An exceptional presentation & association manuscript, bound for and with manuscript dedication to King Louis XVI from the author, with the arms of Marie-Antoinette on the doublures indicating that the book was subsequently presented directly from the King to her.
This beautiful manuscript, specially prepared for presentation to the King and comprising 394 pages of text followed by 22 pages explaining the marine terms used throughout, was presumably written and decorated by the eminent XVIII century French calligrapher J. Foyt. Foyt prepared another manuscript for the dedicatee, De Sartine, which was similarly produced in imitation of a printed book. That copy was bound in red morocco by Derome, and was later found in the Nicolas Yemeniz and Cortland Bishop collections
Guillaume Poncet de la Grave (1725 – 1803) was a French historian and the King’s attorney at France’s Senior Admiralty Court.
The text, a history of the French Navy from its inception to the time of Louis XVI, is the same as that published in Précis historique de la Marine Royale de France, depuis l’origine de la monarchie jusqu’au Roi régnant (Paris, Eugene Onfroy, ). The published edition is in two volumes and without illustrations, and includes a different dedication (to Monseigneur de Sartine, Ministre et Secrétaire d’État au Département de la Marine) and preface. There is an index at the end of each volume.
The history is written in four divisions: 1. From the Navigation of the Gauls to Charlemagne; 2. From Charlemagne to the Crusades; 3. From the Crusades to Louis XIV; 4. From Louis XIV to Louis XVI.
The manuscript is composed of a half-title; a title-page with an ornament designed with the arms of France; a presentation leaf to the King with the autograph signature of the author; a preface of five pages with ornamental head-piece and letter; a frontispiece signed ‘J.Ft.fec. 1777’ displaying in an ornamental medallion a portrait of Theodoric or Thierry, the 15th King of France (679), with the following legend in French beneath: ‘drawn at the Saint-Wast monastery, in Arras, which he founded and where he is interred’.
8vo (16.7 x 10.8 cm). Calligraphic manuscript on paper in the style of a printed book. pp. , v, , 394, xxii, , signed at end of the Dedication to the King, ‘Poncet delagrave,’ all leaves ruled in brown and red inks, one full-page portrait and one half-page medallion portrait, several elaborate head-pieces, tail-pieces, initials and ornaments, ms. slip to page 206 bearing a maritime subject drawn by pen overlaying a medallion representing Louis XIV with the inscription ‘Lud. Mag. Religionis Assertor et Vindex’; original green morocco, gilt-stamped arms of Louis XVI on covers, red morocco doublures with gilt-stamped arms of Marie-Antoinette, flat spine decorated all over with gilt-stamped anchor ornaments, red morocco lettering label, gilt-filetted board edges, pink watered silk linings, all edges gilt, housed in later green morocco pull-off case.
Provenance: Louis XVI (1754-1793, dedication, binding) and Marie Antoinette (1755-1793, binding).
Stock ID: 93790