Recueil de Figures, Concernant la Guerre. [Collection of Plates concerning Warfare].

ENJOBERT DE MARTILIAT Joachim attrib.; HEROUVILLE DE CLAYE Antoine de Ricouart, Comte de bound for


Manuscript written in French on polished paper. With 173 delicately drawn plates of Chinese arms and armour with annotations in French as well as occasional Chinese characters together with their romanisations and translation. Large 8vo. measuring 22x17cm. Bound in contemporary full French armorial red morocco, the arms in a central oval, covers finely gilt with ornaments repeating the armorial charges of a sun and lion, all edges gilt, green silk endpapers. Some minor rubbing to binding, old shelf labels, the rear endpaper with deaccession stamp (dated: August 17, 2004) of the Austrian National Library. 217 ff. (incl. title leaf and 82(text)pp.).  [Paris], n.d. [but middle of the 18th century]. 

Manuscript of the highest quality prepared for the collection of Antoine de Ricouart de Claye (1713-1782), Count of Hérouville, a Lieutenant General of the French Royal Army (Armées du Roi). Herouville de Claye was both a high-ranking military man - he commanded the Régiment de Hainaut during the campaigns in Picardie, and Flanders - but also an entrepreneur and a scholar formed by the ideas of Enlightenment. He organised the dredging the marshes near Les Moëres in Flanders, and became a pioneer of coal-mining - being amongst the first to use a steam-engine to lower ground-water levels. He was also the co-founder of the Société Royale d’Agriculturein Paris, and contributed to a variety of scientific publications, including the l’Encyclopédie méthodique(published 1782 onwards). Prior to his death, he was working on a general history of warfare, and it is likely that the present volume was intended for this purpose.

During the 18th century, France was a leading force in the field of Chinese Studies, largely as a result of the accounts by French Jesuits who were active at the Qing court. Henri Bertin (1720-92), the Comptroller of Finances under Louis XV, ordered the compilation of the famous ‘Mémoires concernant l’histoire, les sciences, les arts, les moeurs, les usages… des Chinois… par les Missionnaires de Pekin’published between 1776-1814 which ran to 17 volumes (see item below). The French Jesuit Joseph Amiot (1718-94) who had been living in China since 1750 and had become an advisor and astronomer at the Qianlong Emperor’s court in Peking, was a regular correspondent with Bertin and became a chief contributor to the Mémoires. He wrote the first Western work on Chinese military tactics and weaponry entitled ‘Art Militaire des Chinois’which was first published in 1772 and is included again as vol. VII of the Mémoires.

According to the preface to the Recueil de Figures, the present manuscript is based on Chinese Ming Dynasty encyclopaedia, written by ‘Wan Khi’ and his second son. “Ce recüeil est tiré d’un ouvrage Chinois intitulé collection generale des figures, sur tout ce qui rapport au ciel, a la terre, & a l’homme.” This the title of the Sancai Tuhui “Pictorial Compendium of the Three Realms”, an illustrated encyclopaedia that was compiled by Wang Qi (1530-1615) and his son Wang Siyi (dates unknown). The preface goes on to give details of the content and format of the encyclopaedia, the arrangement of subjects and the general content and explains that the translation and the images are all taken from chapters six, seven and eight of the 12 vol. section relating to arts and instruments (qi-yong), which relate to warfare.

The present work is nothing less than a dossier of all military matters in China: The plates open with detailed depictions of armour, a mounted battering ram, chariots, spears, axes, swords, banners, bows & arrows, crossbows in various sizes and configurations, catapults, as well as various types of exploding devices and rockets using gun-powder, a cannon, a blunderbuss, ladders for climbing walls etc. Every plate carries two references in the top margin: On the left-hand side are consecutive numbers which correspond to the notes in the front of the book, while the numbers on the right refer to the volume and page number in the Sancai Tuhui. Every plate has a French caption and many give the Chinese name in the romanised form sometimes even including the Chinese characters. A set of the 1609 Sancai Tuhui(San-thsai-thou-hoei) is listed as being in the ‘Bibliotheque du Roi’(see: Notices et extraits des manuscrits de la Bibliothèque du Roi ...vol. 11. Paris 1827, p. 130ff.) and it is likely that the author of our copy had access to it.

