PRISSE D'AVENNES, Achille Constant Théodore Émile.
l'Art Arabe d'après les monuments du Kaire depuis le VIIe siècle jusqu'la fin du XVIIIe. Paris, Morel, -1877. 4to (text-volume) and large folio (3 plate volumes). Text volume with 34 lithographs (all with tissue guards) and 73 illustrations in text; plate volumes all with half title, title and list of contents, and 200 lithographs in total (130 chromo, 48 tinted and 22 black and white), uncut and on strong paper. Contemporary half morocco (text volume), plate volumes in matching modern bindings with marbled paper sides, spine with raised bands and gilt morocco label.
- Ibrahim-Hilmy II, 138-140; not in Atabey nor Blackmer. Very scarce first edition of this splendid, unsurpassed standard work on Islamic art, Arab art as seen through the numerous monuments in Cairo from the 7th to the end of the 18th century. The French Orientalist Prisse d'Avennes (1807-1879) spent many years in Egypt after 1826, first as an engineer in the service of Mehmet Ali. After 1836 he explored Egypt disguised as an Arab and using the name Edris Effendi; during this period he carried out archaeological excavations in the valley of the Nile. In 1860, Prisse d'Avennes returned to France with a wealth of documentation and drawings, which he subsequently had reproduced by specially trained draughtsmen and published in this monumental set. ''Arab Art', however, is more than a monument to the author's tenacity, skill, and devotion. For the historian of architecture, it is a precise source, a unique documentary record [.] On an entirely different level, Prisse d'Avennes has provided today's architects, designers, artists, and illustrators with some of the finest examples of measured drawings, pattern details, and illustrations of selected aspects of the built environment of a medieval Islamic city. But 'Arab Art' is not merely an exercise in architectural description. Prisse d'Avennes writes about and records in the plates art forms ranging from elaborately decorated tiles to carpets and fabrics, to Korans and illuminated manuscripts. His text examines how these objects were made and the way they were used, and describes the value placed on them by contemporary society. The result is that his book offers invaluable glimpses of aspects of Arab life as they were viewed by a sympathetic West European' (preface to the 1963 London edition). Due to the excellent condition of the present copy, the Taschen Verlag chose this as their model for their forthcoming luxury facsimile, the most sumptuous of a total of eight facsimile editions so far published. Beautiful, complete set with the text and plates uncommonly clean and in an excellent state of preservation throughout, in contrast to the known copies in libraries and in institutional possession. The last copy on the market, sold at Sotheby's, London, in 2008, lacked a plate.
[Bookseller: ASHER Rare Books]