GRASSET DE SAINT-SAUVEUR, Jacques Les Fastes du Peuple Français.


"Les Fastes du Peuple Français" de Grasset de Saint-Sauveur
Rare collection of aquatints dedicated to the feats of arms of the French citizens under the Consulate entirely contemporary heightened by hand with colors.

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[Paris, n.n., 1798-1801].

4to [251 x 191 mm] composed of an engraved frontispiece, 15 numbered plates (out of 16) and of (9) ll. of explanatory text (out of 16). Bound in full red morocco, triple gilt fillet on the covers, spine ribbed finely decorated, large inner gilt border made of a vegetal pattern and gilt fillets, untrimmed. Bound during the second half of the 19th century, signed by Riviere & Son.


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Rare collection of engravings concerning the edifying actions led by the French people under the Consulate, composed as a supplement to the « Fastes du Peuple Français » published two years earlier. Cohen, Guide de l’amateur de livres à gravures du XVIIIe siècle, 452; Colas, Bibliographie générale du Costume et de la Mode, n°1300; Sander, Illustrierten franz ö sischen Bücher des 18, 844.

“At the end of some copies [of the ‘Fastes’…] we find, under the same title, a set of 16 numbered plates, concerning the events of the years VII to IX, and with their text leaves. At Sardou’s (II. ii. 774) and Glaser’s sale, this set was presented alone (without plate 16), with a special frontispiece.” (Cohen, 452).

“Finally, some copies have a supplement with the same title printed without date made of: 1 ll. (engraved frontispiece representing the triumph of Bonaparte by Desrais), 16 ll. unnumb. (text coming with plates), 16 plates out of pagination engraved in aquatint and colored numbered from 1 to 16. The plates of this supplement represent the famous facts of the year VIII and the year IX”. Colas, n°1300.

Les Fastes du Peuple Français were initially published by Deroy, in 1796. Plates were engraved under the supervision of Grasset de Saint-Sauveur, according to Labrousse’s drawings. This publication was answering and order from the National Convention who was willing to publish books dedicated to the public instruction. It is a praise of the bravery, dedication and the humanity of the French people.

« [Grasset de Saint-Sauveur] publishes a text of which the only title testifies his republican  fervour: ‘Faste du peuple français ou tableaux raisonnés des principales actions héroïques et civiques du soldat et citoyen français’. Grasset presents this book as a manual which can be used to the national education and as a historical work  immortalizing the French heroes by showing the superiority of this people compared to the other European nations. Grasset intensifies the national and republican fervour”. (B. J. Andrès, M.-A. Bernier, Portrait des arts, des lettres et de l’éloquence au Québec, p. 113).

This set forms a hymn to the national feeling celebrated through the moral virtues and physical courage of modest or famous individuals of the Revolution and the Consulate.

“Here is what Grasset promises: ‘I will write little, but I will paint; not only the beautiful feats of arms that I will report will be read, we will see them and I want my readers to be the witnesses of the action I will save from the forgetting. […] It will be the living image of the harmed hero, or killed or disfigured. His family won’t be fooled. His mother, his friend, his spouse will say: ʽHere he comes! Yes, it is him! What an honorable injury! How interesting he is with an arm, a leg or an eye missin!’ ” Beth S. Wright. « L’éducation par les yeux » : texte et image à la fin du XVIIIe siècle. p. 166.

This set is composed of a frontispiece depicting the triumphing welcoming of Napoleon Bonaparte in the Olympus and of 15 numbered aquatints representing the edifying actions:

  • Courage et sang-froid D’Alexis, Grenadier,
  • Trait héroïque d’un jeune conscrit,
  • Mousquetons d’Honneur donnés par le 1er Consul,
  • Courage de Capitaine de marine Lesaux,
  • Générosité du citoyen Loriston,
  • Action de Mérole,
  • Générosité de Catherine Foy,
  • Courage de l’Equipage du Brick l’Anacréon,
  • Piété filial du jeune Locquet,
  • Trait généreux du citoyen L’Epine,
  • Dévouement de citoyen Dufossé, Papillon et Dartin,
  • Courage de Jacques Cougot,
  • Courage et humanité du Capitaine Soyer,
  • Dévouement fraternel du brave Aubry,
  • Humanité et sensibilité des Militaires au Bivouac.

Besides, the set of aquatints printed in colors has been contemporary heightened by hand in color. Nine of the fifteen aquatints are presented with an explanatory text by Grasset de Saint-Sauveur recounting the history of the illustrated characters.

A precious untrimmed copy of this rare set of engraving illustrating the heroic actions of the French people under the Consulate, composed of 16 aquatints printed in colors and contemporary heightened by hand in color.

Provenance: ex libris of Sir David Lionel Goldsmid-Stern-Salomons. Bart. of  Broomhill. Tunbridge Wells

Our researches allowed us to locate only one copy among the international public institutions: at the Fonds Ancien de la Bibliothèque de Toulouse.

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