TURNER, Samuel (1749-1802). - Samuel DAVIS (1760-1819, illustrator)
An Account of an Embassy to the Court of the Teshoo Lama in Tibet, containing a narrative of a journey through Bootan, and part of Tibet ... To which are added, views taken on the spot, by Lieutenant Samuel Davis; and observations botanical, mineralogical, and medical, by Mr. Robert Saunders
London: printed by W. Bulmer & Co, and sold by G. & W. Nicol, 1800. Imperial quarto. (13 x 9 3/4 inches). Folding engraved map after Samuel Davis, 13 plates (1 aquatint by De la Motte after Stubbs, 1 double-page line engraving of script, 2 engraved views by James Basire after Turner, 1 engraved plan and 8 views by James Basire after Samuel Davis), 1 engraved illustration.
Contemporary russia, covers bordered in gilt and blind, armorial stamp on the upper cover, expertly rebacked to style, spine with double-raised bands in six compartments, lettered in the second, the others with a repeat decoration in gilt, period marbled endpaper and edges
Provenance: Sir Simon Richard Brisett Taylor (1783-1815, arms in gilt on the upper cover, armorial bookplate on the front pastedown)
A rare large paper issue of the first edition of the official account of Turner's embassy to Bhutan and Tibet: the first great western account of the region.
Acting on Warren Hastings orders, Samuel Turner's expedition was despatched with the aim of improving "trans-Himalayan trade after the Nepal war. Turner's party, including the surgeon and botanist Dr Robert Saunders, set off from Calcutta in January 1783. Davis was to survey the route and record the topographical features of the country ... While in Bhutan during their first audience with the Deb Raja in his palace at Tassisudon, Turner explained to him that 'drawing constituted in England a branch of education; and that we made unequal progress in the art, I could boast but little skill in it, but that my friend Mr. Davis had attained a great degree of perfection' ... After four months in Bhutan waiting for permission to enter Tibet ... the three men were told that only Turner and Saunders could proceed. Turner believed that the authorities were suspicious of Davis's drawing skills ... Leaving Davis behind in Bhutan ... Turner and Saunders departed for Tibet on 8 September 1783. Their travels were to last until March the following year" ( Indian Life & Landscape p.194). The Table of Plates notes that the plates were all engraved from originals in the possession of Warren Hastings - including the image of the Yak. The Yak was one of a pair sent to Hastings, by his kinsman, Turner. Only one survived the journey, and it is this animal that was painted by George Stubbs from life. In the background, Stubbs incorporates Davis's view of Punakha Dzong, the summer palace in Bhutan.
Published at 2l. 2s in boards, contemporary advertisements reveal that a smaller number of copies were available in large paper, printed from the same setting of type as the smaller regular issue but in larger size and on better paper stock, at 4l. 4s.
Cox I, 346; cf. J. Egerton George Stubbs, painter: catalogue raisonné 284; cf. P. Godrej & P. Rohatgi Scenic Splendours India through the printed image p.34; cf. Indian Life and Landscape p.194; Lennox-Boyd 140; Lowndes IV, p.2724; Lust 208; Yakushi T140.