[18th Century French Manuscript] Unique and Beautifully Written Manuscript of 650 Quarto Pages - Unpublished History of Belle-Isle-En-Mer, 1754 With Watercolor Illustration, Bound by Bauzonnet-Trautz

Le Gallen, R. P. (also know as): R.P. Francois Marie De Belle-Isle, Capucin. HISTOIRE DE BELLE-ISLE-EN MER. Belle-Isle-En-Mer: 1748 - 1754. Original Unpublished French Manuscript of 650 pages beautifully written on Whatman Paper with Illuminated title in gilt and colors and with an original watercolor drawing of Belle-Isle-En-Mer as a frontispiece. Thick quarto, 9 7/8 by 7 1/4 inches in an elegant full brown morocco binding by Bauzonnet-Trautz with tooled inside gold borders and all edges gilt. This appears to be the same manuscript which was sold in a sale conducted by the George A. Leavitt and Co. in New York City in June of 1887, "The Library and Art Collection of Henry de Pene du Bois, of New York." Mr. du Bois was born in New Orleans but lived in New York and was a member of the Grolier Club. He assembled a legendary collection of rare books and manuscripts including fine bindings which were sold in 14 sessions between June 13 and 21, 1887. What follows is taken from the description of the bound manuscript given in that sale's catalogue: 

"This is an unpublished history of " Belle-Isle-en-Mer" (Beautiful Isle in the Sea), an island on the Western coast of France and in the Atlantic. Belle-Isle is in the Department of Morbihan, a part of Ancient Brittany. It is some eight miles from Quiberon, which is defended by Fort Penthievre, and is remarkable as the last stronghold in 1795 of about 7,000 Royalists, who, after a most desperate struggle against the troops of the French Republic, eventually surrendered to General Hoche. Belle-Isle forms a canton and is defended by its citadel. It was taken by the English in 1761 and held by them until 1763. The population is from 9,000 to 10,000, most of whom are engaged in the pilchard fishery. The island, which is eleven miles by six, is noted for its grain and superior breed of draught horses. It has several small ports, has good anchorage and is nearly surrounded by rocks. The admirable water-color sketch illustrating the manuscript displays some of its salient features. There are two titles to this unique MS., the first or false title, which is in gold and colors and is worded as stated above, is surrounded by a dentelle border, of which there is another on the verso of the page upon which is the inscription - 'Commencee en 1748 et Finie le 1754.' On the back of the water-color marine view alluded to is—' Vue de Belle-Isle-en-Mer, 1840.' The second, or real title is similarly worded, but with the addition of the date ' 1754.' It is a beautiful example of modern illumination in gold and colors. The style is some what Moresque, with red, green and white, touched up with red, and of diamond or lozenge shape decoration. These are heightened with gold, also the words, 'Histoire' and line, ' Belle-Isle-en-Mer,' which is of jewelled design. In the U2 THE PENE DU BOIS COLLECTION. upper part of this illuminated page are two circles of white and crimson, surrounded with gold. The text of the manuscript commences with the dedication—'Ames tres chers et honores compatriotes,' and is signed, 'F. F. M. D. B. C.' This is followed by a preface commencing page 6 and ending on page 26. The work is divided into five books running from pages 27 to 612. Then comes a supplement by the author which is followed by the copyist's certificate and three pages of notes by M. Detaille, Mayor of Belle-Isle. The certificate just referred to reads:—' I, the undersigned Jean Baptiste le Gallen, nephew of the author, certify the present copy conforms to the manu script in the handwriting of the author, belonging to M. Detaille. now Mayor [' Major '] of the place, and no other changes have been made than the inscription paragraphs, while in the original, are in the margins, as also some numbered pages of reference, which are not the same in the author's as in this copy. In support of which I have signed, and in this faith I have added to this copy as in the original. At Belle- Isle-en- Mer, October 31, 1789, signed, Le Gallen, cadet.'

This history is very complete. The first book commences with, 'Islands in General ', then refers to the formation of the Island, its antiquity and indigenous population, of Roman medals found there, a Roman camp, and gives its annals in good narrative and chronologically. Many of the historical references are of importance, as Belle-Isle, being a point of vantage in war-time, played a conspicuous part in medievalism and later times. The great interest of the MS. is attached to the fact of its having been associated with the fortunes of the Foucquet family. Anciently a seigneury of the King, Belle-Isle became the property of the Foucquets, of whom the most celebrated members in history and literature were—the famous Superintendent Nicholas Foucquet, the patron of La Fontaine and Corneille, and devoted friend of St. Evremond and Madame de Se'vigne —and the grandson of the last-named Charles Louis Auguste Foucquet, who was in 1740 made a Marshal of France, in 1758 Minister of War, in 1749 a member of the Academie Francaise, and in 1748 a peer of France by the title of Duke of Belle-Isle."

AUCTIONEER'S NOTE: According to the experts, this volume may have been written and bound closer to the time of the watercolor, i.e., just after 1840, even though it was composed in the 1750's. Trautz worked in Paris between 1830 and 1879. Before 1851, they are signed "Bauzonnet-Trautz" (after that, Trautz-Bauzonnet), suggesting 1840-1851 as the range of dates for binding. 


Very modest rubbing at the joints and edges, otherwise in beautiful Fine condition. The bindery name is in gilt at the very bottom of the spine. 


Have a Similar Item?

Consign with Us
Auction Notes:

Let Cowan's Handle Your Shipping!

Cowan's Auctions will be closed the week of December 25, 2017 through January 1, 2018.  Payment and shipping for this auction will not be processed until after the first of year. Thank you for your understanding.

Cowan's is one of the only houses to offer full service, in-house shipping. Please note shipping costs are factored by weight and size, not purchase price. Larger items like furniture may incur a higher shipping charge. Our experts pack and ship over 5,000 purchases each year. Shipping costs are included on every invoice to make getting your items as fast and easy as possible. For more information, click HERE or contact shipping@cowans.com