Catalog Archive
Auction 188, Lot 326

Includes Manuscript Letter by Author and Proof Plates

"[2 Volumes] Les Incas, ou la Destruction de l'Empire du Perou...",

Subject: Peru, Natives

Period: 1777 (published)


Color: Black & White

5.4 x 8.5 inches
13.7 x 21.6 cm
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This is Jean Francois Marmontel's two-volume account of the fall of the Inca Empire, illustrated with 11 plates. Marmontel (1723-99) was known as a historian, writer, member of the Académie Française, and historiographer of France. He was censured by the Sorbonne and the Archbishop of Paris due to a chapter on religious tolerance that he included in his book Bélisaire, and he retaliated in Les Incas by attributing the cruelty of the Spanish in the Americas to their religious fanaticism. The plates each include short descriptions, and are based on illustrations by Jean Michel Moreau Le Jeune that were engraved by de Launay, Duclos, de Ghendt, Helman, Leveau, Née and Simonet. This example is particularly interesting as each engraving is included twice, one of which is a proof plate without the short description below the image. Marmontel's work was significant during the Enlightenment era for its plea for tolerance, and was reprinted in numerous editions in several languages.

In addition, a hand-signed manuscript letter by the author is pasted to one of the front free-endpapers. The letter was sent by Marmontel to the Count of Escherny, a Swiss nobleman, orator, and friend of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. In the letter Marmontel explains that he cannot return a manuscript that Rousseau had submitted to the Académie, as the rules of the Académie prohibited the return of manuscripts. The letter includes a red wax stamp on verso.

This superb example of Marmontel's work was handsomely rebound by Marius Michel, a famed French bookbinder, in full red morocco bindings with gilt tooling on covers and spine, raised bands and gilt title on spine, marbled endpapers, and all edges gilt. Octavo; two volumes (338 pp. and 380 pp.), 22 plates (11 plates duplicated).

References: Sabin #44652.

Condition: A

Clean and bright interior with minor occasional soiling and staining. The last proof plate in the first volume was trimmed and mounted on old paper prior to being rebound into the volume. The superb binding is tight and in excellent condition, with one minor crack forming along the front joint at the top of the first volume.

Estimate: $1,100 - $1,400

Sold for: $950

Closed on 6/22/2022