RICCI, Matteo (1552-1610); and Nicolas TRIGAULT (1577-1628)
Histoire de l'expedition Chrestienne au royaume de la Chine entreprinse par les peres de la Compagnie de Iesus
Lille: Pierre de Rache, 1617. Small 4to. (7 5/8 x 5 3/4 inches). Title printed in red and black. , 559, pp.
Contemporary vellum, spine titled in manuscript, expertly recased (small repair at head of spine)
Provenance: Franciscan Monastery at Weert (small inked stamp on title)
Second edition in French of the most important work on China published in the first half of the 17th century.
"In 1615, the French Jesuit missionary Nicolas Trigault published De Christiana Expeditione apud Sinas Suscepta ab Societae Jesu ... based on the reports and papers of Mateo Ricci, the Italian who carried the Jesuit mission in China beyond the Portuguese trading colony at Macau to the mainland. Ricci lived and worked in Canton and Nanjing, among other places, and died in Beijing in 1610. This chronicle about the Western mission in China from 1583-1611 also provided a systematic portrait of contemporary Chinese society as perceived by Ricci, who was fluent in Chinese and exhibited both a sympathetic interest in Chinese culture and an erudite perspective on the Jesuits' accomplishments. De Christiana Expeditione was among the most important and widely read books on China published during the seventeenth century. French, German, Spanish and Italian translations quickly appeared, but not English" ( China on Paper , p. 10).
The first French edition was published in Lyon in 1616, translated by D. F. de Riquebourg-Trigault (a nephew of Nicholas Trigault) with the present second edition following. All early editions are rare. The work "became the most influential description of China to appear during the first half of the seventeenth century ... [and] provided European readers with more, better organized, and more accurate information about China than was ever before available" (Lach and Van Kley).
Cordier Sinica 809-810; Sommervogel, VIII, 240; Streit V:717; Lach and Van Kley, Asia in the Making of Europe, vol. III, pp. 512-513.