Paris: Pierre Didot, l'aine, 1799 [An VII]. First Edition. 4to., 300 x 220 mm. 2 ff., 83 pp., COMPLETE with 9 folding engraved plates (one loose, another with short tear), and with the "Projet d'arrete du département de la Seine sur les sepultures" (pp. -83) which is certainly not present in all copies. Original "temporary" drab boards; extremities worn, spine perished but boards quite intact (although quite foxed, text less so). Two sewing supports almost invisibly strengthened. Uncommon in commerce: ours appears to be the only copy on the market. Item #3717
VISIONARY FUNERARY LANDSCAPES AND MONUMENTS, a work now very little known; it preceded the establishment of Pere Lachaise (1804) which was the earliest of the spacious landscaped-style cemeteries. There are 9 folding engraved plates of which several recall the epic neo-classicism of Ledoux and Boullee, but more restrained: these designs were created for urban planners and politicians, not for the aggrandizement of the artist.
Jacques Cambry (1749-1807) was Administrator for the Department of the Seine who brilliantly combined his antiquarian interests various public works projects. In 1799, he was tasked with producing the present "Rapport." Whereas its original intention was as report for Parisian urban planners, it is now recognized as an influential philosophical and sociological statement. Here Cambry proposes visionary funerary landscapes and monuments which sympathetically memorialize the deceased Parisian citizens, while dealing in a practical manner with their remains: it was a place he called a "champ de repos," or field of rest.
Blanche M. G. Linden explains: "In 1799 administrator Jacques Cambry urged the department of the Seine to build a circular, pastoral funerary landscape designed by Jacques Molinos, architect and inspector of civil buildings. [In the present work] Cambry proposed a site in the Montmartre quarries north of the city. The Moilinos design permitted sinking private crypts on the site and construction of common catacomb-like ossuaries. The cemetery would include picturesque plantings and be crisscrossed by serpentine paths. A monumental pyramidal temple at the center, symbolic of the sacred mount or tomb, would contain a crematory and columbarium, or repository for urns. Molinos hoped that the rich would employ artists for their monuments, serving an added cultural function. Cambry’s long essay on funerary reform accompanying the design echoed ideas from the National Institute contest. Molinos and Cambry were not just public-spirited reformers but members of a company intent on developing and managing a thirty-year monopoly on a new municipal cemetery with crematory. The French, however, unlike the English and some Americans later, would not turn funerary reform over to entrepreneurs." (SOURCE: Silent City on a Hill, Amherst, 2007, p. 71).
Bookplate of Paul Lechevalier.