HELMAN (Isidore-Stanislas). Abrégé historique... - Lot 95 - Gros & Delettrez

Lot 95
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HELMAN (Isidore-Stanislas). Abrégé historique... - Lot 95 - Gros & Delettrez
HELMAN (Isidore-Stanislas). Abrégé historique des principaux traits de la vie de Confucius, célèbre philosophe chinois. A Paris, chez l'auteur et M. Ponce, [1787]. Large in-4, fully engraved, [1] f. (title), 24 plates, each accompanied by a text leaf, pastiche speckled tan basane, 5-rib spine, red title-piece, ornate caissons, red edges (flaws including split jaws, dull corners). Helman's Confucius is by no means an innocent work: it is a brilliant proclamation of Enlightenment ideas: the portrait of Confucius that opens Helman's suite of 24 engravings, associated with a quatrain by Voltaire composed for the Dictionnaire philosophique in 1770, engraved below, is no accident. This was a strong political-philosophical statement, which caused a scandal in its day. Undated, this work was advertised in the Journal de Paris on October 7, 1786, and was most likely delivered to the public early the following year. Indeed, the French orientalist Joseph de Guignes (1721-1800) wrote a detailed review of the work, including a glowing review, in the Journal des sçavans of January 1787 (pp. 72-74): "very well engraved [ ] these plates, on which we have preserved all the costume and taste of the Chinese, form an interesting collection capable of arousing curiosity either by the delicacy of the burin, or by the variety of the subjects". (Inventaire du Fonds Français, Graveurs du XVIIIe siècle, T. XI, n° 83-106; Cordier, Bibliotheca sinica, 667; Cohen 479; See also: P. Torres, Les batailles de l'empereur de Chine, Paris, 2009, notably for the chapter "Confucius et les Lumières, sur une estampe d'Helman"). Provenance: crowned monogram stamped on title; Count Nicolas d'Esterhazy (19th c. engraved armorial bookplate).
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