Voyage pittoresque en Autriche.
Elephant folio (351 x 497 mm). 3 vols. 3 hand-coloured title-pages; 491 pp.; 16 engraved, mostly hand-coloured, and a few tinted headpieces; 12 engraved tailpieces (mostly hand-coloured, a few tinted); 101 engraved plates (two double-sized) with 145 hand-coloured illustrations; 18 maps, of which 12 double-sized, 16 hand-coloured, and one with an additional folding insert; two double-sized lithographed tables. Uniform contemporary straight-grain green quarter calf over marbled boards; spines with ornamental gilt lines and red morocco labels with gilt title.
Very rare complete set, in fine contemporary colour, of a monumental and richly illustrated work on the state of Austria, with far more information than one would expect from a "voyage pittoresque". Louis Joseph Alexandre de Laborde (1773-1842) was a French writer, archaeologist, military officer and politician. Young Laborde had been dispatched to Vienna by his father at the outbreak of the French Revolution; there he joined the Austrian army, in which he was named an officer at the age of 17, by personal intervention of the Emperor Joseph II. In 1800 he was an attaché of Lucien Bonaparte’s embassy in Madrid. Laborde's Austrian experience and his perfect command of German suited him for a place as secretary of the delegation under Marshal Berthier to ask on behalf of Napoleon for the hand of the archduchess Marie Louise.
The first and second volume have no sub-title; the first deals largely with the history and archaeology of Austria, and in particular with its rulers, while the second volume deals largely with the topography, with detailed maps and fine views, including many of Vienna and other towns. The third volume has the sub-title "Précis historique de la Guerre", that is, the Franco-Austrian War of 1809 (War of the 5th Coalition, between Napoleon and Bavaria on one side and the Austrian Empire and Great Britain on the other). It contains many fine (battle) maps, views and scenes. In the few descriptions of this work, sometimes a map is listed as a plate, but the combined total of plates and maps should be 119 as in this set. In addition to plates and maps, this work is embellished with fine, large head- and tailpieces, illustrating towns, buildings, and antiquities.
Inscribed on the first front free endpaper, "de la part de l'auteur". Boards rubbed at edges, a few skilful repairs; scattered, mostly light and marginal foxing; one partly coloured map in Part 3 toned; short, marginal tear in one plate; otherwise in very good condition, with the printing strong and the hand-colouring detailed and accurate. Only five complete copies in auction records since WWII.
Nebehay/Wagner II, 348 & 349. Brunet III, 713f. Graesse IV, 58. Querard IV, 344. Vicaire IV, 752. UCBA II, 1065. Mayer coll. 271 (only the normal edition).