Suisse, Editions Facsimilé Lucerne, 1996.
Large folio [430 x 300 mm] of (3) ll., 96 ll. numbered by hand, (5) ll., 84 large miniatures in the text. (With: Commentary volume by François Avril, Marie-Thérèse Gousset, Jacques Monfrin, Jean Richard, Marie-Hélène Tesnière: 4to of 506, (1) pp. Bound in light-brown half-calf.) Bound in full light-brown calf, triple gilt fillet on covers, large gilt arms stamped in the centre, spine ribbed and decorated with a crowned initial in the panels, red morocco lettering piece, inner gilt border, edges gilt.
« This facsimile is the identical reproduction of the first part of the illuminated manuscript kept under the reference ms.fr.2810 at the French National Library in Paris. This work was published in a unique limited edition of 980 copies numbered in Arabic numbers and intended for sale all over the world. This volume has been hand-sewed, bound in calf; gilt stamped and put in a box hung with China silk. »
« In 1295, Marco Polo came back to Venice after a 24 years journey that led him, his father Nicolo and his uncle Maffeo, throughout Central Asia up to China (“Catay”) and Beijing (“Chambalech”). Three years later, in 1298, he dictated in French the account of his travels, ‘Le Devisement du monde’ which is also know under various names, ‘Le Livre des merveilles’, ‘Il Milione’… Even if the original text is lost, about 150 ancient manuscripts exist, translated into every language, including a version by Ramusio which relaunched in the XXth century studies about Marco Polo.
Marco Polo tells what he saw or heard; he gives anecdotes and emphasises on everyday life, religions and the battles of the people he visited. He notes the economic activities, describes the fauna and flora, the cities of the countries he crossed… ‘Le Devisement du monde’ resumes the two trips made by the Polos, in 1260, without Marco, then in 1271, with him and is divided into three books : the itinerary through the Middle East, Asia Minor and Central Asia towards the Catay; the journey in Catay’s Empire; the itinerary by sea from south-east Asia then through India up to Asia Minor. Throughout the account, Marco Polo shows a documentary precision that doesn’t exclude sometimes naivety; observation qualities that no one would suspect from a man of his time, and that may explain why Marco Polo’s contemporaries first believed he was being imaginative.
The ‘Book of the Marvels of the World’ was, with the “Imago Mundi” by Pierre d’Ailly, one of Christopher Columbus’ reference books. » (Virtual exhibition Le Ciel et la Terre, French National Library).
The splendid illustration is composed of 84 miniatures enhanced with gold, including one full-page, which support the account of Marco Polo’s travels to Asia.