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LAFITTE, Louis (1770--1828)
Description de l'Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile, et des bas-reliefs dont ce monument est décoré; composés et executés par L. Lafitte, peintre d'histoire, ancien pensionnaire de l'Académie de France à Rome, et membre de celle de Florence.
Paris: chez l'auteur. De l'imprimerie de Gille fils, 1810.
[2], 12, [2] p., X pl. (5 fold.) ; 20.5 cm. (obl. 4º)

The Arc de Triomphe, built between 1806 and 1836, was the last work of the architect, Jean-Francois-Thérèse Chalgrin (1739--1811). The bas-reliefs were designed by the history painter Louis Lafitte. The present text is a description of the temporary wooden Arc de Triomphe constructed in twenty days for the arrival in Paris of Napoleon with his new wife Marie-Louise. The letterpress and ten plates were evidently issued in at least three different forms. The Soane copy as described above (copy 1) is printed on papier vélin, with a title-leaf reading as above and a final leaf printed on the verso only with a vignette of a crowned eagle with lightning bolts, both in a decorative palmette frame. A similar copy is in the Marquand Library at Princeton University (shelfmark NA9360 .L13). The Soane copy of this form of the work is in a Napoleonic binding and was presumably printed as a presentation copy. Commercially available copies printed on ordinary laid paper, represented by Soane copies 2 and 3, lack a title-page but were issued in printed publisher's wrappers with the title on the upper wrapper reading: Description de l'Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile, et des bas-reliefs dont ce monument est décoré. Les gravures et les notes ont été données par M. Lafitte, peintre followed by the price and the imprint 'Chez L'Auteur, ... Debray, Libraire, ... Et Chez Les Marchands De Nouveautés. De L'Imprimerie De Gille Fils. 1810.' and with the same vignette on the lower wrapper. The copy in the British Library (shelfmark 557*.a.22) gives the price as 'Prix avec les dix gravures, 7 francs', altered in ink to 6 francs, and has pink wrappers; however, the copy in the Universiteitsbibliotheek Ghent (shelfmark BIB.ACC.027885), also printed on laid paper, has buff printed publisher's wrappers giving the price as 'Vélin, Prix, 5 francs', altered in ink to 6 francs. Many copies were probably sold in England without the original publisher's wrappers, since A.C. Pugin, acting as bookseller, had an English title printed on a ticket to be pasted inside the front cover as described in the BAL copy. See BAL, Early printed books, no. 1713.

Copy Notes Copy 1: Presentation copy printed on papier vélin (see general notes above), with the plates protected by tissue guards. Bought for 5s. 6d per John Williams at the sale of John Nash's library, 15--20 July 1835 (q.v.), lot 378. (Spiers Box, Purchases through personal friends; Curatorial Papers: Bailey, outsize box 16).
Copy 2: 26.8 cm. Ordinary paper copy lacking title-page or printed wrappers, with the plates and letterpress bound vertically. Bought from J. Taylor, Architectural Library, for 4s. 6d. on 5 November 1814. (Archive 7A/15/31). Plate 1 inscribed with measurements in pencil.
Copy 3: 20.4 cm. Ordinary paper copy lacking title-page or printed wrappers. Bought in a Christie's sale of 16 February 1815, lot 49 (with 5 other items) for £1 16s. Later bound (1) with the copies of Vues et description du Jardin des Plantes, 1813 (q.v.) and seven aquatint plates from Raphael's cartoons (q.v.).

Binding Copy 1: C19th green straight-grain morocco, gilt-tooled borders with entwined laurel, gilt-tooled imperial arms of Napoleon on upper and lower covers, gilt-tooled spine, with the name of the binder in gilt letters at the base '[R]EL. P[AR] BOZERIAN J[EUNE]', pink silk doublures, gilt edges.
Copy 2: C19th grey paper boards, paper spine-label lettered in ink 'Arc de Triomphe de l'Etoile. Paris.'.
Copy 3: C19th half calf, gilt double-rule spine, marbled-paper boards. Bound by Edwin Hutchinson for 2s. 6d., 28 February 1832. (Archive 7/16/29 book binding. half russia).

Reference Number 2568


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