Oppenheim, Aere J.T. de Bry ; typis H. Galleri, 1617-18.
2 parts bound in 1 folio volume [300 x 193 mm] of: I/ 1 folding pl., 1 l. of title, 206 pp. including 1 double page plate and 8 full page pl., (6) pp.; II/ 788 pp., (10) pp., (1) bl.l, (1) l. bound between pp. 276 and 277, 35 full page plates and 4 on double-page, many woodcuts in the text. Old restoration to a tear without loss on the folding pl., discrete restoration in the inside margin of the 1st quire, 2 round stamps previously withdrawn on p. 1 damaging a few letters. Blind stamped pigskin over wooden boards, spine ribbed, red morocco lettering piece, metal clasps, blue edges. Contemporary binding.
First edition of Fludd’s master-piece, illustrated with superb engravings attributed to Jean Théodore de Bry.
Gardner, Bibl. Rosicruciana, 217; Houzeau & Lancaster, I, 2965-66; Duveen, Bibl. Alchemica, 222; Mellon 74; Yates, The Rosicrucian Enlightenment, p. 79-80.
The present volume gathers Fludd’s work which will be progressively published between 1617 and 1638.
“Fludd’s work is an encyclopaedia of all things regarded from an occult Rosicrucian point of view. The first part presents an illustrated history of creation, from the void through the process of distillation by which Fludd believes the world to have been created. The second tractate takes up occult mathematics, occult harmonics and music theory, occult theories of vision and optics, and even, at great length and with numerous plates, the occult theory of fortification and military strategy. Horology, cosmology, and astrology, as well as other occult disciplines, are also expounded. Fludd, most perfectly in this work and its sequel, presents in a fully orchestrated harmony, the Rosicrucian themes of the 17th century” (Alchemy: A Comprehensive Bibliography of the Manly P. Hall Collection, p. 80).
“Fludd was surnamed the searcher from his many researches into philosophy, medicine and mathematics ‘His books written in Latin are great, many and mystical and are for the English to sleight and admire, for French and foreigners to understand and use’ (Thomas Fuller).” (Lowndes)
“Extremely rare an very sought-after treatise of Robert Fludd’s Macrososm with many very beautiful and peculiar engravings by Jean Théodore de Bry” (Caillet, Manuel bibliographique des sciences psychiques ou occultes, 4042)
“The first volume contains a treatise on Arithmetic, and on Cossic Arithmetic, or Algebra. The arithmetic is rich in the description of numbers, the Boethian divisions of ratios, the musical system, and all that has any connexion with the numerical mysteries of the sixteenth century. The algebra is of the four rules only, referring for equations and other things to Stifeel and Recorde. The signs of addition and substraction are P and M with strokes drawn through them. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the algebra is that Fludd, who wrote it in France for the instruction of a Duke of Guise, should have known nothing of Vieta. The second volume is strong upon the hidden theological force of numbers”. (Morgan, Arithmetical books, pp. 35-36)
“‘Utriusque Cosmi…’ is probably the last great monument of Renaissance memory” (Yates).
“‘Utriusque cosmi É historia’ is copiously illustrated with remarkable mystical emblems representing relationships between man, the cosmos, and the godhead. It is very likely that Fludd himself was the draughtsman of these illustrations. Fludd’s originality lay in his revival of the fifteenth-century neoplatonism of Ficino and Pico and their sources in the corpus hermeticum, and his uniting of these with an alchemical account of the creation based on a literal reading of the book of Genesis. The major explanatory mechanism of the workings and order of the world is the parallel between macrocosm and microcosm. Fludd’s metaphysics postulates a complex and all-embracing correspondence between the world of spirits and the physical world; this entailed opposition to Copernicanism.” (Oxford, DNB).
The superb illustration is composed of several full-page and double-page plates, of many woodcuts in the text, as well as decorated initials.
It is thanks to the De Brys that Fludd’s works are recognized for their great quality of illustration. Renowned engravers and editors, the brothers Jean-Théodore and Jean-Israël de Bry will be assisted by their brother-in-law Mathieu Mérian who will notably engrave the frontispiece of the second work.
A superb copy preserved in its authentic contemporary blind-stamped pigskin binding.