BESSON, Jacques. Théâtre des instrumens Mathématiques & Mechaniques de Jaques Besson Dauphinois, docte Mathematicien. Avec l’interpretation des Figures d’iceluy, par François Beroald. Lyon, Barthélémy Vincent, 1578.
Folio [394 x 280 mm] (1) bl. l., (80) ll., (1) bl. l., waterstain on the top corner of several ll., little tear in plate 15 without loss, 1 leaf loose. Contemporary full limp vellum.
One of the earliest important illustrated treatises about mechanics and technology. Adams B 840 ; Brunet I-829 ; Brun p. 122. Harvard, French Books, 57 and 58 for the two other editions of 1578. Not in Fairfax-Murray.
In this work, precocious in time for such a topic, and published under another title in 1569, Jacques Besson wants to make an inventory of all the machines, instruments and inventions intended to revolutionize the Renaissance world of technologies: machines to turn wood on a lathe, to cut marble, to saw boles, trolleys and coaches, liquid coolers, machines removing stones from the ground, building piles, different kinds of mills, music instruments, ploughs, system on casters for transportation of loads, wheel or pulley systems, system to raise pylons, fire engine, system to raise water, ships and submarines launching, etc.
The obvious influence of Leonardo da Vinci on Renaissance France seems evident through the description of these different machines.
Bibliographers can’t establish with certainty the chronology of the 3 editions that were published simultaneously in Lyons by B. Vincent in 1578: one with the French text, the other with the Latin text, the third one with mixed languages; the present edition would be one of the 2 earliest editions.
The edition is illustrated with a very beautiful title showing two characters and the allegorical figure of geometry and with 60 outstanding copper-engravings after Androuet du Cerceau’s drawings. These engravings were taken from the 1569 illustration. Plates 17, 35, 39 and 51 have been engraved again by R. Boyvin and bear his monogram. Each engraving comprises a Latin caption.
The Latin text written by François Béroalde de Verville, who will work later on the « Hypnérotomachie », appears here for the first time. The text alternating roman and italic characters is decorated with beautiful historiated capital letters, grotesque borders and tail-pieces.
A very charming copy of a remarkably illustrated scientific work in genuine condition.