SOLVYNS Frans Balthazar (1760-1824)

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SOLVYNS Frans Balthazar (1760-1824)
Les Hindoûs, ou Description de leurs moeurs, coutumes et cérémonies
Paris, chez l'Auteur et chez H. Nicolle, de l'imprimerie de Mame frères, 1808-1812.
4 volumes large in-folio (560 x 415 mm), [2] ff. of which one is a dedication
-29 pp.73] explanatory pages-72 plates of which 12 double-page-[2] table pages; title-15 pp.-[72] pages-72 plates of which 12 double-page-[2] table pages; title-5-3 pages-[72] pages-72 plates of which 12 double-page-[1] table page; title-10 pages-[72] explanatory pages[72 explanatory pages-72 plates-[1] f. of table.
tan basane, boards decorated with a large Greek frieze inserted in triple gilt fillet frames with fleurons at the corners, large roulette of cold patterns, double gilt fillet and cold roulette, spine with titled nerves, tomé, dated at the end, and successively decorated with a Greek frieze, roulette and boxes of gilt fleurons, countersides decorated with a large frame of gilt and cold roulettes with gilt fleurons at the corners, marbled paper endpapers, gilt edges (binding signed J. Bohn. London)
Complete first edition of this superb picture gallery illustrating India at the end of the 18th century.
Each volume is preceded by a bilingual introduction, French-English, except the third one which is in French only. Also, each engraving is accompanied by a bilingual printed explanatory leaflet.
REMARKABLE AND CELEBRATED ILLUSTRATION ENGRAVED ON COPPER, PRINTED IN COLOUR AND HAND-PRINTED AT THE TIME: 288 PLATES, 36 OF WHICH ARE DOUBLE PAGE. In addition, 4 large coloured vignettes on the titles.
In this copy, the first volume is devoted to dignitaries, castes and religious ceremonies, the second to crafts and musical instruments, the third to boats and vessels, means of land transport, as well as different ways of smoking, and finally the fourth to crafts, flora and fauna, with portraits of different castes at the end of the volumes.
An Antwerp marine painter, Frans Balthazar Solvyns embarked for India to seek his fortune. He lived there for years, studying local customs and languages. In 1799, he published in Calcutta a collection of two hundred and fifty colour engravings under the title The Manners, Customs and
Dresses of the Hindoos.
The enterprise was a commercial failure, forcing Solvyns to leave India and settle in Paris. He set about republishing his plates, adding some forty new images, for this monumental edition in four large folio volumes published from 1808 to 1812. Each plate is accompanied by an explanatory text in French, together with its translation into English by Solvyns' wife.
RARE. A VERY FINE COPY WITH LARGE MARGINS, MAGNIFIED BY ITS ENGLISH NEOCLASSICAL BINDING. VERY FRESH COLOURS.
REFERENCES Colas II, n° 2767: "This book is rare and there are only a few complete copies"; Abbey II, 430; Brunet V, 432.
PROVENANCE Ruben David Sasson (1835-1905), director of the David Sassoon & Co. opium and cotton trade for eastern India and China (printed bookplate pasted on); Willis & Sotheran. London. Booksellers (pastedown label).
(Some corners dulled with slight tears, some old restorations, some accidents, used condition; numerous pits in the first volume not affecting the plates, slight pitting in the other volumes).
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