Commentary of the Marengo Battle, won on twenty-five Prairial, year 8 by Napoleon Bonaparte, First Consul, commander in ...
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Full red morocco with long grain, smooth back ornamented with vats and florets alternated with large golden friezes, golden title, the sides lavishly adorned with 6 successive Greek friezes; ornamental lace, garlands, golden decorative rolls and small chains, Great Imperial crest at the center, golden decorative rolls on the cuts and squares, inner border with gilded garland, all-gilded edges, lining and blue tabis endpapers, ex libris in red sheepskin leather at the top corner, 2 sheets of endpapers at the beginning and the end of the book, (superb vintage period binding). Splendid copy with small defects (rubbed grooves and caps, slightly stamped back gilding, small wear on the corners, restoration marks.) Rare original edition with an in-plano format, limited edition, printed on Holland, beautifully illustrated with 8 plates engraved on copper by Charles Piquet, engraver and geographer. Intended for the Imperial propaganda, this piece was printed with a careful deluxe typography, including 2 maps and 4 very spectacular double page spread with color highlights, recounting the troop movements to Italy during Year 8. PRECIOUS BOOK WITH GREAT IMPERIAL CRESTS Superb red morocco binding that can be attributed for this period to Charles-Pierre Bizouard, Josephine de Beauharnais’s official bookbinder, who cared for the books from the Bibliothèque de la Malmaison, and Bozerian—well known for the delicacy and unique style of his decorative binding irons. Great Imperial crests, O.H.R. 2652, iron n°10. There are 3 printed editions of this book; the first one with a large in-plano format featuring a luxurious red binding, intended for the highest dignitaries of the Empire and for Napoleon’s relatives, and 2 other more common ones, with an in-quarto format bound in green morocco and one in a smaller in-8 format, offered to the generals and officials of the Imperial Régime. It is recognized that only about twenty pieces of this princeps edition were printed. Among the prestigious collections, we can identify the copy belonging to Marshal Suchet (Bibliothèque du Maréchal Berthier), the copy belonging to the Duc de Plaisance (quoted by Brunet) and the one belonging to Napoléon’s Minister of the Navy, Admiral Decrès (Collection Souham). It was published at the same time [as the edition in-4°], a large format edition in-folio with framing around the pages, which was apparently printed in only twenty-five copies. 110fr, red morocco, lace, the Duc de Plaisance [Charles-Francois Lebrun’s sale, Duc de Plaisance, Third Consul and Prince arch-treasurer of the First Empire]. EDITORIAL MONUMENT ORDERED BY BONAPARTE... GLORIFIED AND APPROVED UNDER THE EMPIRE After passing the Grand Saint-Bernard, the battle of Marengo which took place from the 12th to the 14th of June 1800 near Alexandrie marks the first milestone of the Napoleonian epic. Yet, no victory has been so close to a defeat, the in extremis intervention of General Desaix, having enabled to win the advantage and triumph over the Austrians. The course of the battle was very briefly, but admirably described in the official bulletin of the Moniteur, dated from the 22nd of June. However, Bonaparte took special care to glorify this campaign in order to legitimize and strengthen his military authority and his political action in a country still weakened by the Revolution. He entrusts to Berthier, his Chief of Staff and War Minister, the task of writing a Battle Commentary; the map layout was established under the direction of General Sanson, Director of the War Depository, and General de Castres, who pinpointed the military positions, whereas the accompanying text, supervised by Berthier, was written by Colonel Vallongue, Deputy Director of the Depsitory. This commissioned Commentary required several years of work and was modified many times until the day before the proclamation of the Empire; the tactical errors were concealed, the retreat movements minimized, as well as the actions of Lannes and Kellermann, but the actions of the consular guards were, on the contrary, highlighted. This military epic is presented to the advantage of Napoleon, the brilliant strategist, without forgetting Desaix, his loyal executor and hero, fallen in full glory on the battlefield. Napoleon, to be crowned King of Italy, having decided to go through Marengo was addressed by Berthier on the battlefield a version with the dedication sheet and ten maps. “But Napoleon I considered that the work was not yet representative enough of the infallible general he wished to embody; he asked General Sanson to make sure all the copies were destroyed along with the preparatory documents and the sources contradicting its new version. A