One of 325 copies

Forbin, Louis Nicolas Philippe Auguste. Voyage dans le Levant en 1817 et 1818.

Paris, de l'Imprimerie Royale, 1819.

Text vol. in 8vo and atlas in folio (670 x 503 mm). (4), 460 pp. (4), 65 pp. Half-titles in both vols.; 80 lithographed, sepia aquatint or engraved plates and plans, the 8 fine aquatints by Debucourt after Forbin, the lithographed subjects for G. Engelmann after Lecomte, Deseynes, Castellan, Carle, and Horace Vernet, Fragonard, Thiénon, Legros, Isabey and others, large folding engraved plan at the end of text vol. 19th century marbled half calf with giltstamped title to gilt spine.


First edition. Only 325 copies of this work were produced. "Forbin's was one of the first important French books to use lithography on a grand scale, and the standard of production is equal to that of Napoléon's 'Description de l'Egypte' or Denon's 'Voyage'" (Navari, Blackmer). Forbin succeeded Denon as director of museums in 1816 and was authorised to purchase antiquities for the Louvre (his son-in-law, Marcellus, expedited the acquisition of the recently discovered Venus de Milo). In August 1817 he began a year-long journey to the Levant accompanied by the artist Pierre Prévost and the engineer de Bellefonds. His journey took him to Melos, Athens, Constantinople, Smyrna, Ephesus, Acre, Jaffa, Jerusalem, Cairo, Luxor, and Thebes.

This set includes the frequently lacking 8vo text volume: this has the plan of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre bound at the end with a list of plates which were sold separately. The atlas volume repeats the text (entirely reset in-folio, sometimes found in a separate folio volume) and includes the magnificent, highly desirable plates (after Carle Vernet, Fragonard, Isabey, and Forbin himself, as well as Prevost), which show fine views of Greece, the Dead Sea, Jerusalem, Ramla, Gaza, and Egypt.

Occasional slight foxing, still a splendid copy from the library of the ducs de Luynes at the Château de Dampierre: their bookplate reproducing the arms of Charles Marie d'Albert de Luynes (1783-1839), 7th Duc de Luynes, on pastedown. The Aboussouan copy (comprising both the folio and the octavo volume) commanded £20,000 at Sotheby's in 1993, while in 2002 the Atabey copy of the folio volume alone fetched £22,000.


Atabey 447f. Blackmer 614. Aboussouan 338. Weber I, 68-70. Röhricht 1660. Tobler 144f. Colas 1089. Hiler 321. Ibrahim-Hilmy I, 163. Brunet II, 1337. Graesse II, 614. Cf. Lipperheide Ma 16 (2nd ed.).