Rare views of Sicily: a beautiful example, with wide margins, of the first edition of one of the most lavish of all aquatint books illustrated by the foremost Swiss and British aquatint artists of the day, including the two Fieldings, after original studies by some of the leading European artists.
One of a very small number of aquatint books depicting Italian scenery, which shows Palermo (12 plates), Monreale (2), Segesta (4), Agrigento (16), Syracuse (16), Catania (5), Taormina (4), Messina (5), and several other towns, as well as temples, ruins, and views of Mt Etna.
D’Ostervald, the editor, originally intended to issue Voyage pittoresque en Sicile in between 27 and 32 parts, but as he states in the ‘Avis de l’Editeur’, he resisted this desire and limited the work to 24 parts, in order not to over-extend it, nor weary his subscribers. The remarkable plates are, as Abbey records, in large part the work of English engravers, whose reputation was very high at the time in France and who were responsible for 43 of the 92 plates. As d’Ostervald notes in the ‘Avis’, ‘j’ai attire successivement a Paris une douzaine de graveurs d’aqua-tint les plus habiles de l’Angleterre et de la Suisse’.
The author (born in Paris in 1771, dying c. 1840) was imprisoned for a time in 1792 as a royalist suspect. He married in 1794 and was attached to the Foreign Ministry, dealing with affairs relating to England.
Only 500 copies were produced, some coloured, some on india paper, but the survival rate of copies has been poor and the work is rarely offered for sale.
Two volumes. Folio (66 x 50 cm). (1) half-titles, title pages, (2) dedication, 40 pp. 1 map engraved by Orgiazzi, 92 aquatint plates by Franz Hegi, Theodore Henry Fielding, Newton Fielding and others after Forbin, Huber, Vauzelle, Lesamt, Bonington, Copley, Renoux and others, contemporary brown straight-grain morocco gilt, marbled boards; later endpapers, corners slightly bumped, edges untrimmed, moderate rubbing to joints.
Abbey Travel 262 (coloured copy); Brunet V, 1379.
Stock ID: 93456