Le Cabinet du Roi. Paris : de l'Imprimerie Royale, 1723-1727. A FORMIDABLE PUBLISHING VENTURE TO THE GLORY OF LOUIS XIV AND THE FRENCH MONARCHY: LE CABINET DU ROI. AN EXCEPTIONAL COPY BOUND IN MIDNIGHT BLUE MOROCCO WITH THE ROYAL COAT OF ARMS: THE MOST COMPLETE AND DESIRABLE EVER OFFERED. The "Cabinet du Roi" refers to the orders for engraved plates placed during the reign of Louis XIV, and the works printed from these plates. A triumphal procession of paper, this undertaking was intended to celebrate the scientific advances, artistic achievements and military exploits of the monarch and his reign. Jean-Baptiste Colbert played a key role in this endeavor, understanding early on that "the print, as a work of art but also as a multiple signifier, had its rightful place in an ambitious cultural policy aimed at making the splendors of Louis XIV's reign known to the world and to posterity: through its impact, it was a perfect propaganda tool" (M. Grivel, Graver pour le roi, p. 21). To this end, nothing was left to chance: the best engravers, burinists and aquafortists were called in, only the finest paper and ink were used, and the copies were clad in gilded morocco, a departure from the formal austerity often favored by booksellers of the period. The Cabinet du roi is the leather and paper embodiment of the splendors of the reign of Louis XIV. Once printed and bound, copies were frequently offered to princes and great lords, ecclesiastics, magistrates, scholars and, of course, ambassadors, who, by virtue of their position, enabled the plates to be distributed to all the courts of Europe, and indeed the whole world, as far afield as Constantinople, Asia and Persia. During the 17th century, these thematically grouped plates were published in large folio volumes "covered in incarnate morocco". The logic of the "catalog" or "cabinet" was not yet present in the minds of the genial instigators of this formidable editorial and artistic enterprise. The end of Louis XIV's reign, marked by great financial difficulties, brought the distribution of engravings from the royal collections to a halt. The Sun King's light no longer shone so brightly. Nevertheless, successive guards of the king's library set about inventorying the stocks of prints and replenishing those that were missing, and increasing the collections. The Abbé de Louvois commissioned the purchase of some of Van der Meulen's plates and those of Les Batailles by Sébastien de Pontault de Beaulieu. During the Regency, Abbé Bignon, the King's librarian from 1719 onwards, completely rethought and re-edited what was henceforth known as the Cabinet du Roi. He eliminated the scientific and cartographic volumes, condensing palaces and houses, collections, festivals and royal conquests into 23 volumes. Starting in 1723, he had 50 copies printed on large eagle paper and published a catalog (reprinted in 1743). Of these 50 copies, no one knows how many have survived. It is certain that the copy presented here, comprising 21 of the 23 volumes, superbly bound in blue morocco with the royal coat of arms, is the finest and most desirable in private hands. 21 large folio volumes (625 x 450 mm). Illustrations: 794 engravings on 666 leaves. Contemporary binding, probably produced in the royal workshops: midnight-blue morocco, double framed in triple gilt fillet, gilt crowned numeral in the corners, royal coat of arms in the center of the boards, spine decorated with crowned numeral and fleur-de-lys, gilt lettering, gilt edges. I. [Tableaux du Roy. Representing seven subjects from the Old Testament, twenty-two from the New, five from Fable, one from Profane History and three allegorical]. First volume of the King's Cabinet. 35 engravings (of 38). III [Antique medallions]. Third volume of the King's Cabinet. 41 plates by La Boissière, numbered, 14 later handwritten explanatory notes. IV. [Plans, elevations and views of the chasteaux of the Louvre and Tuileries]. Fourth volume of the King's Cabinet. 40 engravings. V. [Plans, élévations et vûes du chasteaux de Versailles]. Fifth volume of the King's Cabinet. 29 engravings including "La Franche Comté conquise pour la seconde fois, 1674" by Simmoneau. VII. [Statues du Roy antiques et modernes à Versailles, engraved by Edelinck, Audran, Le Pautre, Chauveau, Mellan and Baudet]. Seventh volume of the King's Cabinet. 48 engravings. VIII. [Termes, bustes, sphinxes et vases du Roy, à Versailles, engraved by Le Pautre, Mellan, Baudet]. Eighth volume of the King's Cabinet. 51 engravings. IX. [Tapisseries du Roy, engraved after Le Brun by Sébastien Le Clerc]. Ninth volume of the King's Cabinet. 48 engravings.