An Enormous Set, with More than 200 Plates, Printed on the Most Deluxe Paper, Luxuriously Bound by Padeloup le Jeune, and Owned by the Richest Man in Europe


(La Haye [The Hague]: Pierre de Hondt, 1728-39). 520 x 365 mm. (20 1/2 x 14"). Six volumes. FIRST EDITION, FIRST STATE, ON IMPERIAL PAPER.

MAJESTIC CONTEMPORARY DARK GREEN MOROCCO, LAVISHLY GILT, FROM THE WORKSHOP OF ANTOINE-MICHEL PADELOUP, covers with wide dentelle border of repeating tools, prominent among them an anchor, a star, and a floral sprig, arms of Samuel Bernard at center of each board, raised bands, spine compartments with centerpiece of anchor or star surrounded by strapwork and much gilt tooling, gilt lettering, turn-ins with gilt floral roll between two dogtooth rolls, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. WITH 213 SUPERB ENGRAVINGS, 28 OF THESE DOUBLE-PAGE, designed and engraved by Bernard Picart, Gerard Hoet, and Jacobus Houbraken, engraved on copper by Duflos, Thomassin, Gouwen, Folkema, and others. Front pastedown of first volume with engraved armorial bookplate of G. Bernard de Rieux. Cohen-de Ricci 940-41; Ebert 20371; Brunet V, 150. ◆Spines sunned to a light brown, some minor exterior signs of use, but the imposing bindings very well preserved, with shining gilt. First two volumes with dampstains (not severe, though certainly noticeable) to the (very wide) lower margins, nine of the double-page plates in these volumes with tear along the fold extending from tail edge to halfway up the sheet, the large plates with isolated short tears to tail of fold, final two leaves in volume III with text printed on thinner paper and set into frames of the imperial paper (and so apparently from a different copy), occasional light browning or marginal smudges or stains, but, taken as a whole, an amazing set of thick, imposing volumes in mostly very fine condition--the text bright, clean, and quite fresh, with vast margins and sharp impressions of the engravings.

These enormous volumes are from the most deluxe version of one of the rarest and most beautiful books produced in the early 18th century, offered here in elaborately gilt morocco by the royal binder, and with distinguished provenance. This "historical, critical, theological, and moral discourses on the most memorable events of the Old and New Testaments" is the chief work of French Huguenot preacher Jacques Saurin (1677–1730), whose skills of oratory had earned him the sobriquet "Chrysostom of Protestantism." Fleeing religious persecution in France, he settled in The Hague in 1705, and spent his final years writing and ministering to the French Protestant community there. The most notable illustrator of this work, Bernard Picart (1673-1733), was also a French Protestant who had taken refuge in The Hague, where his artistic skills were much in demand from publishers. Picart, Dutch master Gerard Hoet (1648-1733), and Hoet's pupil Jacobus Houbraken (1698-1780) prepared these splendid engravings between the years 1705 and 1720 for publisher and bookseller Pieter de Hondt (1696-1764); they were offered for sale individually before being collected for this volume and for de Hondt's Dutch Bible. Captioned in English, German, Latin, French, Dutch, and Hebrew (Old Testament) or Greek (New Testament), the giant folio plates capture "the most memorable events" from the Scriptures, as promised by the title, rendering the scenes with grace and drama, and in meticulous detail. Brunet says this work was printed on "ordinary or median paper" (sold for 80-100 francs), "royal paper" (120-150 francs), "super-royal" (150-200), and our "imperial paper" (200-250). Copies on imperial paper were the choice of the elite; owners of this issue included the kings of France and England, Madame de Pompadour, the Prince de Soubise, and our former owner Samuel Bernard, described in the memoirs of the Duc de Saint-Simon as "a famous banker and the richest man Europe." The illustrations here were clearly the chief attraction for Bernard: when he had this set sumptuously bound by preeminent French artisan Antoine-Michel Padeloup, he had the binder label the spines "Figures de la Bible." Padeloup (1685-1758) was the most outstanding artisan of that famous family of binders. Antoine, the founder of the dynasty, was doing work in the middle of the 17th century and was followed by sons Philippe and Michel, both of whom became master binders in 1686. But it was Michel's son, Antoine-Michel (1685-1758) called "le jeune," who was the most celebrated member of the family. In 1733, after a period as binder to the King of Portugal, he became binder to Louis XV. His work was much sought after by bibliophiles of the day, and always displays a distinctive elegance. A key financier to Louis XIV and Louis XV, Bernard (1651-1739) funded the War of the Spanish Succession for the former, who ennobled him in 1699. Louis XV created him Count of Coubert in 1725. Bernard owned vast properties, including a magnificent house on the rue du Bac in Paris and a chateau in Coubert. The binding bearing his arms is one of only two known contemporary armorial bindings on this work; the other set bore the arms of the king's mistress, Madame de Pompadour. Our set was bequeathed to Bernard's second son, Gabriel Bernard de Rieux (1704-88), president of the second Court of Inquiry in the Parliament of Paris and a noted connoisseur and bibliophile. Copies of this work on ordinary paper appear at auction from time to time, but they are almost always incomplete or in less-than-desirable condition; we were able to trace just one set on imperial paper, an ex-library copy sold in 2004 (for £4,780 all in).

Price: $55,000.00