the 'mahometan buonaparte'
DAVENPORT, W. (artist). Historical Portraiture of Leading Events in the Life of Ali Pacha, Vizier of Epirus, Surnamed the Lion, in a Series of Designs ... With a Biographical Sketch. London: Howlett and Brimmer for Thomas M'Lean, '1823' [but one plate watermarked 1825].
Folio (366 x 267mm). Original salmon-pink linen-covered boards, upper board with letterpress title-label; pp. [8 (half-title, imprint on verso, title, verso blank, list of plates, verso blank, preface, verso blank)], -30 (text), [2 (publisher's advertisement)]; 6 hand-coloured aquatint plates by G. Hunt after Davenport (one watermarked 'J. Whatman / 1825'), the first bound as a frontispiece; slightly rubbed and bumped at edges, upper board lightly marked, lower board more heavily ink-marked, hinges neatly reinforced, some light offsetting from plates onto text, some light browning and spotting, a few small marks, 2 plates with short marginal tears at gutter, one with small repair, otherwise a very good copy in the original cloth with bright and fresh colour.
First and only edition. This beautifully-illustrated work offers a romanticised account of the life of the Albanian-born Ali Pasha (1741-1822), the Turkish pasha of Iannina, who was given the epithet Aslan, or 'The Lion'. Following the death of Ali's father at the hands of neighbouring chiefs who seized his lands, his mother Khamko raised a band of brigands in order to reclaim the territories, which her son did through cunning and bloodthirsty strategies, before starting his rise to power within the Ottoman Empire, which saw him become one of the most powerful viziers in the empire. As the Middle East became the subject of European interest, Ali's political manoeuvring and powermongering brought him into alliances with the French, the British and the Italians, and further enlarged his territories. However, the threat of his power finally provoked the jealous Sultan Mahmud II to send his army to besiege Ali upon a pretext, and (after two years of resistance) Ali was killed as he attempted to negotiate terms. The Encyclopaedia Britannica sums up Ali's life and the legends that grew up around him thus: 'Ali Pasha is undoubtedly one of the most remarkable, as he is one of the most picturesque, figures in modern history; and as such he was recognized in his own day. His court at Iannina was the centre of a sort of barbarous culture, in which astrologers, alchemists and Greek poets played their part, and was often visited by travellers. Amongst others, Byron came, and has left a record of his impressions in " Childe Harold's Pilgrimage," less interesting and vivid than the prose accounts of Pouqueville, T. S. Hughes and William M. Leake [...] To the wild people over whom he ruled [no apology for his policies] was needed. He had their respect, if not their love; he is the hero of a thousand ballads; and his portrait still hangs among the ikons in the cottages of the Greek mountaineers. All accounts agree in describing him in later life as a man of handsome presence, with a venerable white beard, piercing black eyes and a benevolent cast of countenance, the effect of which was heightened in conversation by a voice of singular sweetness'.
The text of Historical Portraiture of Leading Events in the Life of Ali Pacha appears to have been derived from the first English edition of Alphonse de Beauchamp's Vie d'Ali-Pacha, visir de Janina, surnommé Aslan, ou Le Lion (Paris: 1822), which was translated anonymously as The Life of Ali Pacha of Janina, Vizier of Epirus (London: 1822), and complements the six remarkable coloured aquatints, which depict the following subjects: 'The Youthful Ali Bey, Shewn by his Mother to the Partisans and Vassals of his Father[']s House'; 'Ali Bey Discovers the Chest of Treasure, Near the Ruins of an Old Monastery in the Mountain'; 'The Vow of Vengeance, Made by Ali Pacha and his Sister Chaïnitza over the Dead Body of their Mother'; 'The Vizier Ali Pacha, Giving the Fatal Signal, for the Slaughter of the Gardikiotes Shut up in the Khan of Valiare'; 'The Delivery of the Broken Ring, to Ali Pacha's Faithful Slave in the Magazine of the Citadel'; and 'Ali Pacha and his Brave Officers, Resisting the Turkish Generals, Sent with the Death Firman to Demand the Vizier's Head'.
This copy is in the original binding of pink linen covered boards, with the original title label, which is similar to the binding on the Abbey copy (however, the Atabey copy was bound in the 'original beige-grey paper boards', so there is at least one variant binding), and one plate is watermarked with a date of '1825', which is the date on the plates of the Abbey copy.
Abbey, Travel, 206; Atabey 325; Blackmer 454 ('modern blue morocco gilt'); Prideaux p. 334; Tooley 179.