4to manuscript, ff. , written in a clear italic hand on the rectos only on thick paper (watermarks ‘J Whatman 1794’ and ‘E & P’), with an illustrated title-page, 90 half-page roundel illustrations and 29 smaller portraits in ovals, based on Dassier’s medals, all in pen and wash; most illustrations with tissue-guards; bound in handsome contemporary green morocco, covers with a wide gilt border of floral swags, sunburst cornerpieces, spine gilt in compartments with scallop rolls and a neoclassical head in profile, lettered direct ‘Roman Portraits’, edges rubbed and slightly dry; ownership inscription ‘Charlotte Hanbury 1 Vol.’, armorial bookplate of the Rycroft family.
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‘An Explanation of Dassier’s Medals being a Representation of a Series of Events taken from the Roman History’.
An exceptionally fine illustrated manuscript, with drawings after the series of sixty medals of Roman history from Romulus to the Age of Augustus produced by Jean Dassier and his son in 1740-1743. The drawings are executed with considerable finesse, adding detailed elements not clearly visible in the original medals, and making subtle alterations in the position and orientation of many figures. Sadly there is no clue as to the artist, and it is not clear if the work was produced to order or as a commercial enterprise – if the latter we cannot trace another example.
The Swiss medalist Jean Dassier (1676–1763), worked for several periods in England in the late 1720s and 1730s, before returning to Geneva in 1738 where ‘he continued to produce medals, the most notable being a subscription series of sixty small medals representing scenes from Roman history, executed between 1740 and 1743; an Explication of these was published in Paris in 1778’ (ODNB). In fact the Explication must have appeared earlier, probably as a promotional tool, as a German translation was published in 1763. The explanatory text here is a loose translation from the French, possibly the same as that published as An Explanation of the Medals Engrav’d by John Dassier and his son (Birmingham, 1795, 2 copies in ESTC). Neither the French nor the English text are illustrated, so the artist here must have been working from a complete set of the medals themselves.
Provenance: there were a few contemporaneous Charlotte Hanburys but the most likely candidate is Charlotte Packe (1762–1815), who married William Hanbury of Kelmarsh (d. 1807) in 1778. Their son Sir John Hanbury (1782–1863) married into the Rycroft family and died without heirs. Charlotte’s portrait was painted by Reynolds and she seems to have been a book collector of some sort – see Maggs catalogue 1014, item 46, for a Tasso bound by Burnham of Northampton with her monogram.
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REOPENING THE DOOR TO CHINA RICCI, Matteo, and Nicolas TRIGAULT.
De Christiana expeditione apud Sinas suscepta ab Societate Jesu. Ex P. Matthaei Ricii eiusdem Societatis com[m]entariis, libri V … In quibus Sinensis regni mores, leges atq[ue] instituta et novae illius ecclesiae difficillima primordia accurate et summa fide describuntur. Auctore P. Nicolao Trigautio Belga ex eadem Societate.
First edition. The ‘most influential description of China to appear during the first half of the seventeenth century. Trigault, the procurator of the Jesuits’ China mission, translated and augmented the pioneer missionary Matteo Ricci’s journal, aiming to elicit support for the mission. The De Christiana expeditione, therefore, is essentially a translation of Ricci’s Italian journal. Trigault, however, did not merely translate the journal; he omitted or changed many passages, rearranged its parts, and added material from other Chinese missionaries to complete the story and to depict China and the Jesuit mission in a more favorable light. The resulting volume contains a history of the Jesuit mission in China from its inception in 1583 until Ricci’s death in 1610, the same year in which Trigault arrived in China. It includes a wealth of information about China in the chapters which recount the history of the mission, prefaced by eleven chapters describing Chinese geography, people, laws, government, religion, learning, commerce, and the like. The De Christiana expeditione, despite its departures from Ricci’s original journal, provided European readers with more, better organized, and more accurate information about China than was ever before available’ (Lach III pp. 512-3). Three Latin editions had appeared by 1617, and translations were published in French (1616, 1617 and 1618), German (1617), Spanish (1621) and Italian (1622). Extracts in English were included in Purchas his pilgrimes (1625), but the first full edition in English, by L. J. Gallagher, did not appear until 1953. The Italian manuscript of Ricci’s original text remained unpublished until 1911.
FIRST ILLUSTRATED EDITION SA‘DI, Abu ‘Abd Allah Musharrif al-Din (Adam OLEARIUS, translator).
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