An outstanding series of views of Versailles and Paris by one of the foremost drawing masters of his day. The work is characterized by many unusual subjects and interesting perspectives, and provides a fine record of Paris in the aftermath of the Revolution. It was produced in quite a small edition and has always been scarce and sought after.
The Versailles plates form a beautiful set, not only of the park of Versailles, the Trianon, the famous machine at Marly, which pumped water for the fountains of Versailles, but also for the environs including St. Cloud. Many of the Parisian views show the influence of Piranesi in the choice of angles and also Nattes was taken with the bridges; 8 of the views are of bridges and a further 7 are scenes drawn from beneath them.
John Claude Nattes (1765?-1839) was a topographical draughtsman and watercolour painter who travelled widely in England and France and a founder member of the Society of Painters in Watercolours. He trained as a pupil of Hugh Primrose Deane, the Irish landscape-painter. He evidently had a great affection for France in general and Paris in particular as at the end of 1822 he left England and almost certainly settled in France, where a number of collections of his drawings are located; his last known address was in St Germain. The main collections of his work are in the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Guildhall Library, London; the print room at Windsor Castle; the Bodleian Library, Oxford; and the National Library of Scotland.
“Some of the finest aquatint plates in existence are those done from the drawings of John Claude Nattes … The Views of Versailles, Paris, St Denis are well known as fine and attractive” (Prideaux, p. 274).
Published during the time of the Napoleonic War, very few English people would have travelled in France at this time. This probably accounts for the small edition and scarcity of the work.
First edition. folio (48.5 x 35 cm. approx.), [iv], 86 pp, including title page and list of plates. Forty fine hand-coloured aquatint plates, by Hill after Nattes (except for plate 29, by Cartwright after Nattes), plates on Whatman paper watermarked 1808, fine modern period style black straight-grained morocco richly gilt, first four leaves of text with neat restoration to fore-edge, 2 leaves with short tears repaired, an excellent example.
Abbey, Travel, 103. Prideaux p. 346. Tooley 342 (text in French).
Stock ID: 92937