Curiously, no author is mentioned in book but there can be no doubt that whoever produced this volume must have achieved great fluency in Chinese in order to translate this late Ming dynasty text. The Chinese characters are written in a Western hand of considerable experience. The chief Sinologist in France at the time was Joseph de Guignes (1721-1800) but there is no evidence that he was able to translate large portions of Classical Chinese. He was however, the editor of Joseph Amiot’s ‘Art Militaire des Chinois’ (Paris, 1772) and would have corresponded with Amiot either directly or through Henri Bertin. Unfortunately, Amiot does not mention the Sancai Tuhuiin his Art Militaire or the supplement. And while some of its illustrations bear strong resemblance to ours, they are not identical, nor is the accompanying text.

However, there is a small piece of information that points in another direction: A work with an identical title is mentioned in the ‘Catalogue du livres imprimés, des manuscrits, et ouvrages chinois… composant la bibliotheque de Feu M. Klaproth’(Paris, 1839), item 161 describes a group of memoirs, notes & extracts “sur l’Art militaire, traduits de Chinois en francais par differens missionaires et par Deguignes le pere” and goes on to say: “Among these pieces we note the following: Mémoire sur l’art militaireby the bishop of Erinée (‘l’eveque d’Enrinée’) - Extracts from the treatise on war titled Vou kingby the same - Notices relating to the Paocanon taken from various dictionaries and several books with many important notes for the history of artillery in China - Extracts from Pen thsaoon nitre and saltpetre - Explanation of the eight battle orders translated from the San thsaï thou hoeï. Recueil de figures concernant la guerre(explanatory text) – etc. etc.” The same title turns up again in the Bulletin de la Librairie Damascène Morgand, vol. 3, no 18, 1885, item 10620, and is described thus: “Tre beau manuscript ecrit avec beaucoup de soin a Bordeaux, vers 1757 par M. de Larothiere. Comme dans le manuscript au no. precedent le texte ecrit sur papier de riz… Ces figures e leur explication sont tirées d'un ouvrage chinois composé a la fin de XVIe siecle par Wan-khi et son fils Wang-Ssy.  Cet ouvrage traite le toutes de sciences, M. L'Evesque de Ecrinée n'en a traduit que ce qui se rapporte a la science militaire. Très-riche reliure aux armes du comte d'Herouville.” [A beautiful manuscript written with great care in Bordeaux, around 1757 by M. de Larothiere… These plates and their explanation are taken from a Chinese work composed at the end of the 16th century by Wan-khi and his son Wang-Ssy. This work deals with all of the sciences, M. L'Evesque de Ecrinée only translated that which relates to military science Very rich binding with the arms of the Comte d'Herouville.].

The Bishop d’Ecrinée is no other than Joachim Engobert de Martiliat (1706-1755), who was ordained Bishop of Echinus in 1741. Martiliat was born into a noble family in Clermont-Ferrand. In 1727 he entered the seminary of the Societé des Missions Etrangères. He left for Canton in the same year and commenced his studies of Chinese language and culture. In 1731 he secretly travelled to Sichuan province where he worked as a missionary for ten years. He was arrested in 1740, released, but had to flee to Macao in 1746 due to the escalating persecution of Christians. He returned to Paris in the following year and received an audience with King Louis XV. We can only assume that it was on this occasion that he was asked to translate to passages of the Sancai Tuhui. According to the Librairie Morgand Bulletin, the notes were then copied for the use of Herouville de Claye in 1757 by lieutenant De Larothiere (dates unknown), a grenadier of an infantry regiment in Bourgogne. It is fascinating to observe that this translation predates the work by Amiot by about two decades.

Provenance: Comte de Herouville de Claye – Klaproth – ex-libris of François-Eugène-Désiré Ruggieri (pyro-technician, his library was sold between 1873-1886) – Librairie D. Morgand (Bulletin No. 18, Dec. 1885, no. 10620) - Baroness Clarisse von Rothschild - Öster. National-Bibliothek -  Nancy Hoguet Tilghman.

Stock Code: 243401

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