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Plan de Paris (Plan of Paris): Michel-Etienne Turgot 1739

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  • Author: Michel-Etienne Turgot
  • Date: 1739
  • Condition: VG+
  • Inches: 1.5 x 19.5 x 24.75
  • Centimeters: 3.85 x 50.00 x 63.46
  • Product ID: 004252

The most beautiful, majestic and exquisite map of Paris from the 18th century. You have perhaps seen this map of Paris in a museum, boutique, or on a wall in a gracious home. If you have not, be prepared to have your breath taken away by the scale, scope and sheer size. Originally offered bound in an atlas (as it is here), the map can be unbound and joined to create a 10.5' by 8.5' wall map.

With plate marks clearly visible and hand printed on hand laid paper in Paris, 1739, this map is in remarkable condition for it's age. The binding is new, and the treatment is entirely sympathetic with the finest French binding of the 18th century. The binding was completed recently by one of the finest bindery's in the United States. This bindery specializes in period correct repair and replacement bindings for rare books and atlases.

The Turgot map was published in 1739 as an atlas of 20 non-overlapping sectional bird's eye view maps (at a scale of approximately 1/400) in isometric perspective toward the southeast. The atlas covers an area approximately corresponding to the first eleven of the modern-day arrondissements. Each sectional map is 50 cm high (only 48 cm in the first row) by 80 cm wide and consist of double facing sheets. If the sectional maps are assembled, the composite of 250.5 cm high x 322.5 cm wide.

In 1734, Turgot, chief of the municipality of Paris as provost of merchants, decided to promote the reputation of Paris for Parisian, Provincial and foreign elites by implementing a new map of the city. He asked Louis Bretez, member of the Royal Academy of painting and sculpture and professor of perspective, to draw up the plan of Paris and its suburbs.

By contract, Turgot requested a very faithful reproduction with great accuracy. Louis Bretez, was allowed to enter into every mansion, church, palace, house and garden in Paris in order to take precise measurements and create accurate renderings. His exacting method required two years to complete (1734-1736).

In the 18th century, the trend was to abandon portraits of cities (inherited from the Renaissance) for a geometric plan which is more modern, more technical and mathematical. The plan de Turgot countered this trend by choosing the system of perspective cavaliere: two buildings of the same size are represented by two drawings of the same size, whether the buildings are close or distant. The result is a view of Paris that is amazing detailed and faithful.

In 1736, Claude Lucas, engraver of the Royal Academy of Sciences, created the 21 sheets of the plan. The plan was published in 1739 and the prints were bound in volumes offered to the King, the members of the Academy, and the Municipality. Additional copies were to serve as representations of France to foreigners