Sunday, June 24, 2012

Voyages en zigzag

In looking through some family books I found a large tome bound in green leather, its spine replete with ornate gold filigree. Inside its yellowing pages are beautiful engravings of the Alps in addition to many that document everyday 19th century life.

Voyages en zigzag : ou, Excursions d'un pensionnat en vacances dans les cantons suisses et sur le revers italien des Alpes, chronicles the voyages of a school teacher and his boarding school students on a number of 19th century voyages through Switzerland and Northern Italy. It is the first in a series written by Rodolphe Töpffer, a Swiss teacher, author, painter, cartoonist, and caricature artist. He is also considered to be the first modern comic creator.

Of its many beautiful examples I have scanned a small set of the engravings I found most interesting.

La Tour du Lépreux, Près d'Aoste

Le Simplon, entre Isella et Gondo


Rive de Meillerie


Le Roc perché

Voyages en zigzag was originally in the library of my great-great-great-grandfather, Edmond Alexandre de Freudenreich at the Château of Monnaz (VD) in Western Switzerland and was owned most recently by my great-aunt, Natalie de Büren.

On an interesting historical note, it appears that Töpffer's two travel volumes were the inspiration for American author and poet Hezekiah Butterworth's twelve volume Zig-Zag Journeys published in the 1870s.

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