BROSSET, Marie-Félicité.

Les ruines d'Ani, capitale de l'Arménie sous les rois Bagratides, aux Xe et XIe s.


Les ruines d’Ani, capitale de l’Arménie sous les rois Bagratides, aux Xe et XIe s.

Academie Impériale de Science, St. Petersburg, 1861

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Very rare atlas showing views of the ancient Armenian capital known as “the city of a thousand and one churches”.

Ani, founded more than 1,600 years ago, was the capital of the Bagratid Armenian kingdom between 961 and 1045, which covered much of present-day Armenia and eastern Turkey. It greatly benefited from its location on several trade routes, and grew to become a walled city of more than 100,000 residents by the 11th century. In the centuries that followed, Ani and the surrounding region were conquered hundreds of times – Byzantine emperors, Ottoman Turks, Armenians, nomadic Kurds, Georgians, and Russians claimed and reclaimed the area, repeatedly attacking and chasing out residents. By the 1300s, Ani was in steep decline, and it was completely abandoned by the 1700s. Rediscovered and romanticised in the 19th century, the city had a brief moment of fame, only to be closed off by World War I.

Russian investigation of Ani began in the 1840s when the city attracted the attention of Earl Mikhail Vorontsov, the governor of the Caucasus in 1844-1854. In 1850 Vorontsov dispatched an officer of the Russian army Jules Kestner (also Kästner) on a research excursion, who spent six weeks in Ani, during which time he created sixty-nine images of buildings and copied forty-two inscriptions. This work became a portfolio, consisting of forty-five illustrated sheets. Vorontsov forwarded the sketches by this “dessinateur habile” (Bibl. analytique) to Marie-Félicité Brosset (1802–80), a Saint-Petersburg-based French academic and a world-renowned authority in Georgian and Armenian studies. This marked the beginning of Brosset’s research on the monuments of Ani, and he would later publish the present monograph, Les ruines d’Ani, capitale de l’Arménie sous les rois Bagratides.

The atlas, here complete, mostly shows monuments of the ancient city, churches, mosques, walls – as well some general views and details of armenian inscriptions.

Rare: we could not trace any copy appearing in auctions in the past 35 years. Worldcat locates example in six countries – apparently none in the USA.


Atlas only, 2 parts in one volume, oblong folio (27.8 x 35.5 cm). Title of the II livraison published as general title for the atlas, XLV plates lith. by Rob. Mellin. Contemporary cream boards, upper board with gilt ruling and gilt centrepiece with the word ANI surrounded by crosses and scallop shells, green paper spine; rubbed and soiled, hinges broken, marginal waterstain on upper board and first ten plates.


Brosset (fils), Bibliographie analytique des ouvrages de … Marie-Félicité Brosset, No202, col. 377, atlas especially 385-7; A. Kazaryan, İ.Y. Özkaya and A. Pontioğlu, The Church of Surb Prkich in Ani, in RIHA Journal (International Association of Research Institutes in the History of Art), 30 Nov 2016.


Stock ID: 95108