(Paris: Imprimerie Clousier [vol. I] et Lamy [vol. II-V], 1780-86). 540 x 360 mm. (21 1/4 x 14 3/16"). Five volumes. FIRST EDITION.
Contemporary blue marbled paper boards. Allegorical frontispiece engraved by Née after Moreau the Younger in the first volume of plates, half titles and titles engraved, a large folding map of Switzerland, and 277 (of 278) PLATES CONTAINING 428 IMAGES (of 430) engraved by Née and Masquelier after designs by Perignon, Le Barbier, and others (missing plate no. 278, with two vignette portraits of the authors, intended to be the frontispiece to volume I). Brunet V, 1546; Cohen-de Ricci 1075-6. Paper boards chipped at the edges and quite chafed, two spines with noticeable tears (though all paper still present), corners bumped, but the apparently original bindings remarkably solid and otherwise very well preserved, especially given their insubstantial materials. Occasional minor foxing or marginal smudges, isolated mild toning (a couple of plates a bit browned), otherwise A FINE SET INTERNALLY, the plates clean, fresh, and richly impressed.
This set of vast, striking Swiss views comes to us from an unusual team of authors: Zurlauben (1720-95) was a military historian from Zug in Switzerland and a lieutenant general in the French army. Laborde (1734-94) was the hunchbacked valet of Louis XV, and a great favorite of the monarch. The first two volumes of text, describing the goegraphy and history of the country, have their origin in Zurlauben's "Histoire Militaire des Suisses," published in Paris in 1751. The third volume of text--frequently absent from sets on the market--is an in-depth index to the work prepared by François Antoine Quetant. (Quetant calls for frontispieces in the two text volumes and in the second volume of plates, but the list of plates in the directions to the binder does not include these items, nor are they mentioned in any description of copies sold at auction in the last 25 years.) The engravings are striking to begin with because of the dimensions of the book, are well set off in our volumes by vast untrimmed margins, and range from the (mostly) dramatic and impressionistic to the (less frequent but quite lovely) tranquil and lifelike. Complete sets of this work are uncommon on the market. (CJW1001)
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PJP Catalog: 75.179