BAILLY, Jean-Sylvain. Histoire de l’astronomie ancienne, jusqu’à l’établissement de l’école d’Alexandrie.

Price : 9.500,00 

Rare complete set of this important 18th century history of astronomy.

All five volumes are illustrated with 21 plates.

1 in stock

Histoire de l’astronomie ancienne, jusqu’à l’établissement de l’école d’Alexandrie.

Paris, De Bure, 1781.

4to, xxiv pp., 527 pp. 3 plates.

* Histoire de l’astronomie moderne depuis la fondation de l’école d’Alexandrie, jusqu’à l’époque de M.D.CC.XXX.

Paris, De Bure, 1785.

3 volumes 4to, xvi pp., 728 pp., 13 plates; II/ (2) ll., 751 pp., 5 plates; III/ (2) ll., 415 pp.

* Traité de l’astronomie indienne et orientale. Ouvrage qui peut servir de suite à l’Histoire de l’Astronomie ancienne.

Paris, De Bure, 1787.

4to of (2) ll., clxxx pp., 427 pp.

A set of 5 4to volumes uniformly bound in contemporary marbled calf, gilt border around the covers, ribbed spines richly decorated with flower-shaped tools, red morocco lettering piece, red mottled edges. Contemporary binding.

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Rare complete set in second edition for all the volumes of this “esteemed work” (Brunet).

Lalande p. 544 ; Poggendorff I/89 ; Dorbon n°5399 “Rarely complete with the 5 volumes.” ; DSB I, pp. 400-402 ; Houzeau & Lancaster 22 ; Brunet, I, 615 “Esteemed work. The Indian astronomy is rare”.

“‘The ‘Indian astronomy’ is rare, and worth by itself 15 to 18 fr. ‘L’astronomie ancienne’ first appeared in 1775, and ‘l’astronomie moderne’, from 1779 to 1782;but we prefer the second edition, because it contains augmentations.” (Brunet).

The Histoire de l’astronomie was considered by Bailly’s contemporaries to be both a scientific and a literary work, and it was this that opened the doors to the Académie française for him, thanks to his friend Buffon and despite d’Alembert’s opposition, even though he had already been a member of the Académie des sciences since 1763.

He was appointed mayor of Paris on July 15, 1789. Arrested in 1793, he was called to testify at Marie-Antoinette’s trial, but testified on her behalf, which led to his downfall. He was guillotined in November 1793.

The success of Bailly’s work lies in the fact that he was also a literary scholar, giving equal weight to narrative and scientific calculation.

A disciple of Lacaille, his research on the satellites of Jupiter is his main scientific achievement.

In Histoire de l’astronomie ancienne, Bailly essentially investigates the origins of astronomy, its progress and the influence it had on different peoples, rejecting the old idea that it was the “daughter” of astrology. It was in fact a prelude to the Histoire de l’astronomie moderne.

An important and enjoyable work, full of learned dissertations, luminous ideas and brilliant paintings” (De Lalande, Bibliographie astronomique).

This work, elegantly written in a brilliant, sometimes animated style, was received with extreme favor” (Michaud, Biographie universelle).

All five volumes are illustrated with 21 plates engraved by P. Cl. de La Gardette: 3 plates for the Histoire de l’astronomie ancienne and 18 for the Histoire de l’astronomie moderne (measurements, plans, instruments, reproductions of zodiac signs).

The present set of 5 volumes in uniform contemporary bindings represents a rare reunion of Bailly’s important works on astronomy.

A superb copy, complete with all the volumes and the 21 plates, preserved in a very elegant uniform contemporary binding with finely decorated spines.

Provenance: copy of Henry de Cessole with handwritten ex-libris, armorial ex-libris A.G. du Plessis and P. de La Morandière.

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BAILLY, Jean-Sylvain.


Paris, De Bure, 1781.