TURNER, Samuel (1749-1802). - Samuel DAVIS (1760-1819, illustrator); translated by CASTERA, J.
Ambassade au Thibet et au Bhoutan
Paris: Chez F. Buisson, 1800. 3 volumes. Text, 2 volumes: 8vo (7 3/4 x 4 5/8 inches). Atlas volume: small folio (12 1/4 x 9 1/2 inches). Text vols. with half-titles, pencil annotations; Atlas with folding engraved map and 14 plates, 2 folding.
Text volumes: contemporary tree sheep, spines gilt. Atlas: contemporary sheep-backed paper boards.
First French edition of Turner's account of the 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.
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.