Paris, Ernest Bourdin, 1840.
Large 8vo [255 x 163 mm] of (2) ll., vii pp. (preface), viii pp. (dedication), 621 pp., (3) and 25 plates.
Some slight foxing on few pages. Bound in full red shagreen, blind-stamped border on the covers and wide baroque style composition including foliage, spine ribbed decorated with gilt baroque patterns, gilt edges. Contemporary binding.
First edition of this work in which Demidoff relates his travel in Russia and Crimea in 1837.
Atabey 337; not in Blackmer; Brunet, II, 583.
“This is the first part of Demidov’s account of his mission in Russia and the Crimea, an account of the voyage itself. The scientific observations by Huot, Leveille, Rousseau and Nordmann were published in three volumes in 1842, together with an atlas of natural history plates.” (Atabey)
Very few copies contain a dedication to ‘his Majesty the Emperor of all Russias” in viii pp. bound at the beginning of the volume, and the present copy is one of them.
The rich illustration consists of the portrait of Nicolas Ist engraved by Piaud after Raffet and 24 engraved plates out of pagination, printed on Chinese paper and mounted on large-paper, including one musical plate.
In 1837-1838, Demidoff organised a scientific expedition in South Russia and Crimea, for which he entrusted the scientific direction to Frédéric Le Play. It was composed of 22 French scholars, writers and artists, including Auguste Raffet and the critic Jules Janin. The expedition also included Jean-Jacques Nicolas Huot (geologist), Louis Rousseau (naturalist assistant at the National History Museum), Léon Lalanne (engineer of Bridges and Roads), Henri Malinvaud, the drawer Raffet, and the count of Saint-Aldegonde, who accompanied Le Play in its prospective crossing of the Donetz basin. The presence of the latter, a polytechnician, and officer of the French artillery in the service of the Crown, further highlights a particularity rightly noted by A. Savoye: the tripartite sponsorship of the expedition.
Indeed, this first includes Demidoff, initiator and director of the trip, then, implicitly, the French administrations of the Corps des Mines et des Ponts without the approval of which the officials of these corps could not have been part of the trip and lastly, the Russian authorities who, in addition to the official authorization to prospect, provide him with an ongoing logistical support. One can note that, for their part, the French intelligence services took an interest in this trip.In any case, in the circumstances and at the time that we do not know, the reports of Le Play and Saint-Aldegonde relating to the prospecting of the Donetz basin were transmitted to them; the result of this expedition was published under the title Voyage dans la Russie méridionale et la Crimée with a hundred original lithographs by Raffet. The Tsar, dedicatee of the work, showed irritation against the fact that most of the members of the expedition were French.Demidoff wanted to fight certain received ideas of the French against Russia. Nevertheless, these accounts annoyed Tsar Nicholas Ist with their description of the Russian feudal system.
Beautiful copy, complete with the preface, the dedication and the often missing musical plate “Marche Valaque”, of this interesting travel account, preserved in its contemporary Romantic binding in a richly decorated red shagreen.