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BOISSERÉE Sulpiz. Ansichten, Risse und einzelne Thiele des Doms von Köln [atlas].-Geschichte und Beschreibung des Doms von Köln [text]. Stuttgart: Boisserée and Cotta [text printed by Didot, Paris; plates by Durand & Sauvé, Paris and Felsing, Darmstadt], 1821-23[-30].

2 volumes, elephant folio: plate atlas (1070x745 mm), folio: text (550x410 mm). 18 engraved plates, including engraved title with vignette panorama of Cologne, after Schinkel, Moller, Quaglio, M.H. Fuchs, and others, by Duttenhofer, Rauch, Sellier, Lesnier, and others, plates 11 and 12 hand-coloured. Half-title in text volume, text diagrams. Some spotting to plates, mostly marginal, short marginal tears in two plates, text spotted but a magnificent copy in contemporary red roan elaborately tooled in gilt and blind, olive endpapers, gilt edges, tissue guards (atlas volume scuffed, short tear at upper hinge, front flyleaf torn).

First edition of this extraordinary work. The foundation of the cathedral, or Dom, of Cologne was laid during the thirteenth century to a design attributed to Gerhard von Rile. Building proceeded very slowly and building work stopped in 1560. It was chiefly owing to Boisserée’s campaign of study, started in 1808, that the work re-commenced in 1823 and the consecration ceremony finally took place on 15 October 1880 in the presence of Kaiser Wilhelm I. “Sulpiz Boisserèe was one of the founders of modern art-historical studies outside the museum/academic field. His Geschichte und Beschreibung des Doms von Koln is the first architectural history. His dedication to classifying by school and eras, instead of the curiosity jumble of previous centuries was important for subsequent historians and museum curators”. (Dictionary of Art Historians)It is an exceptional book in every sense: size, scale, quality and importance. Boisserée chose the best artist and engravers to produce the work, had it printed in Paris, three plates were printed by Felsing at Darmstadt, and issued in four fascicules of plates and two of text. On seeing the first large plate Goethe added his support to the campaign of study; his enthusiasm continued unabated and he declared Moller’s interior view (plate XVI) a masterpiece. It is among the most artistic and beautiful of any cathedral view. Two plates reproduce stained glass; they are the first illustrations of the Dom windows, and depict some glass now lost. Complementing the majesty of the engravings Boisserée’s text provides “one of the most important iterary documents of the Gothic Revival in Germany.” (Robson-Scott, The Literary Background of the Gothic Revival in Germany, Oxford, 1965 p.279).

Brunet I, 1072

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