The book, Recueil des figures, groupes, thermes, fontaines, vases, et autres ornemens tels qu’ils se voyent a present dans le Château et Parc de Versailles / / gravé d’apres les originaux par Simon Thomassin, graveur du Roy provides a comprehensive catalogue of the sculptures within the gardens at the Palace of Versailles. Authored and published by Simon Thomassin in 1694 in Paris this book is one of three copies held in the Cooper Hewitt National Design Library.
Prior to the publication of the book, Louis XIV established the Cabinet du Roi , a publication project including prominent engravers and print makers across France, with the goal of strengthening the French monarchy and aristocracy through communication. The group demonstrated the techniques and skills embodied by the Académie française. The Cabinet du Roi was replaced by Thomassin in 1689, who would produce the portable guide to the sculptures. Many of the engravings designed by Thomassin are reversed images of the works produced by members of the Cabinet du Roi several years earlier. Thomassin’s engravings offer a simplified rendering of the sculptures allowing the images to be reproduced easily for multiple publications.
Thomassin who trained at the French Academy in Rome begins the book by thanking the king for the opportunity to study the sculptures in the collection, and clarifying that the publication is intended for the enjoyment of the king and French aristocracy. The selection is followed by a brief list of the sculptures, each entry including the maker’s name and the medium, such as marble or bronze. The volume contains more than two hundred engravings depicting the works in the royal collection portraying themes from classical antiquity, exotic motifs, natural elements, and the seasons.
Erica M. Schaumberg is a graduate student in the History of Design and Curatorial Studies program offered jointly by Cooper Hewitt and Parsons School of Design. She is also a fellow at the Smithsonian National Design Library located in the Cooper Hewitt.