The King of Poland’s copy of Turgot’s monumental plan of Paris

By [BRETEZ, Louis] and [TURGOT, Michel-Etienne], 1739 

Plan de Paris

Europe France
  • Author: [BRETEZ, Louis] and [TURGOT, Michel-Etienne]
  • Publication place: Paris
  • Publication date: 1739
  • Physical description: First edition, folio (560 by 450mm), folding key sheet, 20 double-page engraved maps, contemporary red morocco, richly gilt, bearing the arms of to the centre of the upper and lower boards.
  • Inventory reference: 2843

Notes

Turgot’s fine plan of Paris during the reign of Louis XV, which, if joined, would measure some 2360 by 2400mm.

In 1734 Michel-Étienne Turgot (1690–1751), Mayor of Paris, decided to promote the reputation of Paris to Parisian, provincial and foreign elites by implementing a new plan of the city. He asked Louis Bretez, a member of the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture, and professor of perspective, to draw up the plan of Paris and its suburbs.

Louis Bretez began his work in 1734, and was given permission by Turgot to enter all the mansions, houses and gardens in Paris, in order to gain accurate measurements and drawings. The endeavour would take two years.

Turgot depicts Paris in isometric projection, a slightly more scientifically rigourous example of the seventeenth century birds-eye view. This was somewhat against the grain of cartographic thinking at the time, with many cartographers abandoning the visually appeal birds-eye view, for the more scientifically accurate geometric plan.

In 1736, Claude Lucas, engraver of the Royal Academy of Sciences, engraved the 21 copper 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. 

Provenance

Stanisław I Leszczyński (1677–1766) was King of Poland, Duke of Lorraine and a count of the Holy Roman Empire. Born in Lwów in 1677, he was the son of Rafał Leszczyński, voivode of Poznań Voivodeship, and Anna Katarzyna Jabłonowska. He married Katarzyna Opalińska, by whom he had a daughter, Maria, who became Queen-Consort of France as wife of Louis XV.