[SOLNTSEV, Fedor Grigor'ev (1801-1892, illustrator) and STROGANOV, Sergei Grigor'evich, Count (1794-1882, editor). Antiquités de l'empire de Russie editees par order de sa Majeste LEmpereur Nicolas I[Drevnosti Rossiiskago Gosudarstva]. [Moscow: A. Semen, 1849-1853.]

Atlas volumes of thefirst major publication on early works of art in Russia, and one of the most sumptuous color-plate books of its time, from the library of the 4thDuke of Newcastle-under-Lyme. The fine plates, by Dreger after Solntsev, are superb examples of Russian lithography at its best. They document many aspects of Russian culture through its artifacts, with over 500 illustrations after Solntsev of costume, icons, crowns, weapons, jewellery and architectural motifs. It is an influential work which was intended to showcase Russian art as an equal to the other great European traditions. The eminent art historian Vladimir Vasilevich Stasov remarked that “our contemporary Russian style is based on the drawings of Solntsev.” The work was commissioned by Nicholas I, to which he allocated one thousand gold roubles at the instigation of Aleksei Nikolaevich Olenin, President of the Academy of Arts and Director of the Public Library. Its publication was supervised by Count Stroganov, president of the Society of Russian History and Antiquity for more than four decades, with the assistance of Mikhail Zagoskin, Ivan Snegirev, and Aleksandr Velt'man. Only 600 sets were published, and just thirty years after publication Solntsev noted that the volumes were very rare. Colas 138; Fekula 6194 ("printed in a small tirage and is rare complete").

Six volumes in four, folio (512 x 375mm). First volume with additional title in French, the others in Russian; 508 chromolithographed plates, many heightened in gold (some spotting). Red morocco gilt by Riviere with Henry Pelham’s arms gilt at the center of the boards (light wear at extremities). Provenance: Henry Pelham Fiennes Pelham-Clinton, 4th Duke of Newcastle-under-Lyme (1785-1851; binding).
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