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PERCIER, Charles (1764--1838)
Palais, maisons, et autres édifices modernes, dessinés à Rome; publiés à Paris, l'an 6 de la République française (1798, v. st.).
A Paris chez Ducamp, marchand papetier. De l'imprimerie de Baudouin, [1798].
7, [1], 3, [1], 36 p., 100 [i.e. 99] pl. ; 40.6 cm. (2°)

This specially made-up, possibly unique copy of the first issue was presented by its authors, Charles Percier and P.F.L. Fontaine (1762--1853) to Josephine, wife of Napoléon Bonaparte, probably around the time they were commissioned in 1799 to transform Malmaison into a suitable residence for the First Consul. It includes a complete duplicate set of the plates elaborately hand-coloured, either by Percier and Fontaine themselves or, more probably, by another hand working from their original watercolours. The absence of Percier and Fontaine's names on the title-page at this stage may have been a compromise to avoid giving offence to their former collaborators - in particular Léon Dufourny (1754--1818) who wrote the 'Explication des Planches' and Charles Louis Bernier (1755--1830) who had worked with them on drawings for the plates during their Grand Prix pensionnaire years in Rome between 1788 and 1792. In all later issues the title-page is differently worded to read '... publiés à Paris par Charles Percier et P.F.L. Fontaine en 1798'. The absence of the list of subscribers in this copy is more difficult to explain. Either it was suppressed because it was thought inappropriate to draw attention to other, lesser supporters of the book in such an exalted context or, more prosaically, the list was not yet printed. Hooked on Books 9.1; see also P. Thornton and H. Dorey, A miscellany of objects from Sir John Soane's Museum (London 1992), fig. 11, p. 21.

Copy Notes Inscribed in ink on title-page following the title Par Charles Percier et P.F.L. Fontaine / architectes pensionnaires de France à Rome. Contrary to what is stated in the exhibition catalogue Hooked on Books: the Library of Sir John Soane (2004), cat. no. 9.1, Soane bought this copy at a sale of the 'Library of a Foreigner of Distinction [Mr. Huybers] ... brought from Malmaison', held in London by the auctioneer Samuel Sotheby on 28--30 May 1818 (q.v.), lot 281. The plates are protected by tissue-guards.

Binding Contemporary late C18th green morocco, upper and lower covers with gilt-tooled borders of scroll and leaf motifs and central panels in elaborate gilt-tooled surrounds, gilt-lettered 'Madame Bonaparte', gilt-tooled and lettered spine, gilt edges, gilt-tooled turn-in, green silk doublures.

Reference Number 4415


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