CASSAS, Louis-François (1756-1827)
Grandes vues pittoresques des principaux sites et monuments de la Grèce et de la Sicile et des sept collines de Rome
Paris: Crapelet, 1813. Folio. 8pp. 16 line engraved plates (9 double-page, 5 folding), engraved by J. M. Sylvester Bence. Plates numbered I-X and I-VI. Expert restoration at sheet edges.
Expertly bound to style in half blue morocco and marbled paper covered boards
Very rare album of large-format views of Greece, Sicily and Rome.
In 1784 Louis-François Cassas accompanied the Comte de Choiseul-Gauffier, French Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, on his travels to Constantinople. He travelled through the Middle East to Aleppo, Antioch, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Cyprus and Egypt and a pictorial account of his journey, Voyage pittoresque de la Syrie, de la Phoenicie, de la Palestine, et de la Basse Egypte, was published in Paris in 1799. Cassas reached Lebanon, and specifically the Baalbek complex of Roman temples and ruins, in June or July 1785, a site most likely known to Western travellers though the drawings and engravings of Robert Wood from his trip to Syria and Greece in the 1750s (see R. Wood, The ruins of Balbec, otherwise Heliopolis in Coelosyria, London, 1757). Cassas wrote to the ambassador 'I have drawn and measured the main monuments which yield in no way to the beautiful antiquities of Rome by the grandeur, nobility and purity of architecture (see: 'Letter to Ambassador' in A. Gilet, Im Banne der Sphinx, exh. cat., 1994-5, p.159) and his painstaking attention to detail provides a remarkably accurate archaeological survey of the area. Like many 18th century view painters, Cassas used sketches he had made during his travels to work up into finished pictures once he had returned home. Itinerant Grand Tourists were his main clientele, and they would order from him the views that for them best represented the exotic - and in those days inaccessible - locations to which he had travelled. On 15 September 1787, the German poet Goethe wrote in a letter: 'Cassas' work is extremely beautiful. It made me think of a lot of things I'd like to tell you.' Gérard-Georges Lemaire, who devotes a whole chapter on Cassas and Goethe in his treatise The Orient in Western Art. He handles the picturesque deftly. His skill lay in his ability to render the architecture and costumes with a meticulous attention to detail that vividly evokes, for western eyes, the exotic character of the people and events depicted' (see: G.G. Lemaire, The Orient in Western Art, Könemann, 2005, p. 82). The subjects are: 1. Vue generale d'Athenes; 2. Portique et Cariatydes du Temple de Pandrose a Athenes; 3. Monument de Philopappus; 4. Facade du Grand Temple d'Agrigente, 5. Vue laterale du Grand Temple d'Agrigente, 6. Restes du Temple de Junon a Agrigente, 7. Vue d'une partie des ruines du Temple de Junon Lacinia a Agrigente, 8. Restes du Theatre de Taormine, 9. Restes du Theatre de Syracuse, 10. Oreille de Denys le tyran a Syracuse, 11. Vue du Mont Capitolin et du Campo Vaccine dessinee des Jardins Farnese sur le Mont Palatin; 12. Vue du Mont C_lius et du Mont Aventin dessinee du Couvent de St. Bonaventure sur le Mont Palatin; 13. Vue du Mont Palatin dessinee des marches de l'eglise du Couvent de St. Gregoire, 14. Vue du Mont Esquilin dessinee du premier ordre du Cotisee, 15. Vue du Mont Ianicule et des Fabriques de Ripa grande dessinee de l'eglise appeUee le Prieurat, and 16. Vue du Mont Quirinal et d'une partie du Mont Viminal, dessinee de Ste. Marie Majeure. A magnificent work with monumental engravings. Not in Blackmer or Contominas.
Brunet I, p.1616.