PUBLISHER’S PROSPECTUS FOR THE 1820 SECOND EDITION OF THE MAGNIFICENT NAPOLEON-COMMISSIONED DESCRIPTION DE LÉGYPTE, WITH SUBSCRIBER’S SIGNATURE
(ANCIENT EGYPT) (NAPOLEON) COMMISSION DES SCIENCES ET ARTS D’EGYPTE. Description de lÉgypte ou Recueil des Observations et des Recherches Faites en Égypte… [Publisher’s Prospectus for the Second Edition]. Paris: C.L.F. Panckoucke, 1820. One sheet of laid paper (8 by 10-1/2 inches), printed on recto and accomplished in manuscript. $850.
Scarce original publisher’s prospectus for the 1820 second edition of the first comprehensive illustrated survey of ancient and modern Egypt, dated by hand 29 Avril 1820 and signed by the subscriber.
Once Napoleon conquered Cairo, he established the Institut d’Egypte in that city as a headquarters for the many scholars and scientists that accompanied the expedition. Reports from the expedition’s discoveries sparked Europe’s interest and ignited a craze for all things Egyptian that became known as “Egyptomania.” When several military blunders and defeats forced the French from Egypt in 1801, Bonaparte decided to exploit the political potential of Egyptomania to recast the outcome of the expedition. He ordered a large-scale project to publish all the recorded findings of the Institut d’Egypte. The mass of information compiled by the savants took over three decades to organize, print and issue. It is a testament to the demand for and importance of this work that the Bourbon King Louis XVIII completed this massive (and expensive) monument to Napoleon’s achievement and power even after the Emperor’s final defeat. “Never before or since has a study of such scope and thoroughness been accomplished on the basis of field work carried out in so short a space of time and under such inadequate and harrowing circumstances” (Herold). This prospectus thoroughly describes the contents to a potential subscriber, and serves as a contract for a subscription. The second edition was ultimately published in 25 octavo text volumes and 11 atlas folio plate volumes containing nearly 800 plates (contrary to the 900 advertised on this leaf) from 1820-26. Text in French.
Signature of publisher’s agent a bit smudged. Fine condition.