“In 1772, the abbot Chaudon publishes the ‘Bibliothèque d’un homme de goût’. The abbot de La Porte appropriates the work and publishes a new edition in 1777 under the title of ‘Nouvelle bibliothèque d’un homme de goût’. As in my youth, I had enlarged the 1777 edition, I offered M. Dessessarts in 1808 to take care of the redaction of an entirely revised edition of this same work. I successively published five volumes of it.” (Barbier, Dictionnaire des ouvrages anonymes, n°1741).
“This title of ‘Bibliothèque d’un homme de goût’ seemed so fortunate that three compilations of the same kind have been successively entitled likewise. The first one was published in 1772 in Avignon, in two small 12mo volumes. Five years later, the abbot de la Porte published the second one, in four volumes of the same size. The third one will have five 8vo volumes. I am not able to compare the three ‘Bibliothèques d’un homme de goût’; what is known, is that the last one is larger than the two others. We can also assume that the authors, especially one of whom is generally known to be a judicious spirit and an erudite bibliographer, will have corrected the mistakes of their predecessors, rectified their false judgment, filled in their omission, reconciled or made disappear their contradictions, removed their useless information, etc. […] The work had two big parts: poetry and prose. After some general considerations on each genre, the enumeration of the authors that have distinguished themselves is made in order of oldness; we analyze their works, we appreciate the merit of it and we mention the most valued editions… The name of M. Barbier sufficiently answers for the accuracy with which in general the bibliographic part has been dealt with. The work offers a precise and substantial result with a lot of positive knowledge, either in literature, or in bibliography; […] We can’t praise enough the authors for the reserve, benevolence and honesty tone with which they have expressed about those who cultivate today letters.” (Auger, Mercure de France, 1808, vol. 32, pp.535-540).
Antoine-Alexandre Barbier (1765-1825) was part in 1794 of the temporary commission of the arts and was in charge of collecting in suppressed convents and public institutions the books and other arts objects, in order to place them in government depots. In 1798, Barbier was appointed curator of the library he had formed for the French Directory, then after Brumaire 18th (2nd month of the French Revolutionary calendar), he was named librarian. In this final position, Napoléon then had several chances to appreciate his credit, and named him in 1807 his personal librarian. Barbier’s new functions brought him closer to the Emperor: he presented him, with detailed analysis, the best works published, or those that the authors had offered. We owe him the creation of the libraries of the Louvre, Compiegne and Fontainebleau.
“Since 1789, Barbier was in charge of gathering elements to complete the ‘Bibliothèque d’un homme de goût’. His works had made him a reputation in all Europe and the foreign bibliographers often used his insight.” (Michaux, Biographie universelle.)
“Man of taste and order well rooted in the debates of his time, Barbier and his ‘Bibliothèque idéal’ avoid the favors and rid themselves of the imperial preferences. Ardent defender of the Enlightenment, contributor of the Decade, Barbier appears as a man free to serve the Emperor, as to contest his choices.” (C. Triolaire, L’Empire des muses, Napoléon, les arts et les lettres, annales historiques de la Révolution française).
A beautiful copy preserved in its very elegant contemporary tree calf bindings.