Auctions | February 15, 2013

A Magnificent Collection of Travel & Illustrated Books at Sotheby’s

On 28th February 2013, Sotheby’s London will present for auction a superb private collection of Fine Travel and Plate Books comprising some of the most magnificent illustrated travel books on the grandest scale together with watercolours and manuscripts — some of which are unique and contain previously unpublished material — the 142 lots are expected to raise in excess of £1.5 million.

Assembled by a private collector who sought the best examples of travel and plate books in a variety of media including hand coloured prints, photography, watercolour and sketches - the collection contains a number of works that come from notable collections including 21 lots from Beriah Botfield’s library (Longleat) - one of the greatest book collectors of the 19th century - and 49 from the collection of ?efik Atabey - who formed one of the largest libraries on the Ottoman Empire*.

Richard Fattorini, Director, Specialist Sotheby’s Department of Books and Manuscripts said,“This auction represents a wonderful opportunity to acquire some of the very best books in this field, since collections of this quality so rarely come to the market. Not only are there works regarded as the most desirable in their field, by the most historically significant artists and writers, but many are also magnificently bound, in superb condition and in many cases have significant provenances.”

India & Sri Lanka


Oriental Scenery,London, 1795-1807

Est. £150,000-£250,000

“The finest illustrated work ever published on India” (Tooley)

Of the spectacular range of books relating to India, a notable highlight is a rare, complete copy of Daniell’s Oriental Scenery, the greatest book of hand - coloured views of India ever produced. It was this important publication that was, in large measure, held responsible for the early nineteenth-century fashion for Indian-inspired architecture in England, reflected in the works of Humphry Repton and John Nash. Thomas Daniell and his nephew William spent some nine years from 1785 to 1794 in India making studies, sketches and drawings of the country’s scenery, architecture and antiquities. They then devoted a further thirteen years to publishing their remark ably accurate aquatints. Previously in the library of the Earl of Bradford, the work is estimated at £150,000-£250,000.


Notes, letters, drawings and photographs for Tennent’s history of Ceylon, c. 1838-1855

Est. £30,000-£40,000

The original documents for Tennent’s history of Ceylon, which was to become the most important history of Ceylon during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, are another major auction highlight. This important collection of manuscript notes, correspondence, watercolours and photographs represents the major source for Tennent’s encyclopaedic work of the country which was so successful that it ran to five editions in its first eight months. The photographs are among the earliest taken in Ceylon and show topographical views, tribal objects and portraits of native peoples. From the library of the author, the collection includes much unpublished material.


Voyage dans l’Inde pendant les années 1841-1842-1843, 1845-1846, Paris, 1850

Est. £30,000-£40,000

This enormous book by the Russian traveller, writer and artist Prince Alexis Soltykoff shows views and ceremonial processionsin India, the Himalayas and Sri Lanka in the nineteenth century. An especially fine copy, it shows his drawings at their most spectacular, with the fine tinted lithographed plates reproduced in massive folio format. Prince Alexis Soltykoff (1806-1859) made several journeys in the region between 1841 and 1846 where he produced wonderful drawings of the people, landscapes, processions, hunting scenes and ceremonies.



Egypt, Sinai and Jerusalem: a series of twenty photographic views, c. 1858

Est. £100,000-150,000

“The largest book with the biggest, unenlarged prints ever published...Few publications in the history of photography are its equal in either presentation or ambition.” (Gernsheim)

Thelargest photographs of Egypttaken in the 19th century are presented in Francis Frith’s ambitious work Egypt, Sinai and Jerusalem. The negatives, which measured 16 x 20 inches, were developed on site in the soaring tempera tures of the desert, and the large panels of glass transported through the desert by camels. Of all the photographs Frith produced, the twenty presented here include a panorama of Jerusalem and 19 views of Egypt, accompanied by descriptions composed by the mother and son duo, Sophia and Reginald Stuart Poole.

Description de l’?gypte, Paris 1809-1822

Est. £80,000-£ 120,000

TheDescription de l’Egypte was commissioned by Napoléon following France’s invasion of the country. Comprising 23 volumes of text and 11 large plate volumes, it was the first scientific survey of the region, documenting Egypt’s antiquities, agriculture, language, music, costume and natural history. The numerous plates depicting the antiquities provide a breath-taking record of the richness of the ancient Egyptian culture. The contemporary French armorial bindings with Egyptian motifs were designed by Jean-Joseph Tessier-the leading French binder of the period - and would have cost the enormous sum of 2,150 francs at the time.



Voyage pittoresque de Constantinople et des rives du Bosphore, Paris, 1819

Est. £20,000-£30,000

This is the grandest of all books on Constantinople (modern day Istanbul), comprising the most beautiful collection of engraved views produced of the city and environs. Antoine Melling (1763-1830), having studied architecture and painting, travelled to the Levant at the age of 19, and remained in Constantinople for 18 years. He was charged by the Sultan’s daughter to renovate her palace at Ortakeui in 1795, and was consequently granted access to the Sultan’s palaces. The sketches he made of the palace, including the Harem, are among the earliest interior views. The outstanding success of the exhibitions of his drawings on which this book was based earned Melling the title of "Painter to the Empress Josephine." Previously in the collection of the great bibliophile, ?efik E. Atabey, this copy is in the most desirable state, edge-bound, with the plates unfolded.


Collection of 33 watercolour drawings depicting Turkish costume, Malta c.1840

Est. £4,000-£6,000

Another highlight from the collection of ?efik E. Atabey, and attributed to Charles Frederick de Brocktorff, this collection of 33 watercolours depicts figures from the Ottoman court dressed in ‘contemporary costume’, as opposed to the traditional dress more commonly depicted in similar works. Each drawing is accompanied by a descriptive caption in English.




Tableaux topographiques, pittoresques, physiques, historiques, moraux, politiques, littéraires de la Suisse, Paris, 1780-1786

Est. £30,000-£40,000

Finely bound by the French royal binder, Simier, and previously in the collection of Beriah Botfield at Longleat, a magnificent copy of the most famous collection of views of Switzerland will be offered. The plates depict the natural history of the country, together with its art work, mosaics, city views and portraits of historic personages. The publication is a product of the movement to unite Switzerland’s cantons as a single country, and helped to define a national identity.



Voyage pittoresque et historique de l’Espagne, Paris, 1806-1820

Est. £15,000-£25,000

A fine copy of Laborde’s magnificent work on Spain that was also in the collection of Beriah Botfield at Longleat will also be offered in the sale. As a member of Lucien Bonaparte’s embassy to Spain in 1800-1801, Laborde (1774-1842) was able to follow up his passionate interest in Spanish art and history. With the meticulous work of Choisel-Gouffier on Greece as his model, Laborde spent several years amassing in formation relative to Spanish art, architecture, archaeology and traditions, and aided by a team of highly talented artists assembled a huge portfolio of engravings which are presented here.



Voyage pittoresque en Autriche, Paris, 1821-1822

Est. £18,000-£24,000

A rare hand-coloured, large paper copy of one of the greatest illustrated works on Austria previously in the library of Beriah Botfield at Longleat.




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