Souvenirs d'un Aveugle. Voyage autour du monde. FREYCINET, Jacques ARAGO.
Souvenirs d'un Aveugle. Voyage autour du monde.
Souvenirs d'un Aveugle. Voyage autour du monde.
Souvenirs d'un Aveugle. Voyage autour du monde.

Souvenirs d'un Aveugle. Voyage autour du monde.

Paris: Gayet et Lebrun, 1840.

Four volumes, octavo, with two portrait frontispieces and 60 hand-coloured lithographic plates (six folding); an excellent set aside from moderate scattered foxing and a handful of browned plates resulting from differing paper stocks (as usual), bound in uniform contemporary French quarter calf, flat spines lettered in gilt and decorated in blind. Paris, Gayet et Lebrun, 1840.

The third edition, with all plates in colour and rare thus

An attractive set of the rare third and best edition in which the sixty lithographs appear in handsome original colouring. Although this was one of the most frequently published of all nineteenth-century voyage accounts, this is the only edition in which the plates appear in this coloured form. Seldom seen on the market, this should be ranked as one of the rarest and most prized Pacific or Australian colour-plate books.

An attractive set of the rare third and best edition in which the sixty lithographs appear in handsome original colouring. Although this was one of the most frequently published of all nineteenth-century voyage accounts, this is the only edition in which the plates appear in this coloured form. Seldom seen on the market, this should be ranked as one of the rarest and most prized Pacific or Australian colour-plate books.

This is the French artist's classic account of his circumnavigation in the Uranie under the command of Louis de Freycinet. Occasionally sets of this edition have a fifth supplementary volume entitled "Chasses - Drame", but since the 15 plates in that volume were issued without colouring, and in fact it was produced by a quite different publisher, it is only rarely added to a set, and was not described by either of the careful bibliographers Ferguson (on Australia) or Forbes (on Hawaii).

The lively and personal narrative by the expedition's eccentric artist is especially interesting for Western Australia, New South Wales, Hawaii and the islands of Micronesia. The eccentricity of both illustrations and narrative in Arago's account when first published (as Promenade autour du monde) made it very popular, and it was of course within the budget of the normal reader (whereas Freycinet's official narrative in its long series of volumes cost about a hundred times more, much as it does today).

By the time this substantially different version of his book reached the public, at first accompanied only by black-and-white illustrations, Arago had lost his sight, hence the new title used for the work of Souvenirs d'un aveugle (Memories of a Blind Man). As noted in the catalogue of the Hill collection of one of the earlier uncoloured issues, this version is often erroneously catalogued as a later edition of Arago's Promenade, when in fact the narrative has been considerably enriched and Arago shows an even more witty and elaborate style, especially with the lively plates.

The lovely handcolouring of this edition means that Arago's wonderful depictions of the Pacific are here given full rein. Volume III of this work is almost entirely devoted to Hawaii, with portraits of Young, and Queen Kanoé, alongside many other scenes: the elaborate and colourful headgear and dress of the Hawaiian warriors is especially beautiful.

Of equal interest is the large section of the book devoted to Australia, with no less than five plates depicting Aborigines of New Holland. These include evocative depictions after Péron (artist for the official Baudin voyage account), as well as Arago's own images of, for instance, a duel in New South Wales, a fierce Maori warrior bailed up by a dandy with two flint-lock pistols, and an Aboriginal man climbing a tree - to the amazement of a European in candy-stripe pants.

Ferguson knew only the Mitchell Library copy of the work; Forbes gives a fuller census, but could still list only three more copies (Kahn Collection, Hawaiian Mission Children's Society Library in Honolulu, and private collection).

Ferguson, 2906; Forbes, 'Hawaiian National Bibliography', 1189; Hill, 30 (earlier uncoloured version).

Condition Report: A few pale spots, a few plates on a paper type that has browned; bindings in fine condition, an attractive set.

Price (AUD): $13,250.00

US$9,115.02   Other currencies

Ref: #5000424

Condition Report