# 40288


Croquis et Souvenirs d’un Artiste, ou détails les plus curieux d’un Voyage Autour du Monde.

$18,500.00 AUD

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Récreation instructive. Dédiée à la jeunesse par Chles. Letaille. Paris : chez les Principaux Mds. de nouveautés pour Etrennes et Cadeaux [Charles Letaille, 30 rue Saint-Jacques], [ca. 1855]. Original box of papered card, 265 x 200 x 30 mm, the lid with embossed gilt border and hand-coloured lithographic onlay depicting a New Zealand scene with Māori; the box contains [6] hand-coloured lithographic maps (Mappe-Monde; Océanie; Afrique; Asie; Amérique; Europe) printed on individual sheets, 180 x 250 mm, each with four cartouche illustrations of indigenous peoples in traditional costume; [10] hand-coloured lithographic shaped paper cut-outs, the largest 220 x 160 mm, depicting the (intentionally) headless figures of various indigenous peoples, identified by the original printed captions or printed paper labels on the versos and including Habitant de la Nouvelle Hollande (in fact, a Hawaiian), Danseur de la Nouvelle Zélande, Patagon, HottentotCafre, Chinois de Canton, Mexicain, Brésilien, Espagnol and Ecossais; [2] hand-coloured lithographic shaped paper cut-outs, both 210 x 80 mm, depicting a Nègre and a Boxeur Anglais, respectively, which the child was required to match with an appropriate headless costume to make it complete; single sheet of letterpress, 185 x 250 mm, with an Itinéraire (key) to the cartouche illustrations and cut-out costumes (recto) and the publisher Charles Letaille’s notice about the game and its intended uses (verso), stating that this is the third edition; and an accompanying publication, the third edition of Letaille’s Tableau Abrégé de l’Histoire des Voyages (Paris : Alexandre Gautier, ca. 1855), duodecimo, original papered boards with hand-coloured lithograph to front depicting Māori performing the traditional greeting, hongi, 124 pp. Condition: box lid with some minor staining and foxing; maps all in good condition (although the map of Africa has a stain to top margin); figures in good condition, albeit with a small number of expert repairs; publisher’s informational sheet and book both in good condition; note that the three small cut-outs designed as accessories to two of the headless figures, representing a Masque bouffon (ceremonial mask) of the New Zealand dancer (from other examples we know that this was in fact a Hawaiian gourd mask, makini), the Coiffure of the New Hollander, and a Casque (helmet) of the New Hollander (in fact, a Hawaiian feather helmet, mahiole) are lacking – otherwise, a complete and well-preserved example of the third edition of this game.

Rare mid-nineteenth-century French pedagogical game designed to introduce a young French audience to the subject of ethnography.

The maps and illustrations in Parisian publisher Charles Letaille’s beautifully produced game are based on examples from the great voyage books of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century.

A significant amount of the game’s content relates to Australia and the Pacific. The Oceania map features three vignette illustrations of Australian Aborigines after plates in John Heaviside Clark’s Field Sports of the Native Inhabitants of New South Wales, and a portrait of Pōmare I of Tahiti, after a plate in Grasset Saint-Sauveur’s Mœurs et coutumes de Polynésie. Two of the cut-out figures represent a Hawaiian and Māori, respectively. In addition, Letaille’s book includes a lengthy chapter on Oceania, including sections on Polynesian tattooing and greetings, and an abridged version of Arago’s narrative about the cannibals of Ombay.

On the game’s letterpress sheet, Letaille explains his approach thus: ‘By offering our young friends this new box game, our intention is not to do actual geography – that we leave to a stricter teacher. No, our aim is first to amuse the children with the hope that they can be manoeuvred into study later. Many instructive stories have already been told of other peoples with their different manners and costumes. So we took a trip around the world, aimlessly, without a definite plan, but stopping wherever there is something to see or to know; inquiring about everything with curiosity, seizing all the most singular and bizarre costumes, and composing one of those collections so curious and so justly appreciated for their originality, their appropriateness and above all their striking truth […] We have made a little man, bringing together in him the main types of the human race, the black man and the white man, who can wear all these different clothes without distorting them. Alternately Scottish and Hottentot, Mexican and Chinese, can be changed in both costume and colour, at the same time exercising the sagacity and skill of the one who does the dressing.’

In his book, Letaille provides a description of all of the world’s known regions with the exception of Europe, which was probably seen as too familiar to require any coverage. However, having enumerated in stereotypical terms some of the perceived undesirable characteristics of non-European peoples, such as cannibalism and indolence, Letaille concludes his introduction by concurring with a Chinese proverb, that says in order that we should all be happy, we should not stray from home.

The artist and publisher Charles Letaille (1815-1908) took over the long-established business of Pintard jeune at 30 rue Saint-Jacques, which had specialised in devotional prints. (Letaille was himself deeply pious and is known to have contributed one-third of his profits to the Catholic Church and the poor). At some point in the 1840s he branched out into the educational market, publishing books and games for children. The present game evolved out of a series of books with sepia plates that were designed to be cut out and used as displayable silhouettes, an idea inspired by the popularity of paper doll toys which had emerged in the 1830s. Letaille was extremely successful, and by 1860 was able to relocate from the Latin quarter to rue Garancière near the Jardin du Luxembourg. It appears that between this time and his retirement in 1876, however, his business moved out of educational books and games and reverted to the publication of exclusively religious material.