|Boomen, uit Nieuhof en Boim |
Arbres / Boomen, uit Boim.
[A la Haye, Chez Pierre de Hondt, MDCCXLIX. Avec Privilege de Sa Majeste Imperiale, & de Nos
Seigneurs les Etats de Hollande & de West-Prise. 1749]
Image 190 x 138 mm, Plate 212 x 181 mm, Sheet 273 x 215 mm.
A depiction of Chinese plants from the Dutch edition of the Description de la Chine, part of Prévost' s monumental 'l'Histoire General des Voyages’. The plate depicts two fruiting trees in an idealised Chinese landscape by a river. Both are labelled, with a corresponding key in French and Dutch appearing at the top of the plate as a decorative ribbon. The first, labelled 'Ya-ta,' is probably a variety of either a lychee or longan tree, though its scaled fruit could also be durian. The second, the quey-pe, is a Chinese cinnamon, the bark of which has been used as a spice for thousands of years. The depiction of both trees follows the earlier drawings of Chinese plants published by Michal Boym (1612-1659), a Polish botanist, author, explorer, and Jesuit missionary, who carried out an extensive survey of
Chinese flora and fauna during his travels. The Histoire General des Voyages was a monumental eighteenth century general history divided according to geographic region. The original volumes were written by Antoine François Prévost d'Exiles, a French author, novelist, theologian, natural historian, and a priest of the Jesuit and Benedictine orders, but continued by numerous other authors after Prevost's death. The earliest books mostly deal with the Far East and South-East Asia, providing a general history of their regions, kingdoms, customs, culture, costumes, natural phenomena and religious beliefs. Much of Prevost's information is derived from the reports of Jesuit missionaries, Portuguese merchants, and
famous explorers, from Marco Polo to Sir Francis Drake. Although written in French, the popularity
of the Histoire among Dutch audiences meant that many of the illustrative plates and maps published
to accompany the work were either re-engraved or subtitled in Dutch by the engraver Jakob van der
Schley: Prevost himself had travelled widely throughout the Netherlands, launching his literary
career in Amsterdam and the Hague after fleeing the Benedictines in France. Prevost's work on
China, and indeed many of van der Schley's plates, owe a great debt to Johan Nieuhoff (1618-1672) ,
a Dutch traveller who explored much of China, India, and Brazil while in the employ of the Dutch
East India Company. Nieuhoff wrote extensively, with a particular focus on China, for his memoirs,
and his numerous drawings of Chinese places and people were much copied by later engravers for
numerous works of Chinese interest. Nieuhoffs own book became a major source of inspiration for
eighteenth century chinoiserie, and are amongst the first western illustrations to depict the Chinese
people in a manner which was based upon personal observation rather than the tradition of oriental
Jakob van der Schley (26th July 1715 - 12th February 1779), also known as Jan von Schley or
Jacobus van Schley, was a Dutch engraver and draughtsman. An apprentice of the French engraver
Bernard Picart, he is best known for his engravings of the majority of plates in the Dutch edition of
'l'Histoire General des V~ages.' Despite producing mainly maps and views for this work, van der Schley
was predominantly a portrait artist and literary illustrator.
Condition: Sheet trimmed within plate on left margin, as issued. Binders crease and holes to right
margin. Clean, crisp impression with 'M Gallard’ Angoumois watermark.