A Complete Copy, with the Plates Hand-Colored, of "One of the Most Beautiful and Important Colorplate Books of the Northern Pacific" (Forbes)
Louis Choris. Voyage Pittoresque autour du Monde, avec
des Portraits de Sauvages d'Amérique, d'Asie, d'Afrique, et des
Iles du Grand Ocean; des Paysages, des Vues Maritimes, et
Pllusieurs Objets d'Histoire Naturelle; Accompagné
de Descriptions par M. le Baron Cuvier, et M. A. de Chamisso, et
d'Observations sur les crânes humains par M. le Docteur Gall. Par
M. Louis Choris, Peintre. Paris: De l'Imprimerie de Firmin Didot,
Imprimeur du Roi, de l'Institut et de la Marine, 1822. First
edition. Large folio (15.75 x 10.125 inches; 399 x 256 mm.). [2,
title (verso blank)], [2, dedication to Emperor Alexander I of
Russia], vi (introduction); 17 [1, blank]; -20; 10, 3 [1,
blank]; 24; 22; 28; 19 [1, blank], 6 ("Notice sur les Iles de
Corail du Grand Océan, par M. Adelbert de Chamisso"), [2, list of
subscribers (verso blank)], [2, directions to the binder and
errata] pages. Lithographed frontispiece portrait of Count
Romanzoff, Chancellor of the Russian Empire; 104 fine hand-colored
lithographed plates (eighty-nine by Choris; thirteen after Choris
by V. Adam, Franquelin, Norblin, or Marlet; one after Albert de
Chamisso; one unsigned), ninety-eight printed by Langlume´ (six
with no printer given); two lithographed charts on one leaf; and
large folding engraved map with with tracks of the voyage and those
of Magellan, Kotzebue, and Kruzenstern marked in colors by hand in
red, green, grey, and yellow. In this copy, all of the plates but
one are hand-colored (Plate IV in "Kamchatka" does not appear to
have any coloring). Most plates with original delicate tissue
guards, some partially torn away, some with tears, a few foxed.
In the present copy, Part IV ("Port San-Francisco"), Plate III ("Danse des habitans de Californie à la mission de st Francisco") is Forbes's state B, with credits "par Franquelin d'après Choris" and "Lith. de Langlumé;" Part V ("Isles Sandwich"), Plate II ("Tammeamea, Roi des isles Sandwich") matches state C, with credits following oval border, "Lith. de Langlumé" and "dess et Lith par Choris," and with the king's features less wrinkled, the background forming a continuous mountainous landscape, with buildings along the shore, small ships, but the Honolulu fort does not appear to be at the right; Plate III ("Reine Cahoumanou") is state B, with the credits "lith. par Norblin d'après Choris" and "Lith. de Langlumé," and with the queen in the center seated to the left, her retainer with kahili at right margin; and Plate XVI ("Danse des femmes dans les îles Sandwich") is state B, with credits "dess et Lith. par Choris" and "Lith. de Langlumé" and with the dancers proceeding from right to left, European man with hat (the artist?) at lower right, and large kou tree and palms in background.
This copy is bound according to the directions to the binder: "Traversée de Kronstadt, au Chili," preceded by twelve plates, numbered I-XII; II. "Kamtchatka, golfe de Kotzebue et terre des Tchouktchis," preceded by ten plates, numbered I-X; III. "Port San-Francisco et ses habitants...et description de l'ours de l'Amérique septentrionale, par M. le Baron Cuvier," preceded by fourteen plates, numbered I-XIV; IV. "Isles Sandwich," preceded by nineteen plates, numbered I-XIX; V. "Isles Radak," preceded by nineteen plates, numbered I-XIX; VI. "Iles Aléoutiennes," preceded by twenty-three plates, numbered I-XXIII (Plate XXIII not listed in the directions to the binder); VII. "Isles Marianes," preceded by seven plates, numbered I-VII.
In a contemporary binding of polished tree calf. Covers with decorative gilt border with floral corner ornaments within a single blind fillet; spine stained black and decoratively tooled in gilt in compartments with six raised bands and reddish-orange leather label ruled and lettered in gilt; board edges and turn-ins stained black; edges sprinkled red; marbled endpapers. With the original mauve printed front wrapper for the prospectus bound in at front. Binding lightly rubbed; corners bumped, with boards exposed; spine extremities chipped, with some loss at foot of spine, and with endband exposed; hinges cracked. Some foxing, browning, and occasional spotting to both text and plates; a few small stains; tidemarks visible in the margins of some plates. A few short tears. Despite these flaws, this is an excellent copy, in a handsome binding, which only requires a bit of restoration. With a small shelf label on front pastedown; small ink stamp on title-page: "Biblioth. / Academ. / Vilnensis;" and an additional ink stamp on verso of title-page in cyrillic.
