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An invaluable record of late 18th-century French garden design, beautifully illustrated

LABORDE, Alexandre de.
Description des nouveaux jardins de la France et de ses anciens chateaux ... | Description of the modern gardens and ancient castles in France. |  Beschreibung der neuen Gärten und alten Schlösser in Frankreich.
Paris, Delance, 1808[-1814]. Large folio (50.5 x 35.5 cm). With engraved title-page, engraved map of Northern France, 2 engraved plans, 130 engraved plates with views of gardens on 91 leaves (numbered 1-122 and A-H), and one engraved plate with geological figures. With text in French, English and German. Contemporary green half morocco, gold-tooled spine.
€ 12,500
First edition of a beautifully illustrated work containing descriptions and depictions of 29 French castles and their gardens built in the years just before the Revolution, followed by a more practical consideration of making a picturesque garden. It "is an invaluable record of each of the gardens illustrated, and of a type of garden design that has all but disappeared" (Millard).
The work was composed by the writer Alexandere de Laborde (1773-1842), son of a prominent banker, after his illustrator Constant Bourgeois began to sketch views of Laborde's estate at Méréville and its surrounding area. Laborde's "…melancholic nostalgia and love of nature belong to the last Rousseauian decades before the end of the ancient regime, … However, his method is that of post-Revolutionary interest in social and natural conditions. His essay is related to the tendency to discuss social, chronological, and regional backgrounds, and to emphasize regional differences of style" (Millard).
Owner's inscription on title-page, half-title foxed and with a few small tears along the edges, and a few occasional spots throughout. A very good copy with wide margins. Binding slightly rubbed along the extremities and the spine (especially at the head and foot), but still good.
BAL 1709; Berlin Kat. 3479; Ganay 165; Johnston 731; Millard I, 84 (pp. 221-223); cf. Springer, p. 80.
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Related Subjects:

Art & architecture  >  Architecture & Gardens
Europe  >  France, Greece & Italy
Natural history  >  Botany & Horticulture