LABORDE, Count Alexandre Louis Joseph de (1774-1842). Voyage pittoresque et historique de l'Espagne. Paris: Pierre Didot l'ainé 'avec des caracteres de Bodoni', 1806-1820.
4 parts in 2 volumes, 2° (577 x 422mm). Engraved title-vignettes, half titles, etched and engraved additional title to volume I by Du Parc after Charles Percier, etched and engraved portrait frontispiece by J.B. Fosseyeux after Steven, 335 etched and engraved plates, plans and maps on 270 sheets by Daudet, Decquevauvillers, G. Malbeste, Vicq and others after Vivant Denon, Laborde, Liger, Jacques Moulinier and others, 2 double-page engraved maps. (Variable, light spotting.) Contemporary red morocco gilt by J. MacKenzie [endpapers watermarked '1829'], with Botfield arms at centre, panelled with gilt fillets, scalloped and foliate tools, double borders of gilt foliate rolls, gilt turn-ins, spines gilt in compartments, lettered in 2, the others panelled with multiple fillets, gilt edges (extremities a little rubbed and bumped, lower board edges paint-marked).
'The voyage established the literary reputation of its author ... It was the most magnificent, extensive, and accurate work published on Spain to that date' (Millard). Alexandre de Laborde's father, Jean-Joseph, marquis de Laborde (1724-1794) had strong commercial and political ties with Spain, and Alexandre in turn enjoyed close links with the country, serving with Lucien Bonaparte's embassy to Spain between 1800 and 1801. Attracted not only by the rich history and confluence of cultures in Spain, but also by the wealth of relatively unknown antiquities, Laborde employed an entourage of skilled draughtsmen with whom he toured Spain, methodically surveying the European and Arabic antiquities and monuments. 'The results are a monumental, comprehensive, encyclopaedic report, in which are recorded many monuments that have now disappeared...the high quality engravings cover a range of subjects, from fragments of ancient floor tiles to street scenes, cathedral interiors, and views of nature and natural phenomena. The detailed records of architecture, antiquities, decorative arts and utensils, and Moorish inscriptions are of much archeological value' (Millard). Voyage de l'Espagne was published in 48 parts over a period of fourteen years and the bulk of the cost was borne by Laborde, due to the financial difficulties of subscribers and potential benefactors; perhaps for these reasons there are variations in the number of plates between sets of the works, and although the text leaves of the present set agrees with the references cited below, the collation of the plates varies. Berlin Kat. 2769; Brunet III, 713; Millard French 83; Palau 128975 ('Magnífica publicación'). (2)