(Antwerp: Ex officina Christophori Plantini, 1569). 125 x 85 mm. (5 x 3 1/4"). 243 (i.e., 143), [1] pp.

Attractive 19th century green crushed morocco, covers bordered by a gilt fillet with small tool at corners, raised bands flanked by gilt rules, spine panels with small tool at center, gilt titling, gilt-ruled turn-ins, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. Engraved printer's device on title and 58 WOODCUT EMBLEMS by Gerard Janssen van Kampen and Arnold Nicolai after designs by Geoffroy Ballain and Peter Huys. Front pastedown with bookplate of Lucius Wilmerding (see below); title page with small ink inscription. Landwehr "Emblem & Fable Books" 401; Voet "Plantin Press" 1479. A breath of rubbing to extremities, very neatly repaired one-inch tear on one leaf, just touching text (no displacement), inky fingerprints (probably from the printer) on another leaf, occasional minor marginal spotting and smudges, paper slightly browned throughout, but still a very attractive volume, the plates in strong impressions, and the binding bright and scarcely worn.

The emblems featured here are among the most beautiful of any produced in the 16th century, both in terms of design and execution of engraving, and the volume features a text by one of the most learned men of the age and an imprint by one of the most eminent printers of the day. Emblem books, featuring a combination of allegorical pictures and epigrams, established an enduring fashion in moral symbols. This singular category of illustrated books exerted a strong influence on both contemporary literature and the fine arts. Providing a doubly powerful composite of symbolical design and verbal expression, the emblem was intended to teach a moral truth in such a way that the reader's memory would grasp it, not as a formula, but as a genuine experience that would serve as an effective guide to understanding and conduct. In keeping with this formula, the 58 emblems in the present volume all have an accompanying legend that summarizes the illustration's meaning as well as a quatrain that restates and elaborates upon it. After the illustrated portion of the book comes a section devoted to extensive commentary further developing the meaning of the individual emblems and examining some of the problems of emblem illustration and interpretation; finally, there is a collection at the end of 45 "enigmata," or riddles in verse. The "Emblemata" was one of the first works of emblem literature published by Christopher Plantin (when he issued it in larger format in 1565); the printer clearly recognized in the 1560s that such material had considerable commercial possibilities. Plantin also published the emblems of Sambucus and Alciato, which our artists van Kampen and Nicolai employed for some of the engravings in those books. The author of the text here, Adriaen de Jonghe (1511-75), was a practicing physician in Haarlem and a scholar who produced volumes of translations, criticism, lexicography, natural history, and poetry, as well as this emblem book, which is his best-known work. Lucius Wilmerding (1880-1949), a successful banker, was known equally for his outstanding book collection and his philanthropic work on behalf of various organizations, including the New York Public Library, of which he was a trustee. He was also vice president of the American Library in Paris and president of the Grolier Club. His library contained a substantial group of bindings and illustrated books, chosen with exacting discrimination for their historic interest, their beauty, and their consistently fine condition.

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PJP Catalog: Cat 69.136


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