Emblematum liber. Ipsa Emblemata ab auctore delineata: a Theodore de Bry scuplta, & nunc recens in lucem edita.Frankfurt, (Theodore de Bry), 1593

BOISSARD Jean Jacques (1593)


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Title within fine engraved architectural border, portrait of Boissard, large plate with Greek inscriptions, and 51 emblems by Johann Theodor de Bry.

4to (202 x 162mm). [8]ff (last blank), 103pp. 17th-century vellum over thin paste board, covers panelled in gilt with ornaments at each corner and central gilt stamps of Justice on front and Venus on lower covers, flat spine with gilt ornaments (now oxidised, ties missing, a few minor wormholes to joints).

First edition of Jean-Jaques Boissard's second emblem book and one of a number of collaborations between the French antiquarian Boissard (1528- 1602) and the Flemish designer and engraver Jean-Théodore de Bry (1561-1623).

Fairfax-Murray says of the engravings, "all the designs are of the human figure and not merely inanimate objects, and the background usually architectural, introducing views of castles, churches etc.". Alison Adams notes that they are "among the most complex and difficult to interpret of any emblem book". Drawing mostly on classical sources, the emblems symbolise human destiny, happiness and misfortune, virtues and vices. Boissard dedicates the work to Catherine de Heu, widow of Claude-Antoine de Vienne, Baron de Clervant, in French with a verse sonnet to her also in French on the following page. The seventh emblem is dedicated to her; among the other dedicatees is the cartographer Abraham Ortelius (no 17). 

"Boissard led a colourful life, much of the time travelling widely. Born in Besançon, as a young man he studied in Germany and the Low Countries, and later visited Italy and even Greece. He spent considerable time in the entourage of Cardinal Caraffa in Rome where he pursued his interest in archaeology. After 1560, he was based in Metz though travelling widely, since he was charged successively with the education of two of the sons of the Calvinist leader, the Baron de Clervant. This included a period in the university town of Padua, where he was at the time of the plague in 1576. Many people of his acquaintance died, and this, not surprisingly, seems to have affected him deeply. In 1583 he settled more permanently in Metz, and in 1587 he married Marie Aubry, the daughter of the printer with whom he had worked, Jean Aubry. Later, however, his publishing ventures brought him increasingly into contact with publishers in Germany, among them Theodore de Bry, the publisher of this edition." (Alison Adams, French Emblems at Glasgow).

Later editions would appear in French and German and this work should not be confused with his earlier emblem book produced at Metz in 1584 which contained 41 different emblems. 

Provenance: 17/18th Jesuit inscription at foot of title page. Bookplate inside front cover of the De Bry family with their motto, 'nul sans souci'.

Small neat repair to blank outer margin of title-page, a little marked and soiled in places but generally a good, fresh copy.

Praz 278. Landwehr German 133. VD16 B6457. Fairfax Murray German 84.  

Stock Code: 249870

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