FOSSÉ, Charles-Louis François de (1734-1812, author). - Louis-Marin BONNET (1736-1793, engraver)
Idées d'un militaire pour la disposition des troupes confiées jeunes officiers dans la défense et l'attaque des petits postes
Paris: printed by François-Ambroise Didot l'ainé, published by Alexandre Jombert, jeune, 1783. Large quarto. (11 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches). Half-title, title with wood-engraved vignette, letterpress dedication with engraved armorial headpiece printed in colours. 11 engraved plates (10 folding) printed in colours "en manière de pastel" by Louis-Marin Bonnet "premier Graveur en ce genre", each plate hinged to the upper margin of the relevant caption leaf, as issued.
Contemporary tree calf, covers bordered in gilt, flat spine divided in compartments with gilt roll tools, red morocco lettering piece in the second, the others with a repeat decoration in gilt, marbled endpapers
The first edition of a work of great importance to the history of the development of colour printing.
One of the most successful eighteenth century experiments in colour-printing, this is the only book illustrated by Bonnet, the inventor of pastel manner engraving, or "gravure en maniere de pastel." The crayon manner technique for reproducing chalk drawings in three-colour prints had been invented by J.C. François in 1757, and Bonnet was his pupil. Bonnet extended the technique to suggest tone and printed additional colours, calling his new method the pastel manner. This technically demanding process allowed Bonnet to produce colour prints of the highest quality and paved the way for the great French illustrated works of the late-18th and early-19th century. The text is the work of the French military engineer Charles-Louis de Fossé and divides naturally into two sections. The first dealing with the strategies to be employed when attacking (or defending) a small military outpost manned by between 30 and 300 men; the second dealing with the correct use of colour when drawing military maps and plans (and touching on perspective drawing as applied to military plans). This second part is illustrated using Bonnet's plates. Apart from the colour printing, another unusual feature of this beautifully produced work is that the plates are all attached along the upper margin of the descriptive associated caption leaves: this allows for individual plans to be folded out whilst the relevant text in the body of the book is studied.
Brunet II,1354; cf. V. Carlson & J. Ittmann Regency to empire: French Printmaking 1715 - 1814 (Baltimore Museum of Art, 1984); Colorful Impressions: The Printmaking Revolution in Eighteenth-Century France. (Washington: National Gallery of Art, 2003-2004) no. 46; Jean Fürstenberg Das französische Buch im 18 Jahrhundert p. 121; Graesse II:620; Jacques Herold Louis-Marin Bonnet, catalogue de l'Oeuvre grav. (Paris: 1935) p.28; Joseph Marie Quérard La France littéraire, ou Dictionnaire bibliographique des savants (Paris: 1829) III, p.173 ('ouvrage estimé').