LE BLANC, Jean-Bernard Lettres de Monsieur l’Abbé Le Blanc, historiographe des bastimens du roi (sur les anglais).

Price : 14.000,00 

Portrayal of the English customs of the 18th century by the protégé of Mme de Pompadour

The first food critic aimed at the English by a French « Des plaisirs de la table chez les anglais… ». The copy finely bound for Madame de Pompadour, the patroness of the author.

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Amsterdam (Paris), 1751.

3 parts in 3 volumes 12mo [165 x 96 mm] of: I/ (1) bl.l., (2) ll., lvi pp. of foreword, 346 pp., (1) l. of erratum, (1) bl.l.; II/ (1) bl.l., (2) ll., 380 pp. (1) bl.l.; III/ (1) bl.l., (2) ll., 412 pp. (1) bl.l. Bound in contemporary red full morocco, large and rich gilt border on the cover, gilt arms stamped in the centre, flat spine decorated with gilt fleurons, light-brown morocco lettering-pieces, gilt inner border, gilt edges. Contemporary binding.

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Third French edition, enlarged with a long foreword by the author, with one of the main comparative treatises on economic policy between France and England in the middle of the 18th century and with the first attempt of comparative gastronomy. Cioranescu, II, 37992 ; Quérard, La France littéraire, V, 15.

The letters of Le Blanc written from England to Helvetius, Buffon, Crébillon, Montesquieu, maupertuis … are a very interesting portrayal of the English customs of the 18th century.

This « very esteemed work among men of letters » that had been published for the first time in Paris in 1745 was quickly translated then criticized by the English (edition of London, 1747). The present edition is sought-after for its long foreword of 56 pages added by the author at the beginning of the volume in which he analyzes the various critics of his book made by the English.

These letters aimed at the great French minds of that time offer an interesting comparison of the English and French governments, policies and customs. The author tackles various topics such as literature, theatre, gardens, gastronomy or the tastes of the two people described.

One of the most famous letters is the Lettre XLII « A Monsieur le Marquis du Tenail » entitled « Des plaisirs de la Table chez les Anglais, de leurs Tostes »… This letter is indeed the first food critic aimed by a French Author at English culinary customs.

In the 2nd part, Le Blanc publishes a part of the translation of the Oroonoko tragedy that presents the relations between the English settlers and the black slaves of British Guiana.

« Jean-Bernard Le Blanc (1707-1781) embraced the ecclesiastical state and started a career of letters with a poem ‘Poème sur les gens de lettres de Bourgogne’. Then he came to Paris, found patrons, and published ‘Elégies, avec un discours sur ce genre de poésie’ (Paris, 1751). Father Le Blanc travelled to England and published on his return: ‘Lettres d’un Français sur les Anglais’ (Paris, 1745, 3 vol. 12mo). This work reprinted in 1749, 1751 and 1758 mainly contributed to the author’s reputation […]. Although he was a member of the academia della Crusca and des Arcades de Rome, of the Institut of Bologna and honorary member of the Société des sciences et des arts de Dijon, father Le Blanc applied during thirty years, without being able to obtain it and without being put off, for a place at the French Academy. In order to compensate, Madame de Pompadour restored in his favour the post of historiographer of the bâtiments du Roi, abolished by the controller-general Orry. He enjoyed it until his death, in 1781. » (Biographie Universelle, pp. 483-484)

« The work that contributed the most to his reputation is his ‘Lettres sur les anglais’, 1758, 3 vol. 12mo. We find in it relevant things, healthy judgments, sensible thoughts. » (Les siècles littéraires de la France, p. 265)

A precious copy finely contemporary bound in red morocco with the arms of Madame de Pompadour (1721-1764). This provenance gives a peculiar interest to this copy since we know that Madame de Pompadour was the patroness of father Le blanc and that she is the one that restored for him the post of historiographer of the Bâtiments du Roi that he held until his death.

Provenance: Marquise de Pompadour (bound with her arms) and Institutionis DD. Bernard et Auger with ex libris.

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LE BLANC, Jean-Bernard


Amsterdam (Paris), 1751.