio (format Jesus or grande-format), 171 plates, plans and maps, including 1 folding map, and 12 grande-format plates. This division describes the architecture of Egypt subsequent to the Arab invasion of the seventh century, particulalry Cairo, as well as sections on Arts et Mtiers, Costumes et Portraits, Vases, Meubles et Instruments, Inscriptions, Monnoies et Mdailles.
Histoire Naturelle: text, folio; planches, large folio (format Jesus or grande-format), 245 plates, 45 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-Csar Savigny and Audouin, flora by Rafeneau-Didile. Among the many artists who contributed drawings to this section include Barraband, Pretre, P.J. Redout, and Turpin.
Cartes Gographiques et Topographiques: large folio (grande-format), engraved title, 1 leaf letterpress text (format Jesus), engraved 'key' map, general map on 3 sheets, detailed map on 47 plates printed on 33 sheets. 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 Dpot de Guerre until about 1830.
Blackmer 526; Brunet II, 616-617; Gray 1999; Graesse II, 365; Monglond VIII, 268-343; Nissen BBI 2234; Nissen ZBI 4608. (35)