8vo [163 x 100 mm] of (8) ll., 216 pp. Night blue straight-grained morocco, gilt laurel wreath at the center of the covers, ribbed spine decorated with gilt fleurons, gilt inner border, gilt over marbled edges. Mercier Sr de Cuzin.
Very rare first edition of the love poems addressed by the poet to his mistress Nicole Estienne, daughter of the doctor Charles Estienne. He proposed to her but could never get her hand in marriage.
Barbier, IV, 2, n° 50 (Height : 153,5 mm) ; Tchemerzine, III, 495 ; Haag, V, 364 ; J. Pineaux, La Poésie des protestants de langue française, pp. 47-48 ; Picot, Catalogue… Rothschild, I, n° 710 ; Émile Paul, Bibliothèque… De Backer, I, n° 340 (« Plusieurs des sonnets de L’Olimpe valent les plus beaux du XVIe siècle », Height : 161 mm.)
This collection contains the sonnets addressed by the author to his reluctant mistress, followed by Jeux Olimpiques addressed to the same muse: odes, elegies and pastorals, the first of which is dedicated to Marguerite de France; in Gélodacrye the poet harshly criticizes the abuses of the clergy and the cupidity of the greats.
Jacques Grévin, was born in Clermont-en-Beauvais in 1538 and died in Turin in November 1570. He was a playwright and a poet, friend with Ramus, Du Bellay and Ronsard. During the last years of his life he became the doctor of Henri II of France’s sister, the duchess of Savoy. He died in her court at the age of 32.
With Jodelle, Jacques Grévin was one of the first playwrights to introduce tragedy in France. In 1561 he published Cesar, a tragedy imitated from a Latin original by Muret, as well as a comedy, Les Ebahis, his most famous work and, according to the Encyclopædia Britannica of 1911, ‘the most indecent’.
Grévin also composed poems appreciated by Ronsard until religion set them apart, Grévin being a partisan of the Reformation. After his conversion to Protestantism, Grévin split up with his friends from La Pleiade and he even attacked Ronsard in a pamphlet in verse called Le temple de Ronsard.
“L’Olimpe” is his masterpiece.
“Many sonnets in L’Olimpe rival with the most beautiful ones of the 16th century” (De Backer, Paris, 1926, i, n° 340).
L’Olimpe opens with a sonnet by Ronsard:
« A Phébus, mon Grévin, tu es du tout semblable
De face & de cheveux, & d’art & de sçavoir,
A tous deux dans le cueur Amour a faict avoir
Pour une belle Dame une playe incurable. »
Then come two sonnets, one by J. Du Bellay and one by Remy Belleau.
L’Olimpe, the only major collection of poetic works by Grévin, contains sonnets addressed to his reluctant mistress, Nicole Estienne, “16 year-old flower”, daughter of the doctor and printer Charles Estienne. Published when he was 22, it contains about a hundred sonnets celebrating his love and the perfections of the muse.
This volume is very rare and is missing from several great poetic collections such as the one from Viollet-le-Duc or Herpin and, according to the redactor of the catalogue La Roche Lacarelle it is “Jacques Grévin’s rarest work”.
Superb extremely wide-margined copy with a height of 163 mm whereas Barbier’s copy is 153 mm high and Backer’s fine copy is 161 mm.
Contemporary handwritten note by Nicole Estienne p. 40.