A perfect copy of the original edition

Prisse d'Avennes, Achille Constant Théodore Émile. L'Art Arabe d'après les monuments du Kaire depuis le VIIe siècle jusqu'la fin du XVIIIe.

Paris, Morel, [1869-]1877.

1 volume of text (4to) and 3 vols. of plates (large folio). Text: 1 bl. f., title leaf, viii, 296 pp., 1 bl. f. With 34 lithogr. plates (all with tissue guards) and 73 text illustrations. Half morocco with giltstamped title to gilt spine. Spine rebacked. Plate volumes all with half title, title, list of contents and a total of 200 engraved plates (130 of which are chromolithographs and 48 tinted lithographs). Plate volumes bound uniformly with text volume in giltstamped half morocco with cloth covers.


Very scarce first edition of this splendid, unsurpassed standard work on Islamic art. Prisse d'Avennes spent many years in Egypt after 1826, first as an engineer in the service of Mehmet Ali. After 1836 he explored Egypt disguised as an Arab and using the name Edris Effendi; during this period he carried out archaeological excavations in the valley of the Nile. In 1860, Prisse d'Avennes returned to France with a wealth of documentation and drawings, which he subsequently had reproduced by specially trained draughtsmen and published in this monumental set. "'Arab Art', however, is more than a monument to the author's tenacity, skill, and devotion. For the historian of architecture, it is a precise source, a unique documentary record [...] On an entirely different level, Prisse d'Avennes has provided today's architects, designers, artists, and illustrators with some of the finest examples of measured drawings, pattern details, and illustrations of selected aspects of the built environment of a medieval Islamic city. But 'Arab Art' is not merely an exercise in architectural description. Prisse d'Avennes writes about and records in the plates art forms ranging from elaborately decorated tiles to carpets and fabrics, to Korans and illuminated manuscripts. His text examines how these objects were made and the way they were used, and describes the value placed on them by contemporary society. The result is that his book offers invaluable glimpses of aspects of Arab life as they were viewed by a sympathetic West European" (preface to the 1963 London edition).

Beautiful, complete set (the last copy sold at auction was incomplete). Text and plates uncommonly clean and in an excellent state of preservation throughout, in contrast to the known copies in libraries and in institutional possession.

Ibrahim-Hilmy II, 138-140.