The book that changed Europe

Picart, Bernard. Histoire générale des cérémonies, moeurs, et coutumes religieuses de tous les peuples du monde.

Paris, Rollin fils, 1741.

Folio (305 x 455 mm). 7 vols. All title pages printed in red and black. With engr. frontispiece, 7 engr. title vignettes, numerous engr. head- and tailpieces and initials, and 243 plates. Contemporary half calf; spine elaborated gilt with double giltstamped red labels.


A perfectly preserved tall paper copy of this beautifully illustrated ethnographic work on the world's religions. Despite condemnation by the Catholic church, the publication was a resounding success. "'Ceremonies and customs' prepared the ground for religious toleration amid seemingly unending religious conflict, and demonstrated the impact of the global on Western consciousness [...] as it shaped the development of a modern, secular understanding of religion" (Hunt).

Based on the author's "Cérémonies et coutumes religieuses de tous les peuples du monde" (Amsterdam, 1723-1743), the text is corrected (and sometimes entirely revised) from the original edition. The plates are mostly repeated from the Dutch publication, but the vignettes are engraved in Paris (by Duflos and others). Also contains descriptions of irreligious customs, such as the Adamites, Flagellants, etc.

Bindings a little rubbed, a bit browned in places, otherwise an excellent and unusually wide-margined complete copy in uniform bindings with elaborately gilt spines.


Brunet I, 1743. Graesse II, 104. Cf. L. Hunt, The Book That Changed Europe: Picart & Bernard's Religious Ceremonies Of The World (Harvard UP, 2010). Lipperheide Oc 24. Hiler 708. Cohen/R. 134. Sander 1548. Lewine 414.

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