Catalogue d’Objets Curieux en différens genres; après le décès du… Dont la Vente se fera…le 1er Floréal, an 3e [i.e. 20 April 1795]…sous la direction d’Alexandre Joseph Paillet…. Gilbert AUCTION CATALOGUE: PAIGNON-DIJONVAL.
Catalogue d’Objets Curieux en différens genres; après le décès du… Dont la Vente se fera…le 1er Floréal, an 3e [i.e. 20 April 1795]…sous la direction d’Alexandre Joseph Paillet…

Only Known Record of This Wunderkammer

Catalogue d’Objets Curieux en différens genres; après le décès du… Dont la Vente se fera…le 1er Floréal, an 3e [i.e. 20 April 1795]…sous la direction d’Alexandre Joseph Paillet…

iv, 45 pp. 8vo (176 x 118 mm.), early 20th-cent. green morocco-backed marbled boards (spine a little faded). [Paris: An 3 (i.e. 1795)].

An entirely unstudied auction catalogue with no other known copy; we do not find any examples in WorldCat or among the holdings of the Bibliothèque nationale de France. It describes the encyclopedic cabinet of curiosities assembled by Gilbert Paignon-Dijonval (1708-92), one of the greatest French collectors of the 18th century. He began collecting at the age of 16, and thanks to his appointment as secrétaire du roi and ownership of the textile factory at Sedan — now known as the Manufacture royale de draps Le Dijonval — he was able to form one of the grandest collections in the country, especially rich in drawings, prints, and curiosities. In collaboration with great connoisseurs such as Gersaint, Pierre Remy, Huquier, and Joullain, Paignon-Dijonval made significant purchases at the great sales of the period.

Paignon-Dijonval became the guardian of his orphaned grandson Charles Gilbert Morel de Vindé (1759-1842), and instilled in him a great passion for the fine arts and sciences. Morel de Vindé is best known as the author of the Déclaration des droits de l’homme et du citoyen (1790), and was also an influential agronomist. We know that he inherited his grandfather’s fine library, and collections of paintings, drawings, and prints; however, the fate of the present wunderkammer was unknown until this copy appeared.

This catalogue begins with a laudatory Avant-Propos by Paillet (1743-1814), one of the leading dealers of the time. Paillet recounts the deceased’s unceasing passion for collecting and gives a quick survey of the cabinet’s contents. There are 646 lots described in the catalogue, including coins and medals; sculptures; ceramics; porcelain and lacquerware from Japan and China; clocks and chandeliers; mechanical objects; and paintings (lots 307-360).

The second section of the sale, prepared by the naturalist François Gaillard and devoted to natural history and miscellaneous curiosities, consists of a long run of shells (lots 367-444), minerals, sculpted ivory (mostly from China), Chinese silver vases, Chinese paintings on glass, weapons, artifacts from India, engraved stones, and finally, snuffboxes made from rare materials. Throughout the sale we find specimens and materials from Africa, Asia, Scandinavia, Russia, and all across Europe.

This is a fascinating Revolutionary-era auction catalogue detailing an extensive wunderkammer, and it appears to be the only surviving copy. In her pioneering study of Paillet (see below), JoLynn Edwards does record a secondhand mention of this sale catalogue in a contemporary advertisement; however, she could not locate an example.

Morel de Vindé eventually sold the more than 15,000 drawings and prints en bloc to the English dealer Samuel Woodburn in 1819, and then consigned to auction the pictures (December 1821, Lugt 10152) and the library (March 1823). Two sales traced back to Paignon-Dijonval’s original collections occurred during the French Revolution: a small library sale and the present, both in 1795.

In very good condition; the imprint has been cropped from the title-page, and there is very minor dampstaining to the lower portion of the gutter throughout that does not touch the text.

❧ Not in Lugt, nor in any of the usual reference works on shell and mineral collecting. J. Edwards, Alexandre Joseph Paillet (1996), pp. 281-82. See Lugt, Marques de Collections de Dessins & d’Estampes (online), L.2520, for information on Paignon-Dijonval and Morel de Vindé and their collecting.

Price: $5,750.00

Item ID: 7416