GARNIER, Marie Joseph Francis (1839-1873)
Voyage d'exploration en Indo-Chine effectué pendant les années 1866, 1867 et 1868
Paris: Librarie Hachette, 1873. 4 volumes (text: 2 vols., large 4to [13 1/4 x 9 3/4 inches]; atlas: 2 volumes, folio [19 1/2 x 15 inches]). Text: titles in red and black, half-titles. Portrait frontispiece, 1 plate of medals, 12 maps and charts (4 coloured, 6 tinted), numerous illustrations (39 full-page); atlas: 12 maps, (2 double-page); 9 plans (2 double-page); 1 tinted lithographic aerial view; 48 plates on 40 sheets (6 double page, 2 engraved, 10 hand-coloured lithographs, 1 chromolithograph, 27 tinted lithographs).
Text: contemporary French dark blue morocco-backed marbled paper-covered boards, spines gilt in six compartments with raised bands, lettered in the second, numbered in the third, previous owner's name 'Philastre' tooled in gilt at foot of each spine; atlas: original dark blue cloth-backed pale blue paper-covered boards, letterpress titling to upper covers, longitudinal gilt lettering to the flat spines
Provenance: "Philastre" [?Paul-Louis-Felix Philastre (1837-1902)] (binding)
Rare complete set of the first edition of the official printed record of the most important 19th-century exploratory expedition into Indochina: this copy with an intriguing provenance.
This first edition was limited to 300 copies. The maps are after Garnier himself, whilst the views are taken from sketches by the expedition artist Louis Delaporte. These views, in conjunction with the fine illustrations in the text volumes, form a valuable and remarkably wide-ranging visual record of Indochina as a whole, with the depictions of the ancient capital of Laos at Viet Chan and Angkor in Cambodia being particularly impressive. Garnier was part of the French expedition under Captain Ernest Doudard de Lagrée which set out from Saigon in 1866 to explore the valley of the Mekong River in the hopes of finding a navigable route into south-western China. Garnier took command of the mission when de Lagrée died and he safely led the expedition to the Chinese coast via the Yangtze River. The expedition traversed almost 5,400 miles travelling through Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, mapping over 3,600 miles of terrain previously unknown to Europeans, and becoming the first westerners to enter Yunnan by a southern route. Subsequently, Garnier returned to France a hero, fought in the Franco-Prussian war, and finished the present account of the expedition before eventually returning to Indo-China to establish a colony in Tonkin. The name at the foot of the spines of the text volumes offers the intriguing possibility that the original owner of this set was Paul-Louis-Felix Philastre: naval officer, diplomat and French expert on the Far East. He first arrived in Cochinchina in 1861, and, after the death of Francis Garnier, it was he who, in 1861, negotiated a treaty with the emperor Tu Duc recognising the sovereignty of the Annam empire over Tonkin. Later, Philastre served as French ambassador to Cambodia, and he was also responsible for the first French translation of the Yi king.
Cordier, BS, 329 ; Cordier, BI, 1012-1013.