LANGLÉS, Louis-Mathieu (1763-1824).
Monuments Anciens et Modernes de l'Hindoustan
Paris: Didot, [1815-] 1821. 2 volumes in 3, small folio. (14 7/8 x 10 3/4 inches). Text: half-titles in each volume, folding table in vol. 1, 4pp errata and 2pp list of plates in rear of vol. 2. Atlas: engraved title with a large vignette after Henry Salt, 3 engraved maps hand-colored in outline, 143 engraved plates (12 hand-colored, and including 24 plates after Thomas Daniell).
Contemporary French red calf-backed red paper boards, flat spines in six compartments divided by gilt roll tools, lettered in gilt in the second and fourth compartments
A beautiful copy of the very rare large-paper first edition of Langles definitive work on India, profusely illustrated and including plates after Thomas Daniell.
A contemporary review described this work as follows: "Doubtless it was a vast undertaking to give a complete description of the immense country of Hindostan; to trace its history; to set forth the religion and the manners of its inhabitants; to study and to design its antique monuments and its populous cities: such an undertaking required the united knowledge and talents of the geographer, the philologist, the historian, the philosopher, and the archaeologist. Several estimable artists have already made us acquainted with the picturesque views and the romantic sites of this interesting country, with the various and singular costumes of the Hindoos, and their prodigious monuments. Many learned Indianists have developed the mysteries, till then but imperfectly known, of the Brahmanic theology; and the most celebrated travellers, judicious antiquaries, and well-informed officers, have in almost every part extended their inquiries to the most minute details of topography. However, not one of them has been able to present us with a complete view of the country, whose several parts they have described. Far be it from us to refuse the well-deserved need of praise to the major part of these authors; but one man alone, a man of superior talent, placed in a situation which enabled him to take in with a single glance, to collate, compare, and digest into one body all the materials which had been furnished by so many and such able writers, has succeeded in forming them into one beautiful and symmetrical edifice. M. Langles is the person to whom we allude" (Port Folio, vol. XVI, July to December 1823, p. 252).
Langles was the most noted Orientalist in France and served as the keeper of the Oriental manuscripts at the Royal Library. Published in 26 parts beginning in 1813, Brunet cites three issues: regular paper at 15fr per part, papier velin at 24fr per part and grande papier velin at 36fr per part.
The illustrations notably include 24 plates after Thomas Daniell, as well as other views of ancient monuments after Forbes and others. The colour plates are largely after Indian miniatures in the Royal Library collection and are richly hand-coloured and heightened with gold.
Brunet III, 819-820.