“FOUNDATION STONES OF SCIENTIFIC ARCHAEOLOGY”: A CORNERSTONE OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL KNOWLEDGE, WITH NEARLY 1400 FINE 18TH-CENTURY FOLIO ENGRAVED PLATES IN 15 VOLUMES
MONTFAUCON, Bernard de. L’Antiquité Expliquée, et Representée en Figures. Paris: Florentin Delaulne, et al., 1722, 1724. Five volumes in ten, and five volume supplement. Fifteen volumes in all. Folio (12 by 17 inches), contemporary full mottled calf, elaborately gilt-decorated spines, raised bands, marbled endpapers. $18,500.
Second edition, revised and corrected from the 1719 first, with the five-volume 1724 supplement. Magnificent set of Montfaucon’s landmark work on classical archaeology, with nearly 1400 engraved plates (including approximately 250 double-page and folding plates). A splendid copy in beautiful full contemporary calf-gilt.
De Montfaucon (1655-1741), a Benedictine of the Congregation of Saint-Maur devoted to historical and ecclesiastical scholarship, pioneered the studies of Greek paleography and archaeology. “His Antiquité… surveyed in fifteen volumes the social and artistic aspects of the ancient civilizations; and the unfinished Monuments de la Monarchie Française tried to do the same for early French history. These works can well be called foundation stones of scientific archaeology” (Printing and the Mind of Man 175). In preparing L’Antiquité… de Montfaucon received contributions and assistance from many of the greatest European collections of antiquities of the period; most of these are credited adjacent to each of their respective illustrations. “As this work has never been completely replaced, it still conserves its long-standing value… Beautiful copies are not easy to come by” (Brunet 28960). “In spite of the imperfections that are impossible to avoid in such an immense work… one cannot deny that it has contributed to the spread, particularly in France, of the interest in archaeology, or that he did not advance this science among us” (Biographie Universelle). Text in French and Latin. First published in 1719, in an edition of 1800 copies that sold out in two months despite its enormous size and expense. Cicognara 2493. Armorial bookplate on verso of each title page. Owner signature, dated 1837. Bookplate of Philadelphia attorney John T. Montgomery, with a presentation bookplate of the Philadelphia Club indicating that he presented this set to the Club in 1888.
Interior generally clean. Expert restoration to contemporary calf, mostly joints and spine ends. A monumental work, most desirable in beautiful contemporary calf-gilt.