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LE BRUN, Charles. Grand Escalier du Château de Versailles, Dit Escalier des Ambassadeurs. Paris: Louis Surugue, . Slim atlas folio (16 by 21-1/2 inches), early 19th-century half green calf gilt, marbled boards, vellum corners. $3800. Early 18th-century compilation of this magnificent plate book, documenting Le Brun's grand staircase at Versailles, comprised of an engraved title page, nine engraved plates of description and 24 large folio engravings (six double-page) of Le Brun's intricate interior decorations. Called by Louis XIV "the greatest French artist of all time," Charles Le Brun enjoyed hundreds of commissions from the wealthy elite. As First Painter to the King, he was appointed director of Gobelins, a former tapestry manufactory, taken over by the King in 1664 and renamed the Royal Factory of Furniture to the Crown. At Gobelins Le Brun assembled the best artists—painters, sculptors, gilders, casters, weavers, and smiths—who decorated the King's Palaces, the Louvre, the Gallery of Apollo, Versailles, the Tuileries, the King's carriages and even the ships of the Navy. Everything that was manufactured at Gobelins was based on Le Brun's sketches and drawings. It is said that "No art in the 17th century remained untouched by LeBrun." This wonderful documentation of Le Brun's monumental grand staircase at Versailles shows what a great artistic project it was—with painted vaults, niches, frescos, statues and medallions—all depicting events of Louis XIV's reign. Engravings of the grand staircase first appeared shortly after its completion in 1679, as part of the famous Cabinet du Roi, an idea conceived by the King in about 1670 of putting on record, by the medium of engraving, the monuments of his country, his gardens, his palaces and the treasures they contained. The King's Engraver Charles Louis Simonneau was the designer of the Cabinet du Roi. From 1670 onward into the 18th century, selections of these engravings were restruck and bound up in special volumes as gifts to visiting dignitaries. In order to offset the expense of these productions, separate restrikes were also offered for sale, and in 1727 the first complete set of the Cabinet du Roi engravings appeared in 23 volumes, with additional plates and a catalogue. The plates in the fifth volume of that set related to the interior decoration of the Château Versailles—from which this selection of 24 plates was compiled. Many of these wonderful plates are dated 1720, 1721 and 1725, and Plate 24 may date as early as 1695. The principal engravers, Jean-Michel Chevotet and Louis Surugue, also produced the plates for Jean-Baptiste de Monicart's Versailles Immortalisé (1720-1725). Text in French. Brunet III, 910. Graesse IV, 136. See also Brunet, I, 1442-43. Decorative plates fine, marginal dampstains to descriptive plates (just touching lettering); rubbing to boards, expert restoration to spine. An extremely good copy with magnificent folio plates in fine condition. N° de réf. du libraire 74527