Unpublished working manuscript, written on rectos only, with numerous additions and corrections, entitled: “Essai sur l’Histoire des Arts en Egypte pouvant servir d’Appendice au grand Ouvrage de la Commission.”
Unpublished working manuscript, written on rectos only, with numerous additions and corrections, entitled: “Essai sur l’Histoire des Arts en Egypte pouvant servir d’Appendice au grand Ouvrage de la Commission.”
Unpublished working manuscript, written on rectos only, with numerous additions and corrections, entitled: “Essai sur l’Histoire des Arts en Egypte pouvant servir d’Appendice au grand Ouvrage de la Commission.”
Unpublished working manuscript, written on rectos only, with numerous additions and corrections, entitled: “Essai sur l’Histoire des Arts en Egypte pouvant servir d’Appendice au grand Ouvrage de la Commission.”
Unpublished working manuscript, written on rectos only, with numerous additions and corrections, entitled: “Essai sur l’Histoire des Arts en Egypte pouvant servir d’Appendice au grand Ouvrage de la Commission.”
Unpublished working manuscript, written on rectos only, with numerous additions and corrections, entitled: “Essai sur l’Histoire des Arts en Egypte pouvant servir d’Appendice au grand Ouvrage de la Commission.”
Unpublished working manuscript, written on rectos only, with numerous additions and corrections, entitled: “Essai sur l’Histoire des Arts en Egypte pouvant servir d’Appendice au grand Ouvrage de la Commission.”
Unpublished working manuscript, written on rectos only, with numerous additions and corrections, entitled: “Essai sur l’Histoire des Arts en Egypte pouvant servir d’Appendice au grand Ouvrage de la Commission.”

Unpublished Working Manuscript; “Egyptomania”

Unpublished working manuscript, written on rectos only, with numerous additions and corrections, entitled: “Essai sur l’Histoire des Arts en Egypte pouvant servir d’Appendice au grand Ouvrage de la Commission.”

Lithographed frontispiece of Lenoir by Lasteyrie in Vol. I. Vol. I: 1–99 leaves; Vol. II: 98–279 leaves; Vol. III: 278bis–328 leaves; Vol. IV: 1–168 leaves; Vol. V: 169–253 leaves. Five vols. Small folio (ca. 335 x 220 mm.), Vols. I-IV disbound, Vol. V in cont. cloth-backed paste-paper boards (extremities worn). Paris: ca. 1830.

A remarkable discovery: the unpublished working manuscript, with numerous corrections and additions, of Alexandre Lenoir (1761-1839), the controversial director of the revolutionary Musée des Monuments Français, antiquary, and critic. This manuscript remains unstudied in its entirety. While the manuscript was evidently prepared to be sent to the printer, Lenoir clearly could not let it go before making many hundreds, if not thousands, of additions, corrections, etc., attaching numerous slips and sheets of additional text.

Lenoir envisioned this work as the essential appendix to the Description de l’Egypte, concentrating on the arts and iconography of ancient Egypt. Lenoir was a prodigious writer and this is reflected by the countless slips and sheets of paper large and small covered with his additions and corrections bound in or pasted on. He has also left spaces on many leaves where he planned to have illustrations. His hand is highly legible and uniform throughout. The present manuscript also offers unprecedented insight into Lenoir’s perspectives on museums, archaeology, astronomy, mythology, and religion.

BIOGRAPHY: Born in Paris, Lenoir’s entry to museum administration came at the recommendation of Gabriel François Doyen (1726-1806), his former painting instructor. He suggested in 1791 that Lenoir be hired as Guardian of the Dépôt des Petits-Augustins, where the Revolutionary government preserved seized artworks selected by the Commission des Monuments — a group of antiquarians, artists, and scientists formed to safeguard objects of artistic and historical importance. Lenoir proved an efficient and organized administrator, producing up-to-date inventories of the warehouse through which thousands of art objects passed. In the midst of the French Revolution, with its adherents eager to obliterate any trace of France’s aristocratic heritage, Lenoir strove to conserve what he deemed representative pieces of the country’s artistic growth.

“Officially recognized in 1795 and remaining open until the Bourbon Restoration, [the Museum of French Monuments] was largely the creation of one man, Alexandre Lenoir, and differed in fundamental respects from the Louvre museum of the 1790s. Unlike the Louvre, whose roots lie deep in the ancien régime and in the Enlightenment ideal of a museum, the Musée des Monuments was the product of circumstances unique to the Revolution and would have been inconceivable before 1789. Instead of paintings and antique marbles, it contained French sculpture and tomb monuments from the Middle Ages to the early nineteenth century — not then (or since) in many people’s canon of ‘great’ art. This lack of recognized masterpieces pushed Lenoir to create a museum more strictly chronological than any that had gone before and to design the first ‘period rooms’ in museum history in order to display his collection sympathetically. Unable in contemporary eyes to stand on their own as works of art, many of Lenoir’s monuments required historicizing and exoticizing through context to become museum objects.”–McClellan, Inventing the Louvre: Art, Politics, and the Origins of the Modern Museum in Eighteenth-Century Paris, p. 155.

Lenoir was also a prominent participant in the Egyptomania that took hold in France in the early 19th-century following Napoleon’s expedition and the publication of the Description de l’Egypte. Through Freemasonry — he was a member of the lodge of St. Jean d’Ecosse du Contrat Social — had been introduced to ancient Egyptian iconography and he became obsessed with understanding the society and its then indecipherable symbols. Besides his sole “monograph,” Histoire de la Franche-Maçonnerie (1814), and several articles in scientific journals, we know little of the extent of Lenoir’s knowledge. He was later considered as a candidate for the post of the Louvre’s Egyptian curator and Empress Joséphine hired him to inventory and describe her personal collection of antiquities, containing a large number of Egyptian objects. The present manuscript reveals, for the first time, the entirety of Lenoir’s obsessive and thorough research into a culture which he believed to have greatly influenced his own.

This extensive manuscript is divided into two parts: the first (Vols. I-III, 328 leaves in total), is a comprehensive discussion of ancient Egyptian society, in particular its geography, religious beliefs, mythological figures, mummification, important monuments and tombs, connections to ancient Greece, arts, the pyramids, the Sphinx, the coronations and burials of pharaohs, economy, agriculture, musical instruments, papyrus, costumes and military uniforms, etc.

The second (Vols. IV-V, 353 leaves in total), functions as a supplement devoted to research on the culture’s poetry and music, mythological geography, Zodiac signs, illustrations in tombs, ancient Egyptian customs, law and its applications, sarcophagi, literature and folklore, hieroglyphic characters, rituals, etc. In the second section, Lenoir dedicates more than 15 pages to an examination of the Rosetta Stone and addresses Champollion’s concurrent (and ultimately correct) interpretation of hieroglyphics.

A few leaves a little chipped but in fine condition.

❧ N.B.G., Vol. 30, cols. 671-75. “L’Egypte, par exemple, civilisation première, est constamment invoquée par Lenoir pour interpréter les monuments français. Comme Dupuis, Lenoir, dans sa manie assimilatrice, voit en Notre-Dame un Iséum, déchiffre les portails comme des zodiaques ou des hiéroglyphes, avec le Christ en Horus…Lenoir introduisit dans la réflexion historique des capacités d’imagination, de sensibilité, de liberté qui transcendaient les préjugés dont il était lui-même le produit. Son histoire de l’art à l’estomac, à l’emporte-pièce, regardait à l’essentiel; elle marchait trop vite, mais allait au but.”–INHA.

Price: $125,000.00

Item ID: 6375