Chateau de Fourqueux (Yvelines, France): 1831. Large folio (418 x 263 mm). Manuscript on paper. 1 f. (calligraphic title-page) + 1 f. (Avis) + 64 pp. catalogue entries written on ruled paper (the majority of the pages are completely full) + 8 blank pages (numbered 65-72) + 1 fol. ("Table des articles contenus dans le Catalogue"). Original green quarter calf over green glazed paper boards, upper cover bearing the title in gilt, borders tooled with a blind roll and double gilt fillet; board edges nicked or bumped, scuffs inexplicably touched up with green ink. Binding quite sound, contents clean, unmarked, and perfectly legible, written on thick Dutch paper bearing the following watermarks: "D & C Blauw," "Horne," "J [diamond] S" surmounted by a cross (type of Heawood 917 although the diamond is replaced by a heart), and a crowned lion rampant bearing a sword (not in Heawood). Inside the front board is written an early shelf-mark: "No. 3921.-G. 1. 16." Very good. Item #3540
Fascinating manuscript catalogue of a once formidable French castle library, long ago dispersed and unjustly forgotten, in which are clearly listed more than 1700 titles. The introductory notice specifies that the books were housed in 20 armoire cabinets, and describes exactly how the catalogue was compiled. The Chateau de Fourqueux was located near Saint-Germain-en-Laye (Yvelines, Ile-de-France) and was destroyed some years after our manuscript catalogue was compiled. This is the only record of the Bibliotheque de Fourqueux.
Various disciplines are represented: history, "novels," literature (in French and other languages), theater, theology and religion, law, science, art (and allied subjects), militaria, and even education. History and travel are well represented, with many of the great classics such as the voyages to America of Frezier, Labat, Ulloa, La Condamine, Exquemelin's History of the Buccaneers of America, the Journal of a Voyage to Siam by the Abbe de Choisy, the circumnavigations of Anson and Dampier, the journey of Saussure to the Alps (1796-1803, 8 vols.) to name but a few.
As for continual provenance research, we are able to locate several volumes from the Fourqueux that are currently on the market: the Fourqueux copy of the aforementioned Saussure is currently on offer with Mssrs. Fabrice Teissedre (EUR 4000): our manuscript catalogue confirms the provenance, and the bespoke 8-volume set is listed on p. 49 (last line). Similarly, the Fourqueux copy of the Histoire de Charlemagne (4 vols., 1782), now with Au bon livre, is listed on p. 9 in the catalogue (line 2). A set of Mariveaux's Theatre in 7 vols. was sold at Christie's Paris on 24 June 2009, lot 27 (see page 6 of our manuscript, line 15: in fact 7 volumes contained the Oeuvres, 5 vols. + Comedies, 2 vols.). A copy of Sebastien Le Clerc's Pratique de la geometrie (1682) is listed in the Bibliotheque de Fourqueux catalogue on p. 53 (line 5); this same copy reappears at auction 188 years later when it was sold at Binoche Paris on 6 Nov. 2019, lot 100.
We find the catalogue to be of particular interest because it chronicles the migration of books in and around the chateau (and perhaps even out the door); judging from the profusion of annotations, the most heavily trafficked volumes were novels and other literature, and history. The catalogue gives evidence that while it was intact the Fourqueux library was no mausoleum.
The compiler undertook the laborious task of enumerating EVERY brochure in every literary / political / theatrical "Melange" (Sammelband). One rarely sees this level of detail in 19th century library catalogues, printed or manuscript. The Catalogue is very neatly written in five columns: author / title / number of volumes / Armoire / Tablette / range are all given. It would appear that the Catalogue was subsequently used as an inventory of sorts: to the right of most entries is a small "x" in pencil suggesting that the books were present and accounted for. There are notable exceptions, in which -- likewise in pencil -- we find the word "Manque" (missing). The most alarming absence of certain library materials is indicated on p. 54 (line 4): "Dictionnaire des arts et metiers." Was this the epic Diderot Encyclopedia? In the adjacent column there is no indication of the number of volumes that were present in 1831; where did they go? In the same hand, likewise in pencil, there are listings of newly acquired books which document the "real" interests of the 19th-century inhabitants of a French chateau.
Bio-bibliographical notices about Michel Bouvard de Fourqueux (1686-1754) and his namesake son (1719-1789) are given by Guigard, Nouvel armorial du bibliophile (pp. 87-88), stating that the former had amassed a "magnifique collection" which was greatly augmented by his son. referencing an 1789 sale of the library and cabinets. Guigard apparently did not know of the present manuscript, which clearly documents the hundreds of valuable books that were not sold until decades later. The last Seigneur of the Bouvard de Fourqueux family was Henri Raymond, Marquis de Monteynard (1811-1880). Devastated by the death of his 2-year-old son in 1837, and his wife Marie-Annie-Robertine Le Cornu de Baliviere shortly thereafter, in 1841 he gave instructions to sell the contents of the chateau, raze the castle itself, cut down all the trees, and then sell all the lands. The Fourqueux estate was eventually purchased by Armand Collin, goldsmith and watchmaker to the Imperial family, and by 1892 the strange and wonderful "Villa Collin de Fourqueux" was constructed in the place where the Chateau Fourqueux once stood.