[GIGAULT DE LA SALLE, Achille Etienne (1772-1855)]. Voyage Pittoresque en Sicile. Paris: P. Didot, l'Aine, & Jules Didot Ainé, 1822-1826.

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[GIGAULT DE LA SALLE, Achille Etienne (1772-1855)]. Voyage Pittoresque en Sicile. Paris: P. Didot, l'Aine, & Jules Didot Ainé, 1822-1826.


2 volumes. Folio (26 4/8 x 19 4/8 inches). Half-titles, dedication leaf (without subscriber's list, half-title of volume II creased). With two engraved maps of Sicily, both political and physical, by and after Orgiazzi, and 92 SPECTACULAR aquatint views by Bennet, C. Bentley, Egerton, N. Fielding, Thales Fielding, Theodore Fielding, Havell, F. Hegui, S. Himely, P. Le Grand, G. Reeve, F. Salathe, C. Soulier, and Sutherland after S. Birmann fils, Boisellier, Bonington, Brune, Cassas, Castellan, Catel, Cockerell, Coignet, Deroi, C. Fielding, Thales Fielding, Theodore Fielding, comte de Forbin, C. Frommel, Gassies, Gau, F. Hegui, Huber, Joly, Lesaint, G. Lory, Maxi de Meuron, Michalon, Moritz, Perin, le comte de Pourtales-Gorgier, Remond, Renou, Renoux, Robson, Ronmy, Salathe, le comte Turpin de Crisse, Vauzelle, le chevalier de Veze, and Villeneuve, plate 63 signed by Newton Fielding, all but one with exceptionally fine recent colour (one or two plates with separations at the plate-mark), each with one or two pages of descriptive text. Contemporary tan cloth backed marbled paper boards, gilt-lettered spine labels (a bit worn at the extremities with minor loss).

Provenance: with the contemporary ownership inscription of H.M. Signet Library of the Society of Writers on each paste-down covered by their later bookplate.

AN EXCEPTIONALLY FINE, LARGE PAPER COPY OF THIS RARE BOOK WITH MAGNIFICENT HAND-COLORED VIEWS OF SICILY, a large and untrimmed copy. One of only 500 copies printed in all, originally published in 24 parts, this example includes the very rare second physical map of Sicily, not called for in the printed plate list but present here as well as in the Abbey copy and the dedication copy. 

The SUPERB plates are mostly the work of an unusually large number of English engravers who are responsible for 43 of the 92 plates, which bring to life the extraordinary beauty of the largest island in the Mediterranean separated from the Italian mainland by the Strait of Messina, and include dramatic images of the northern chain of mountains, from Messina to Marsala; the undulating plain that stretches to the Ionian and Mediterranean Seas; the majestic volcano Etna, the rich pastures, vineyards, gardens, arable lands, and forests of her slopes; the river Giarretta that falls into the sea near Catania, and the Anopo, that empties into the sea near Syracuse; the two principal lakes of Lentini and Pergusa; the important and ancient harbours of Messina and Palermo.

Sicily has a long and ancient history, but at the time of the publication of this book the island was a destination for the European on the Grand Tour, as it emerged from a period of political instability: "in 1713, by the Peace of Utrecht, Victor Amadeus II was made King of Sicily, and the Sicilians were contented with independence. But in 1718 war broke out again; Victor Amadeus had to abandon Sicily and Sardinia, and the former was given to Austria. In 1736 it was again united to Naples. The reign of the Bourbons was certainly advantageous to the island. During the Parthenopean Republic (1798), and the reign of Joseph Bonaparte and Murat (1806-15), Sicily was the asylum of the royal family, and was protected by the British fleet. At that time (1812) the island had a Constitution like the English Constitution. But, on being restored to the Throne of Naples, Ferdinand IV revoked the Constitution, which indeed had not been very acceptable to the people; he also put an end to the Parliament and all the laws and privileges of the Sicilians, and the island was thus put on the same footing as all the other provinces of the kingdom (Organic Laws of 1817). This caused great discontent in Sicily.

"When the Revolution of 1820 broke out at Naples, the Sicilians expected to obtain their independence; they received an evasive answer which diminished their hopes. General Florestano Pepe, sent into Sicily by the Neapolitan Parliament, was at first excluded from Palermo, but later welcomed, when he had given promises regarding their independence. These promises were not confirmed by the Parliament, which, to punish Palermo, declared Messina the capital of the island; widespread disorders followed, which made it easy for 12,000 Austrians to re-establish the authority of Ferdinand I in the island" (Catholic Encyclopedia online). Brunet V-1379 - Graesse VI-2e. Catalogued by Kate Hunter