Voyage Pittoresque de la Syrie, de la Phoenicie, de la Palestine et de la Basse-Egypte, gravees sur les dessins et sous la direction de L.-F. Cassas, peintre.
Cassas, Louis-Francois. 1756-1817.
Book ID: 33123
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EXTREMELY RARE. THE MOST COMPLETE SET THAT HAS APPEARED ON THE MARKET SINCE PUBLICATION. It contains 192 plates which is the maximum number of plates encountered in any publication to this date.
Louis François Cassas (1756-1827) was a distinguished French landscape painter, sculptor, architect, archaeologist and antiquary. This is a monumental pictorial account of his travels in the Middle East and it was commissioned by the French ambassador to the Ottoman court. From 1784 to 1786, Cassas lived and worked at the French embassy in Constantinople. In 1784 he accompanied the Count Choiseul-Gouffier, the French Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, on his mission to Constantinople. Commissioned by him, he travelled from 1784 to 1787 engaged in making drawings for the Ambassador’s second volume of “Voyage Pittoresque de la Grèce”, published in 1809. He visited Egypt from October to December 1785, and drew the antiquities of Alexandria, the pyramids of Giza and the mosques of Cairo. Shortly afterwards he made several drawings of Palmyra, in the desert of Syria, visited the Holy Land and illustrated the ruins of Baalbec in Lebanon. He also painted Palestine, Cyprus and Asia Minor, drawing ancient Middle Eastern sites, many of which had never been recorded.
At the beginning of the French Revolution, the artist returned to France via Rome, arriving in Paris in 1792. The result of his labours then appeared in the “Voyage Pittoresque de la Syrie, de la Phoénicie, de la Palestine, et de la Basse Egypte”, which he began publishing in 1799. The originals of his works in oil paintings for both voyages were deposited in the Bibliothèque Royale.
This work was intended to comprise 330 plates, with accompanying text, but only 30 parts were issued, without a title page, and with text to accompany the first seven parts only. Copies vary in the number of plates: Atabey considers ‘around 180’ as standard.
Bibliographic references: Blackmer II – 455 – Quérard II – 67-68 – Gay 46 – Weber II 832. Atabey 201 (179 plates); Blackmer 295 (178 plates; wrongly described as 180); RIBA 580 (183 plates); Brunet I, 1616; Cohen-de Ricci 204-5 (173 plates, and also mentions an unspecified copy with 192); Monglond IV, 993-1005 (180 plates); Tobler 134; Brunet 1, 1616; Gay 46; Ibrahim Hilmy 121; Rohricht 1498.