2 parts in one volume. Folio (14 6/8 x 9 inches). Letterpress title-page printed in red and black with engraved vignette. Fine engraved frontispiece title-page (a bit loose), portrait of Colbert, fine folding map of China, 34 double-page plates, 110 engraved vignettes, head- and tail-pieces. Contemporary vellum over paste-board, yapp fore-edges, title in manuscript on the spine (one or two marks).
Provenance: with the bookplate of Ferdinand Dubois de Fosseux (1742-1817), influential secretary of the Academy of Arras on the front paste-down; with the bookplate of Jean-Paul Morin on the front paste-down of each volume, his sale, Paris, 4th November 2011, lot 29.
First edition in French of Nieuhoff's definitive account of the Dutch embassy to Peking: "L'Ambassade de la Compagnie Orientale des Provincies Unies vers l'Empereur de la Chine" which includes an account of the Dutch voyage from Batavia to Peking and an account of their mission; followed by a more general history "Description Generale de l'Empire de la Chine".
The Dutch East India Company was keen to persuade the Emperor to open up the Chinese ports to the Dutch, and Nieuhoff joined Pieter van Goyer and Jacob de Keyser on the mission to visit the Emperor Chun-Chi. The work includes many incidental remarks on the manners and customs of the Chinese, together with a second part comprising a general description of the Chinese Empire. The fine plates and illustrations, most of which are after Nieuhoff's own originals, show town views in China, Tibet and Tartary, together with subjects such as costume and natural history. They became a huge influence on Chinoiserie, which became especially popular in the 18th century, with many artists and architects basing their designs on the illustrations in Nieuhoff's book.
From the distinguished library of Ferdinand Dubois de Fosseux, who became secretary of the Academy of Arras in 1785. Between then and 1792, when he retired, he created a bureau of correspondence, to connect scientific societies all over France, and Paris with the provincial academies in particular. At last the scientific community throughout France shared a national identity and culture. This idea had already been mooted by the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia in 1780, and was revisited again in 1790. Lust 534; Cordier, Sinica 2345-6; Landwehr VOC 540. Catalogued by Kate Hunter