This paper delves into the life and career of Jean-Étienne Despréaux (1748-1820), as read through a catalogue of his library. The catalogue, the earliest known detailed record of books owned by a dancing master, was printed after Despréaux’s death to announce the sale of his library in a 3-day auction. It reveals Despréaux’s wide-ranging reading interests and his desire to build a comprehensive collection of books about dance—a collection that would anticipate the modern notion of a canon of historical dance monuments. The most interesting book in the collection is a copy of the 1589 edition of Thoineau Arbeau’s Orchésographie. This book, which was annotated by Despréaux, tells a fascinating tale of its journey from Despréaux’s library to its current resting place in the library of Nederlands Muziek Instituut in the Hague.
Bourassa, Dominique, "Jean-Étienne Despréaux, Bibliophile" (2019). Library Staff Publications. 11.