Lyon, Jean de Tournes, 1560.
4to [230 x 152 mm] of (1) bl.l., 666 pp., (5) ll. for the privilege, the printer’s stamp, the errata, (1) bl.l. Bound in full contemporary overlapping ivory vellum, large blind-stamped medallion on the center of the covers, flat spine with the handwritten title at the top and the date at the foot, cloth ties. Contemporary binding.
First complete French edition of this poetical translation of the Aeneid made at the request of the cardinal de Lorraine by Louis Desmasures, his protégé. Brunet, V, 1301; Cartier, De Tournes, 467; Mortimer, Harvard French, 540; Brun, Le livre français illustré, 312.
The poet had stayed at the court of Francis I of France and had been successively influenced by the Renaissance and the Reformation to which he should secretly adhere. He dedicates his translation to Prince Charles, duke of Lorraine.
Before the dedication there is a poem by Du Bellay praising this French version of the Aeneid: « Autant comme lon peult en un autre langage Une langue exprimer, autant que la nature, Par l’art se peut monstrer, & que par la peinture On peult tirer au vif un naturel visage ; Autant exprimes-tu, & encor d’avantage Avecques le pinceau de ta docte escriture La grâce, la façon, le port & la stature, De celuy qui d’Enée ha descrit le voyage. Ceste même candeur, cette grâce divine, Ceste mesure douceur & majesté latine Qu’en ton Virgile on void, c’est celle mesme encore, Qui Françoise se rend par ta celeste veine… »
Very beautiful edition, admirably printed in italics, with the Latin text in the margin, on the opposite page, in smaller italics. The title is decorated with the large frame surrounded by arabesques that de Tournes had initiated with Xenophon’s “Cyropaedia”.
The superb iconography is composed of 12 magnificent woodcuts (108 x 72 mm), attributed to Bernard Salomon and whose “prestigious style” is stressed out by bibliographers. The 1552 first edition included 4 of these 12 engravings; 8 of them are thus published here for the first time in first state.
The magnificently drawn scenes, the elegance of the compositions, the harmony of the attitudes, the extreme delicacy and the finish of the details show the dexterity of this great artist who would put a decisive mark on the history of illustration and ornamentation of the books in the French 16th century.
“At the top of each book, very beautiful woodcuts prestigiously crafted”. (Brun).
Numerous initials on backgrounds with dots, in two dimensions (42 x 40 mm; 28 x 28 mm) complete the ornamentation. The copy encloses the 2 additional errata leaves, not mentioned by Cartier.
A very beautiful copy preserved in its contemporary decorated overlapping vellum, of this fine poetical compilation, very evocative of the illustrated French 16th century.
Provenance: Lorenzo Novello with his signature dated 1564, W. Lambard and Thomas Lambard with their signatures.