Oblong quarto [23.7 x 33.5 cm], manuscript on paper, (40) ff. [with several blanks at end], illustrated with 20 watercolor and wash drawings, one signed J. Gastinne, a second H. de Nard, and a third Nivard Ed., all with facing text in manuscript. Bound in contemporary cloth, title gilt stamped on cover, spine and front joint damaged. Light waterstaining throughout.
French surveying manuscript with twenty delicate watercolor and wash illustrations, presenting solutions to a range of topographic problems. The detailed diagrams note the locations of the requisite graphometers and levels, and the accompanying text includes calculations and formulae. The book includes a range of practical exercises, such as measuring the gradation of a sloping lawn, the distance between two inaccessible lampposts on the far side of a river bank, the height of a flagpole. Some of the questions involve specific locations, many in the vicinity of Paris: a field at Saint-Cloud, the Seine at Auteuil, and a distant view of Montmartre from a boarding school terrace (signed Nivard Ed.). Two buildings are depicted in charming detail: a dilapidated fire station at Auteuil (signed H. de Nard), and the factory of a certain Javel (signed J. Gastinne), the latter in a setting complete with rowers, horse and cart, and a man with his dog.
The manuscript provides contemporary documentary evidence for several vanished structures: the Grenelle bridge across the Seine, which was built between 1825 and 1827 and required constant repairs to maintain its 6 arches. The diagram here presumably depicts the original form of the bridge, prior to the collapse of two arches in 1873. The author also depicts the Lantern of Diogenes, a monument dedicated to Diogenes of Sinope, a Greek philospher famous for having gone about Athens with a lantern in broad daylight looking in vain for an honest man. In addition to measuring the height of the monument, he calculates the angle between each of the trees surrounding the park. With the modest exception of some cedar trees, the Middle East figures only in the title stamped on the cover; perhaps it was executed during the hours of enforced leisure when the author was stationed in Lebanon as a remedy against homesickness?
A list of illustrations is available upon request.