BRUYN, Cornelis de. Voyage au Levant, …, Asie Mineure, dans les Isles de Chio, Rhodes, & Chypre &c…, Nouvelle édition…, par la Moscovie, en Perse, et aux Indes Orientales…, Rouen, Charles Ferrand, MDCCXXV [=1725].
The Flemish traveller and artist Cornelis de Bruyn (1652-1727) departed from the Hague in 1674 and journeyed through the East until 1693. On his second long journey between 1701 and 1708 he travelled to Persia and Moscow, finally reaching the East Indies. De Bruyn's chronicles are illustrated with hundreds of plates and have thus rightly earned the reputation of being two of the most beautiful travel accounts of all time. He made the drawings himself – “that was the chief aim of my travels”, he wrote – and also supervised the etching of the various views. His chronicle was first published in Flemish and the first French edition of this marvellous work came out in Delft in 1700. According to De Bruyn's own testimony, on his journey throughout the East he carried with him the travelogues of P. Della Valle, J. Thevenot, Ol. Dapper, J.J. Grelot and T. Smith.
He reached Smyrna from Sicily, visited Ephesus and continued on from Magnesia, finally arriving in Constantinople, where he stayed for a year and a half. He describes in his work not only the splendid capital, but also the coasts of the Bosporus. On 1 July 1680 he crossed the Dardanelles by boat. He described the Troy region and in February 1681 departed again from Smyrna, bound for Chios, where he stayed for some time. He called this island “paradise”.
De Bruyn then travelled in the Eastern Mediterranean, first to Cos and Rhodes, of which he gave a description, then to Egypt and from there to the Holy Land and Syria. On his return voyage he visited Cyprus.
The rich illustrations of his work made it extremely popular. De Bruyn is the first traveller to have depicted the interior of the pyramids in Egypt, Palmyra in Syria and Persepolis in Iran, as well as everyday “snapshots” of his journey.
This edition includes all of Le Bruyn’s travels. The first two volumes narrate his journey to the East and the following three his itinerary in Persia, India and Russia. In 1703, before continuing on to Ceylon and Java, Le Bruyn toured Persia. Of special interest from his journey in this land with its rich historical past are his descriptions of travelling conditions in those areas of Asia, festivals in Isfahan, the artistic tradition and more generally the mores and customs of the Persians, the history of the palace of Persepolis, which was burned down and looted by Alexander the Great, and the chapter on the kings who succeeded Alexander until Le Bruyn’s time. Le Bruyn returned home in 1708. The other text, "Extrait d’un Voyage par Mr. Des Mouceaux communiqué par Mr le Compte de Bonneval son neuve", relates a voyage which is highly interesting as well as rare for the era (1668), from the Holy Land and Syria by way of Cilicia and Asia Minor (Laodicea, Philadelphia, Sardis, Smyrna, Ephesus, Magnesia, Edremit, Pergamus, Troy, Bursa) to the Hellespont, and from there to Monemvasia and the Argolid, Piraeus, and Santorini. The first part of this itinerary (to Egypt, Mount Sinai and Arabia) as well as the illustrations accompanying the chronicle, were lost before this publication.
Written by Ioli Vingopoulou