One of the most impressive illustrated travel books in the Watkinson is by Abbe Jean-Claude-Richard de Saint Non (1721-1791), entitled Voyage pittoresque ou Description des royaumes de Naples et de Sicile (Paris, 1781-1786), bound in five folio volumes.

According to Gordon Ray, The Art of the French Illustrated Book, 1700-1914, “Saint-Non is one of the most engaging figures in the chronicle of the French illustrated book.  A small, almost frail man, he was often referred to as ‘little Saint-Non.’ Unaffected, modest, and amiable, his generosity was prodigal, and his loyalty proverbial.”

“Forced by his prominent and wealthy family to accept the priesthood as a suitable occupation for a younger son, Saint-Non was soon embarked on a significant career as an ecclesiastical official.  Early in life, however, he had acquired a taste for music, drawing, and above all engraving, and when his career met a political check in 1753, he turned his thoughts towards the encouragement of the arts.  Aided by the considerable fortune of his family, he became one of the notable amateurs of history.”

Saint-Non became adept at etching, and on his first visit to Italy in 1759, which overwhelmed his sensibilities with its grandeur, he began furiously sketching, engraving, and painting what he saw.  He toured Naples, Vesuvius, Herculaneum, and Pompeii with the painters Jean-Honore Fragonard and Hubert Robert, and eventually published a set of etchings containing 89 designs on 19 sheets [Suite de nix-feuille d’apres l’antique (Paris, 1762)], which we do NOT have in the Watkinson.  The subjects, as with some in the present work, are classical remains discovered in recent excavations.

Shown here is a view of Naples, and a plan of same.



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