Magnificent chromolithographs: one of 200 copies

[Ermitage]. Piccard, Rodolphe / Solntsev, Fedor Grigoryevich. Antiquités du Bosphore Cimmérien conservées au Musée impérial de l'Ermitage. [Drevnosti Bosfora Kimmeriiskago khraniashchiiasia v Imperatorskom muzeie Ermitazha].

St Petersburg, Imprimerie de l'Académie Impériale des Sciences, 1854.

Folio (ca. 380 x 547 mm). 3 vols., including atlas. (22), CLI, (3), 279, (1) pp. (8), 339, (1) pp. Atlas has chromolithographed pictorial title, 48 engraved and 41 chromolithographed plates (numbered I-LXXXVI), 5 engraved plans, and 2 folding engraved maps. Contemporary marbled boards; modern spines with giltstamped labels.


The rare first edition of this monumental work on the antiquities housed at the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, published at the personal expense of Emperor Nicolas I. The Tsar took a deep interest in Russian archaeological finds following the discovery of a Scythian burial mound near Kerch in 1830, and many of these discoveries are featured here.

A large number of the plates are magnificently lithographed in vivid colour after the drawings of Piccard and Solntzev. "Ouvrage imprimé avec une grande luxe. Le texte, en russe et en francais, est précédé d'une préface, signée du nom de M. Gilles, conservateur de l'Ermitage [...] Le nombre des exemplaires tirés n'est, dit-on, que de 200. Leur prix à Paris est de 400 fr." (Brunet).

The Swiss painter and engraver Piccard (1807-88) had studied in Paris and was active in Lausanne until the end of the 1830s. Long in Russia, he would return to Lausanne in 1869. Solntsev (1801-92) had already completed the massive six-volume album series "Antiquities of the Russian State" (1849-1853) and was one of the principal interior decorators of the Kremlin Palace.

Some foxing throughout, mainly concerning the margins and the first and last quires of the text volumes, but to some extent also the margins of the plates. Bindings professionally repaired. Removed from the Library of the Birmingham Assay Office, one of the four assay offices in the United Kingdom, with their inconspicuous library stamp to the flyleaves. Extremely rare: we can trace only one other copy at auction (2013, Sotheby's Paris, sale 1333, lot 532: EUR 59,100 - the duc de Luynes copy).


Brunet I, 321. Graesse I, 149f. Thieme/Becker XXVI, 579. OCLC 82476426.