[Augsburg, o.J., um 1710].
Folio [350 x 225 mm] of 50 plates including the frontispiece, restorations in the margins of plates 37 and 50.
Contemporary stiff vellum, flat spine with handwritten title. Endpapers renewed but the copy is really preserved in its contemporary binding.
Precious and very rare first complete edition of one of the best German illustrated books of the baroque period, in the rococo style, printed in Augsburg about 1710, inspired by Jacques Callot’s Gobbi (1592-1635).
Catalogue Lipperheide, 3548.
The Gobbi, executed in 1620-1621, consist of a 21-plates set (including the title plate), of about 9 x 6 cm, engraved on the basis of drawings made in Florence in 1616, and inspired by hunchbacks who were chosen to entertain the Great Duke Cosimo II de Medici.
The present work, entitled « Il Callotto », in reference to Jacques Callot, is illustrated with an engraved and colored title and with 49 contemporary hand-colored copper-engravings, each one put in an engraved frame later colored, of a series of 12 different models.
Central engravings and framings caricature and mock the various social classes, the captions sometimes mixing French and German languages.
« These dwarfs are the descendants of Bosch and Brueghel’s monsters. Their deformity is used to mock the various social classes.
The author is becoming Rabelaisian (and Brueghelian) because he uses grotesque to serve a serious statement. Caricature and fantasy help him to express certain secret thoughts. The hunchbacked dwarfs are relatives to buffoons painted by Velasquez. Some might be caricatured portraits. Everyone is a type. Some comedians can be found. But the other social categories are also represented.
Important, candied, fat, a good bourgeois with his hypocritical face confidently goes, his cane in his hand. Carrying their pride in their hump, several lords walk with their sword on their side. A drunkard with a big belly and a cherubic face joyfully raises his glass, as this one bent over his cane, with a lobster-look. Here come the captains, loudmouths, large boots, big sword, small brain, which draw their weapon to gut everyone. »
The first edition of this famous and rare German illustrated album, printed in Augsburg in 1710, is known under the name « Die erste Ausgabe des berühmten Zwergenkabinetts ». Its oddness makes it the masterpiece of Rococo style copper-engraving and it launched the fashion of « Zwergenmode » in the 18th century.
Meissen porcelain manufactures, the architecture and the decoration of Rococo gardens and of many other German art objects drew their inspiration from the decoration and the characters of this Augsburg set.