A Very Fine Unrestored Contemporary Copy, with Remarkable Engravings of English Worthies, Including Queen Elizabeth as Not your Tightly Cinched Figure Dwarfed by Mountainous Ruffs


([Rotterdam: Reinier Leers, 1697- ca. 1713]). 390 x 245 mm. (15 3/8 x 9 5/8").

APPEALING CONTEMPORARY MARBLED CALF, GILT, covers with border roll of alternating diamonds and lilies, raised bands, spine compartments with thistle, tulip, and acorn centerpiece, foliate cornerpieces, burgundy morocco spine label, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. WITH 66 SENSITIVELY DRAWN AND EXPERTLY ENGRAVED PORTRAITS of notable personages after Adriaen van der Werff, created for Larrey's "Histoire." Brunet III, 852; Graesse IV, 110-11; Lowndes II, 1313 (all citing Larrey’s "Histoire"). Leather with a few minor scratches, a half dozen plates lightly browned, isolated mild marginal foxing, but A VERY FINE COPY--the plates especially clean and fresh, with rich impressions of the engravings, and in a lustrous, unrestored, contemporaneous binding.

These brilliant portraits by Dutch Baroque painter Adriaen van der Werff (1659-1722) were unanimously deemed by Brunet, Graesse, and Lowndes to be the only valuable part of Larrey's otherwise disappointing history of England, Scotland, and Ireland; and our former owner seems to have agreed, choosing to have them bound--quite beautifully--apart from the text. The engravings here are mostly of 16th and 17th century kings, queens, religious figures, and statesmen of England, but they also include some continental European monarchs such as Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, Philip II of Spain, and Frederick the Great of Prussia. The plates are not only beautifully engraved—by accomplished Dutch engravers Pieter van Gunst, Cornelis Vermeulen, and Gerard Valck—but are wonderfully convincing images with considerable personality. For once, Queen Elizabeth I looks like a real woman, as opposed to a tightly cinched flattened figure floating above a farthingale and dwarfed by mountainous ruffs. And Henry VII looks much less regal than he does haggard and rueful. According to the "Handbook of Painting," van der Werrf's portraits "were so highly admired by princes and men of fortune, that he found it impossible to execute all the commissions given him." His fortune was made when John William, Elector of the Palatinate, commissioned his own portrait: so pleased was the elector with this work that he put the artist on a generous retainer, presented him with a portrait executed in diamonds, and awarded him a knighthood. Larrey's "Histoire d'Angleterre, d'Ecosse, et d'Irlande" was issued between 1697 and 1713, with a second edition in 1723. Brunet notes that the work was available with and without plates, suggesting the suite of engravings was issued apart from the text; it is obvious our set has been together from the beginning in its present early 18th century binding.

Price: $7,500.00