Lévesque’s »Theory of agreeable sensations«, in a scarce private print from Geneva, 1743


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[Louis-Jean LÉVESQUE DE POUILLY]: RÉFLÉXIONS SUR LES SENTIMENS AGRÉABLES ET SUR LE PLAISIR ATTACHÉ A LA VERTU. With numerous pictorial or ornamental woodcut vignettes, initials frames and lines. Monbrillant: S.t. [private press of Jean Vincent Caperonier de Gauffécourt) 1743.

Small-8to. VII [1], 88 pages. Contemporary full mottled leather binding on 5 raised bands with gilt ornamental title incorporating floral themes, parts on spine label made of green morocco, as well as multicolour marbled end papers, red edges and and green ribbon bookmark.

First separate edition, and in the same time scarce private press print of this important essay on aesthetics and ethics in the tradition of Shaftesbury and Hutcheson, written by French philosopher Jean-Louis Lévesque de Pouilly.

Contents: The author was a friend and correspondent of Lord Bolingbroke during his exile in France, and presumably also influenced the young David Hume, who is said to have been the guest of Lévesque in 1734. - Lévesque's »Theory of agreeable sensations« was the first of only a few books printed by Jean-Vincent Caperonier de Gauffécourt, a watchmaker from Geneva, who was sympathetic to the Enlightenment and befriended with Rousseau and Diderot. Gauffécourt also was a bibliophile, and for a few years he ran a presse privée with attached bindery for his own library in Montbrillant (then named Monbrillant) near Geneva, of which present book was the first outcome.

Condition: Binding occasionally slightly scratched and worn, joints at top of spine broken, corners minimally bumped, rear end papers with one small fault, otherwise fine copy of this superb print on strong mould paper.

Rarity: According to Brunet only a small number of copies were printed. Due to their rarity the prints from Montbrillant were searched already in the early 19th ct., as stated in an article about Gauffécourt in the »Biographie Universelle« in 1838. ABPC, JBP, JAP and APO show no auction records at all since 1906 for this edition. OCLC/WorldCat, KVK and viaLibri Librairies locate only 8 copies worldwide in institutional holdings (BnF, BM Lyon, BM Reims, Swiss National Library, UL Geneva, Geneva City Lib., FB Gotha and Biblioteca dell'Accademia delle scienze, Torino).

References: Biographie Universelle, Ancienne et Moderne. Supplement. Vol. 65 (1838), p. 174f.; Brunet, Manuel, vol. 13 (1862), 1036 and Brunet, Recherches sur les imprimeries clandestines et particulières, 1879, p. 18-19 („...tirée à un petit nombre d'exemplaires...“); Cioranescu, vol. 2, 40221; Longchamp 1810.

Additional information

Weight 1 kg