Paris, Publiés par l’Auteur (Imprimerie Lithographique de Lemercier; Typographie de Firmin Didot Frères), 1846-1855
Fine, complete copy of one of the earliest publications with illustrations based upon daguerreotype originals. In 1842, Girault de Prangey embarked on an ambitious tour of the Mediterranean, travelling through Greece, Asia Minor, Egypt, Palestine, and Syria. He had begun to experiment a year before with Daguerre’s invention, and took with him a custom-made daguerreotype camera. After travelling for more than two years, he returned to France in early 1845, and began work on a comparative history of Islamic architecture featuring illustrations based on his archive of nearly 900 daguerreotypes, of which some 250 recorded the principal archaeological sites, landscapes, and people of Egypt. According to advertisements, Monuments arabes d’Égypte, de Syrie et d’Asie mineur was projected in twenty to thirty livraisons, each priced sixteen francs, and containing four lithographs printed in two tints accompanied by historical and descriptive text. Only six parts were issued before the publication was abandoned. Although inventoried by the Count de Simony in 1937, and by Helmut Gernsheim in the 1950s, the great majority of Girault de Prangey’s daguerreotypes remained in their original plate boxes, receiving little attention until quite recently. After a large group of plates was seen in the auction rooms, in 2003, it was widely realised that the lithographs illustrating Monuments arabes d’Égypte, de Syrie et d'Asie mineur had been based directly on these daguerreotypes, the artists tracing over the photographic images.