Les Poésies d'Anacréon de Theos & celles de Sapho...& Autres Poésies tirées de différents Auteurs, nouvellement traduites... par Le S.I.B.F.C.D.D.M.[France] 1761.

ANACREON  (1761)



Stencilled borders and ornaments in red and brown ink throughout, with additional details inked by hand. 

Manuscript on paper. 4to (205 x 155mm). 193 leaves, numbered thus: [xiv],1-67, 67bis-68, 68bis-131, 138-210pp, [1]f, [xliv (last blank)], 213-326pp, [3 (blank)]ff. Contemporary mottled calf with triple fillet in gilt on covers, spine richly gilt in compartments with red morocco label, title lettered in gilt, marbled edges (joints expertly restored).



A beautifully written and illustrated manuscript volume of unpublished translations, in French, of the works of Anacreon, Sappho and other Greek writers, with highly unusual stencilled illustrations. Titles for each section are enclosed in crisp, elaborately stencilled borders of floral ornament and flourishes in red ink. Intricate floral vignettes end each section and small, geometric and arabesque ornaments in red and brown ink are littered throughout.  

To find stencilling of this type and to this extent in a secular work is unusual. In Europe, especially in France at this time, stencilling was used predominantly for liturgical texts, although ‘letter-makers’ did trade in Paris in the later eighteenth century: the Malo father and son of Paris advertised as ’faiseurs de caractères’; Benjamin Franklin ordered a brass stencil set from maker Jean Gabriel Bery in 1781, which included border-pieces and ornaments. Borders like those found on the title pages here would likely have been constructed from four individual stencils. We have found only one other example that employs similar stencils and in an almost identical hand, produced for Madame de Pompadour.

The text of this manuscript is as scholarly as the illustration is visually striking. The translations are accompanied by extensive commentary in French, and meticulously referenced. Amongst those named here are: Anne Dacier (1647-1720), scholar and translator, whose edition of the works of Anacreon and Sappho appeared in 1681; her father, classical scholar Tanneguy Lefebvre (1615-72); Hilaire Bernard de Longepierre (1659-1721), playwright, who translated the odes of Anacreon into French verse in 1684; Bernard le Bouyer de Fontenelle (1656-1757), author and translator; William Baxter (1650-1723) whose Latin translation of Anacreon was published in 1695; Joshua Barnes, Regius Professor of Greek at Cambridge and author of another significant edition of Anacreon in 1705; and Italian orientalist Antonio Zanolini (1693-1762). These, and repeated references to the first published edition of Anacreon’s works by Henri Estienne, are interspersed with the anonymous writer’s responses to accepted scholarship, reflections on their own translations, and responses to the poetry itself: ‘quelle discretion! quelle finesse!'.

Provenance: 1. Dedication to ‘J.J. Hoeufft’ of Breda, signed Marion (?), likely Jacob Henrik Hoeufft (1756-1843), in whose library this volume is recorded in the auction catalogue of the sale in 1844; Hoeufft was known for his translation of Anacreon’s works into Dutch in 1816. 2. Bookplate of Scottish physicist Sir Andrew Noble(1831-1915) on front pastedown. 3. Bookplate of Theo L. De Vinne, typography historian, below 4. presentation label from De Vinne to American author of children’s books, ’Mrs M.M. Dodge' (1831-1905).

E. Kindel, ‘Fit to be Seen: Stencils for Architects, Engineers and Surveyors’, AA Files, 61, pp. 100-109 (with thanks to Eric Kindel for his advice on this subject). C. Francois, ’Les Écritures Realises au Pochoir’, in Yves Perrousseaux, Histoire de l’Écriture Typographique Le XVIIIe siècle (Vol. II, Italy, 2010), pp.139–160.

Stock Code: 232066

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