[LA BORDE, Jean-Benjamin de (1734-1794), Edmé BÉGUILLET, Jean-Étienne GUETTARD (1715-1786, and others)]. Description générale et particulière de la France [volumes I-IV] continued as: Voyage pittoresque de la France [volumes V-XII]. Paris: Ph.-D. Pierres [volumes I-IV] and l'Imprimerie de Monsieur for Lamy [volumes V-XII], 1781-[1799/1800].
12 volumes bound in 6, 2° (506 x 336mm). Volumes I-VI and VIII-IX with letterpress titles, several with engraved or woodcut vignettes, volumes VII and X-XII with engraved titles by François-Denis Née, Picquenot and others after Le Barbier l'ainé, Meunier, J.M. Moreau le jeune, and Paris, livraison 73 with engraved part-title by Née after d'Aubigny. Half-titles. 772 engraved plates on 457 sheets by Aveline, Baquoy, J.L. Delignon, Duparc, Liénard, Malapeau, Masquellier, J. Robert, and others after d'Aubigny, C.N. Cochin, Jean-Baptiste Lallemand, Chevalier de L'Espinasse, Moreau l'ainé, and others, 6 folding, the plate 'Vue de la ville de Perpignan' with letterpress cancellans slip pasted over caption, 5 engraved maps and plans, 3 folding, the 'Carte du Comté de Foix' with tipped-on engraved extension section. Engraved headpieces by A.J. Duclos, G. Malbeste, Masquellier, and L. Pauquet after Le Barbier l'ainé, Masquellier, and J.M. Moreau le jeune, woodcut head- and tailpieces, one folding letterpress table, letterpress tables in text. (Occasional light spotting and browning, light offsetting from some plates onto text, light marginal dampstaining on a few quires and plates in volumes III and VI, a few plates misbound, some quires and plates in volume VIII washed, causing discolouration, cracking and tears.) Contemporary diced russia gilt, Botfield arms on covers, borders formed of triple gilt fillets and wavy Greek-key rolls, gilt turn-ins, gilt spines lettered in two compartments, marbled edges, blue silk ribbon markers (spines lightly faded, occasional scuffing, rubbing and bumping, minor damp-spotting, a few early, neat repairs on covers). Provenance: Mrs Poyntz Ricketts, Baker Street (early booklabels).
FIRST EDITION OF VOLUMES I-X, later edition of volumes XI-XII. De La Borde's Description de la France was conceived 'as the history of the manners and customs of the French people and the geography and natural history of the different French regions' (Millard), and the first four volumes were produced in this spirit. Problems with sponsorship for the project, realisation of the many difficulties entailed, and the political upheavals of the period -- De La Borde was Louis XVI's valet de chambre, and died on the guillotine in 1794 -- meant that the text was dramatically curtailed in later volumes while the proportion of illustrations increased. Yet, even though De La Borde's aims were circumscribed, his work became an important model for later publications. 'It surely was a prototype for the comprehensive scientific and thoroughly illustrated report of Egypt, undertaken by the French government [i.e. Description de l'Égypte ... (Paris: 1821-1830)]'. Millard French 85; Brunet II, 620-621; Cohen-De Ricci 291-295. (6)