"This work contains a final and very beautiful pictorial examination of the Hawaiian Islands and of Hawaiian culture as it existed prior to the death of Kamehameha I in 1819 and prior to the abolition of the kapu, or feudal system of government, following that chief's death. Louis, or Ludovick, Choris [1795-1828], a Russian of German stock, was appointed at age 20, official draughtsman on the Kotzebue expedition to the Pacific (1815-1818), the whole being underwritten by Count Romanzoff, whose portrait forms the frontispiece to Choris' account of the voyage...The Rurick (Lieutenant Otto von Kotzebue in command) made two visits to Hawaii, arriving first November 21, 1816, and departing December 14. The following year, the ship arrived on September 27 and departed October 14, 1817. During the course of this voyage Choris produced a vast number of important sketches and watercolors, some of which became illustrations published in the official Kotzebue voyage account...It seems always to have been his intention also to produce an illustrated account this voyage, and upon his return to Paris, he was encouraged to do so. The result was a spectacular and early lithographically illustrated travel account that has always been considered one of the most beautiful and important colorplate books of the Northern Pacific. It contains more early views of Hawaii, Alaska, and California than any other work of the period. Among the 19 Hawaiian plates are the famous portraits of Kamehameha and Kaahumanu and the first views of the village of Honolulu. The plates were lithographed by or under the supervision of the artist, and a number of variant states and redrawn images are found in copies of this work...This work was first issued in a series of 22 livraisons, each with loose letterpress text sheets and a number of lithographs enclosed in printed wrappers...the prospectus stated that the work would comprise 'from 12 to 15 livraisons' and that each part was available in three forms: Plates uncolored, 7 francs 50; with the natural history plates colored, 9 francs; with all plates colored, 15 francs. A map showing the route of the voyage was promised prior to the conclusion of publication...Title pages dated 1820 or 1822 (or both) may be found in copies of this work...The list of subscribers (accounting for 188 copies) includes the kings of France and Prussia, the emperor and empress dowager of Russia, gentlemen and ladies of title, and booksellers...A lithographed portrait of the artist is found in a few copies of this work...There is no evidence, however, that, its presence constitutes an issue point. It was very likely produced after the work was completed...There has been some bibliographic confusion as to the proper number of plates to be found in this work. The list to the binder accounts for a total of 104 plates (and includes three ornithological plates of 'Guillemot' numbered XX-XXII). During production, however, another was added following XX: XXI 'Guillemot à gos bec.' Plate XXI (as per the binder's list) was then altered to read XXII and Plate XXII became Plate XXIII, making a total of 105 plates" (Forbes).
"Choris' plates are lithographs of great beauty...they show the artist's preference in the selection, for his own account of the voyage, from many sketches made at the time of his visit...For Kotzebue's official report...Choris was much more limited in the selection of sketches in order to meet the wishes of the commander of the expedition...Louis Choris was the official painter of the Russian around-the-world expedition in 1815-18 under the command of Otto von Kotzebue...Choris made a great number of drawings during the voyage, which he was encouraged to publish on his return to Paris, particularly since many of these drawings were portraits of persons (Hawaiian rulers, etc.) which had not been seen before. This work has many plates of the Bering Strait and of Alaskan interest. There are also 12 plates of California subjects, 19 of the Sandwich (Hawaiian) Islands, and other plates of various places visited by the expedition...The text was written for Choris by J. B. Eyries, who acted as the editor in general, with occasional contributions by Baron Cuvier A. Vanenciennes, A. von Chamisso (for natural subjects), and Dr. Gall. This is one of the very valuable and fundamental works on Alaska, California, and the Hawaiian Islands" (Lada-Mocarski).
Cowan (1914), page 123; Forbes 541; Graff 699; Hill (2004) 290; Howes C397; Lada-Mocarski 84 (2nd variant); Nissen, ZBI, 881; Peters, California on Stone, pages 97-98, Sabin 12884; Wickersham 6676.
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