new and last draft was prepared directly in Berthier’s cabinet, with boards that were progressively submitted to the Emperor. The final version was chosen only after Austerlitz and illustrated with 4 of the 6 or 8 remaining maps. PROVENANCE. Bibliothèque du Comte d’Orsay, acquired in 1823; with handwritten mention on the front endcover; work originating from the Library of Emperor Napoleon. Sold in Sainte-Hélène, bought by Bos- sange and resold to the Comte d’Orsay. Works originating directly from the Emperor’s library in Saint-Hélène are very rare. Although our copy is not marked with the distinct stamp of the Longwood Library, it was nonetheless spotted by bookseller Bossange, who took was in charge of selling the works originating from the Library of Sainte-Hélène. When Napoleon died in 1821, his Library in Longwood comprised around 3,500 books. These were broken in two categories: on the one hand, the books shipped to France in 1815, originating from imperial legacies, mainly from the Bibliothèque de Trianon and on the other hand, books acquired afterwards and sent to England between 1816 and 1821. A small part of the library collection was auctioned at Longwood in 1822, a year after Napoleon’s death. At the time, the English government entrusted most of the remaining works to French bookseller Martin Bos- sange, who had a branch in London, and who established the catalogue in 1823. The unsold books from the catalogue were entrusted to Sotheby’s the same year. (cf. Guillois, Les Bibliothèques particulières de l’Empereur Napoléon, 1900. & Advielle, La Bibliothèque de Napoléon à Sainte-Hélène, 1894). Former page at the court of Napoleon, Alfred d’Orsay (1801-1852), was one the main financial backers and friend of Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte, especially during his failed attempt of Boulogne and after his escape from Fort Ham, by welcoming him when he went into exile in London. The Comte d’Orsay was known for his dandism, living between London and Paris and interacting with the social elite of the time, Thomas Lawrence, Disraeli, Dickens, Byron, Vigny, Lamartine, George Sand... and Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte. A race horse enthusiast, perfume creator, recognized painter and sculptor, the Comte d’Orsay, married the daughter of a rich heir but lived with his mother-in-law, Lady Blessington. Ex-libris from the Library Temple de Rougemont (cf. Imperial Provenances, Bibliothèque du Général et de la Comtesse du Temple de Rougemont, 2006. – Referenced copy during Berthier’s Archives sales from the 15th of November 2015 at the Osenat & Sotheby’s auction houses.) Alexandre BERTHIER, prince de Wagram et de Neuchâtel, maréchal de France. Relation de la bataille de Marengo, gagnée le vingt-cinq Prairial an 8, Par Napoléon Bonaparte, 1er Consul, commandant en personne l’Armée française de réserve, sur les Autrichiens aux ordres du Lieutenant-général Mélas ; rédigée Par le Général Alex.dre Berthier Ministre de la Guerre, commandant sous les ordres immédiats du 1er Consul ; et accompagnée de plans indicatifs des différens mouvemens des troupes, levés géométriquement par les ingénieurs géographes du Dépôts général de la Guerre, sous la direction du Général Sanson, inspecteur du Génie. A Paris, Au Dépôt Général de la Guerre, an XII. [1804 (édité en 1806)]. In-plano, titre gravé avec encadrement étoilé [gravé par Ch. Picquet], 1 f° de dédicace avec encadrement étoilé [A l’Empereur, rédigée par Berthier sur le champ de Marengo le 23 Prairial an 13, anniversaire de la Bataille], -1 f° avec encadrement étoilé [Situation de l’Armée de réserve], 17 pages de texte toutes imprimées avec encadrement étoilé gravé sur cuivre et 1 page en blanc, 2 grandes Cartes générales de la campagne à double page en deux états, gravées avec légendes, la première représentant les territoires du Nord de l’Italie aquarellés au lavis ; la seconde en noir avec rehauts de couleurs à la main ; 4 planches à double page de la bataille de Marengo, chiffrées I-IV, avec rehauts en couleurs figurant la position des différents corps de troupes avec leurs mouvements et les tirs d’artillerie. Plein maroquin rouge à grains longs, dos lisse orné de vasques et fleurons alternés de larges frises dorées, avec titre doré, les plats richement ornés de 6 encadrements successifs de frise à la grecque, dentelles ornées, guirlandes, roulettes et chainettes dorées, grandes armoiries impériales aux centres, roulette dorée sur les coupes et chasses, bordure intérieure avec guirlande dorée, toutes tranches dorées, doublure et gardes de tabis bleu, ex-libris de basane rouge au coin sup., 2 feuillets de gardes en début et fin d’ouvrage (reliure de l’époque). Splendide exemplaire comportant de menus défauts (mors et coiffes frottés, dorures du dos légèrement estampées, petites usures aux coins, traces de restauration).