SAINT-AUBIN, Gabriel. Placets de l'officier Desbans. Preface by Neil MacGregor, Director, British Museum. 62 pp. Illustrated with 15 facsimile drawings by Gabriel Saint-Aubin, plus a few head- and tail-pieces. Folio, 360 x 235 mm, bound in full red silk over boards, with the gilt-stamped coat-of-arms of Marie-Antoinette on both covers. Paris: 1775 (i.e. London: Roxburghe Club, 2007).
Privately printed for members of the Roxburghe Club. This is a facsimile edition of an original French eighteenth-century manuscript produced in Paris in 1775. Edme-Louis Desbans, born 1728, wrote his own text and orchestrated the production of this superlative manuscript as a petition for his advancement in the French Army. It was intended for two readers only: Marie-Antoinette, the new Queen of France, and her husband Louis XVI.
Desbans flatters the new Queen as a patron of a new taste in the arts, architecture, fashion, music (as supporter of her fellow Austrian composer Gluck), and symbolic mother of her adopted nation. For Louis XVI, the petition becomes more down-to-earth and appeals to his sense of majesty, fairness and duty as head of the French nation and the French army.
The heart and soul of this Placet can be found in the exquisite pen and wash drawings by Saint-Aubin, which accompany the particular points Desbans is trying to make with the King and the Queen. Two of the most captivating drawings show the performance of Gluck's Iphigénie en Aulide attended by Marie-Antoinette and the Coronation scene of Louis XVI at Rheims on 12 June 1775.
The manuscript was in the possession of Baron Pichon in the late nineteenth century. It then passed into the collection Baron Maurice de Rothschild. In 1963 it was acquired by Mrs Charles Wrightsman of New York. The facsimile was printed by Santiago Saavedra Ediciones of Madrid. Limited to 75 copies printed for gift and for sale.
Item nr. 127314