Scarce Pair of Hand-coloured Engravings of Japanese Figures from ‘La Galerie Agréable Du Monde’, Published by Pieter Van Der Aa, 1729

Engraving: 35x42cm; Frame: 60x53
Oversize/Overweight Parcel
£ 250
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Plates 26 and 27 from ‘La Galerie Agréable du Monde’, an important publication in 66 parts which covered the topography and people of Europe, Asia, Africa and America. Published by Pieter Van Der Aa in 1729, it is said to have been the costliest and most complete universal geographic work ever produced, with only 100 copies ever printed.
These two plates depict a series of Japanese ladies and men. They come from the Second Volume of East Indies; Japan and the Land of Eso/Hokkaido. At the time of publication, Japan had been a ‘closed country’ for ninety years and trade was restricted to the Chinese and the Dutch. The Dutch East India Company was limited to the factory at Deshima and traders were not permitted to leave the island, except during the annual procession of the factor (chief agent) to pay homage to the sh?gun. Reports of these processions reached Europe through accounts such as Kaempfer’s History of Japan.
Van der Aa took his illustrations of the Japanese from ‘Gedenkwaerdige gesantschappen der Oost-Indische Maatschappy in ‘t Vereenigde Nederland, aan de Kaisaren van Japan‘ by Arnoldus Montanus, printed in 1669. The decorative border was printed separately and is typical of van der Aa’s work.
The engravings are in excellent condition with no foxing or issues. There is an original fold line down the centre. They were hand coloured after publication and have been sympathetically framed in a contrasting green mount and gilt wood frame.
Plate 26 contains four vignettes, bordered by decorative frames. They include: ‘Riche habit des grands Seigneurs & Demoiselles au Japon – Magnificence nonpareille d’un Secretaire d’Etat japonois suivi de ses laquais – Habit Somptueux des Chevaliers du Japon – Contenance fiere d’un Gentilhomme Japonois avec ses laquais en donnant audience (Rich costume of the lords and ladies of Japan – unparalleled magnificence of a Japanese Secretary of State followed by his lackeys - sumptuous costume of knights of Japan – proud countenance of a gentleman of Japan with his lackeys giving audience).
Plate 27: ‘Habit somptueux d‘une Demoiselle Noble du Japon - Habit riche magnifique des Dames Nobles Japonoises - Demoiselle Noble Japonoise avec son train magnifique - Chariots splendides pour le divertissement des Demoiselles Japonoises.‘ (The sumptuous costume of a noble Japanese woman - The magnificent costumes of noble Japanese women - Noble Japanese Lady and her court - Chariot with a Japanese Lady.)
When Pieter van der Aa (1659-1733) published his Galérie agréable de monde in 1729, he was at the end of a long and distinguished publishing career. He began in 1683 as a Latin trade publisher, publishing classical texts on medicine and science. As he progressed, he began to publish atlases and maps, compiling numerous multi-volume collections of works. He fulfilled his ambition to become Leiden‘s most famous printer in 1715 when he was appointed head printer for the city and its university.