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Eyewitness account of a 1570 diplomatic mission to the Ottoman court,
with 28 fine original colour drawings and samples of Turkish decorated paper

Memoires du voiage de Constantinople de Jacques de Bracle seigneur de Bassecourt.
[Various places, [1570 or very soon after]. 4to (main text & decorated paper) & 8vo (transcription & drawings) (21.5 x 14.5 cm). Manuscript in French, written in brown ink on paper in a Flemish bastarda gothic hand, with about 26 lines per page. With 8 contemporary half-sheet specimens of Turkish decorated "silhouette" paper (folded to make 16 leaves in 2 quires), a series of 28 drawings in brown ink and coloured gouaches, highlighted in gold (mostly costume figures, some showing the Sultan and other leading figures, others showing anonymous types from various ethnic and religious groups), plus a ca. 1800, transcript of the complete text and biography of the author (with his arms in colour). Modern sheepskin parchment. [2 blank], [34]; [5 blank], [62 incl. a few blank], [1 blank] pp. plus 8 double leaves of decorated paper and [36], [4 blank]; [2], [2 blank] pp. of 18th-century additions.
€ 180,000
A unique, fascinating and unpublished manuscript containing the account of a diplomatic mission to Constantinople in the Ottoman Empire in the year 1570. De Braeckle (1540-1571), a Flemish physician, assisted Charles Rijm (Karl Rym), Baron de Bellem (ca. 1533-1584), Maximilian II's ambassador to Constantinople, probably as his secretary. He wrote an account of his journey, which contains fascinating details about the places he visited, the manners and customs of the inhabitants, incidents, etc. Leaving Prague on 13 March 1570, the delegation passed through Vienna, Hungary and Czechoslovakia before entering Ottoman territory, where they visited the mosques and caravanserais (inns) of Sokollu Mehmed Pasha (ca. 1505-1579), Grand Vizier of Sultan Selim II (1524-1574) who ruled the Turks at the time of Rijm and Braeckle's journey. From 31 May to 12 August 1570 they stayed in Constantinople, where De Braeckle describes several monuments and works of art. He returned via Bulgaria, Serbia (the party was held in Belgrade for nearly a month) and Hungary, arriving on 23 October 1570. He died shortly afterwards, in 1571.
The set of 28 beautiful original drawings in pen, coloured gouaches and gold begins with a view of the caravanserai for the ambassadors to Constantinople, then shows mostly costume figures. Although similar illustrations were sometimes made for sale to travellers in Constantinople or passed on to western merchants, the inclusion of the delegation's caravanserai suggests this set was produced to illustrate Charles Rijm's diplomatic mission, described in the accompanying text.
Each of the 8 half-sheet specimens of Turkish decorated "silhouette" paper has four vertical rectangles in reddish brown in the centre (perhaps intended for two columns of written text on each page) and yellow-green plant silhouettes around the margins. Haemmerle shows a similar example in a book of Turkish costume drawings from ca. 1580, also with the silhouette paper folded to make two leaves.
Only three manuscript copies of the present travelogue are recorded, probably intended for members of De Braeckle's family. In very good condition. Stéphane Yerasimos, Les voyageurs dans l'Empire Ottoman (XIVe-XVIe siècles), (Ankara, 1991), pp. 286-187; nothing similar in Atabey; Blackmer; for the "silhouette" paper: Haemmerle, Buntpapier, pp. 39-41, fig. 25 illustrating a similar example from ca. 1580.
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