Beatae intactae semperis virgini mariae... [with:] Sacer Zodiacus

DE LEU Thomas (1610)



Engraved titles and 25 full-page plates (I: 13; II: 12) by Thomas De Leu (some signed), all hand-coloured with hand-painted black border, laid down on leaves of card.

2 works in one volume. 4to (260 x 180mm). [14]ff (of 18, lacking plates 7, 10, 16, 18); [13]ff. Limp vellum binding, with gilt crest on upper and lower covers, titles inked at head of spine, remains of four leather ties (vellum stained and bumped, wear in particular along fore-edge of upper cover). 

Paris, Thomas De Leu, 1610. 

An extraordinary collection of sumptuously coloured devotional engravings by the Paris-based, Flemish engraver and publisher Thomas de Leu (c. 1576-1614).

The strictly contemporary colouring is of the highest quality with the use of gold and deep shades of orange, purple, green and blue, gilt and silver highlights, and a dramatic use of black in both titles; the additional black painted borders provide the perfect frames for the images. The identity of the colourist here is unknown, however in Paris, as in other parts of Europe at this time, professional colourists were frequently female and often members of print publishing families (e.g. Dutch cartographic colourists Anna Beeck and Anna Ortelius in the Netherlands; there is also evidence of professional female colourists active in Germany). Although Griffiths concedes that it was not an exclusively female preserve, he states, “In most countries during the 17th- and 18th- centuries the top level of the colouring profession was dominated by women…”.

Comprising two works, the first begins with a fine architectural title-page followed by a series of large-scale scenes from the life of the Virgin, with two-line Latin legends at the foot, from designs by Flemish mannerist Jan van der Straet, and likely after Adriaen Colaerts’ engravings from van der Straet’s drawings (c.1589). The second is a calendar of religious holidays for each month of the year, after engravings by Leonard Gaultier published by Jean LeClerc (1603), following a stunning mannerist title, each plate has a primary scene in the foreground complimented by a number of smaller scenes in the background. The biblical scenes in the plates of the Zodiacus are a close copy of Gaultier’s but the text below is different, provided in both French and Latin four-line verses rather than French alone.

Provenance: The gilt arms on the upper and lower covers are those of the family of Richard de la Barollière, near Lyon (Olivier, pl.171) accompanied by the note ‘ex Bibliotheca Domini Barrolleriae’, dated 1618, on the front free endpaper; specifically, those of bibliophile Nicolas Richard (d.1634-5), titled landowner, representative of the royal treasury in Dauphiné, treasurer of the Aumone-Generale in Lyon, and secretary to the French crown. Ownership inscription ‘ex libris Thomae Graffart presbijteri 1703’ on front pastedown and at rear.

Two open tears to front free endpaper. Light scuffing to painted borders, extremities a little bumped.

For Beatae, Intactae... see Dumesnil, Le Peinture-Graveure Français, ou catalogue raisonne des estampes gravees... Vol. X (Paris, 1868), nos. 188-205. S. Dackerman, Painted Prints: The Revelation of Colour in Northern Renaissance and Baroque Engravings, Etchings and Woodcuts, Exhibition Catalogue (Penn State Press, 2002). Anthony Griffiths The Print Before Photography (2016), p. 147. OCLC: I. Only Dayton, Ohio, USA; II. Wurttemburg LB, Germany.

Stock Code: 228812

close zoom-in zoom-out close zoom