A Charming and Wacky Look at Pulchritude

TRACTATUS PHYSIOLOGICUS DE PULCHRITUDINE. JUXTA EA QUAE DE SPONSA IN CANTICIS CANTICORUM MYSTICE PRONUNCIANTUR.

(Bruxellis: Typis Francisci Foppens, 1662). 152 x 90 mm. (6 x 3 1/2"). 4 p.l., 60 pp., [1] leaf (approbation). FIRST EDITION.

Pleasing 18th century marbled calf, raised bands, spine gilt in compartments with acorn tool at center, pomegranate cornerpieces, red morocco label, marbled endpapers. Woodcut initials and tailpieces, and 30 engravings on title and in text of female faces and animal faces, to which some of them are compared. Dorbon 5014; Wellcome V, 322; Brunet V, 1026 ("orné de jolies gravures au trait"). Extremities a little rubbed, small black smudge to upper board, the binding otherwise lustrous and well preserved, and A FINE COPY INTERNALLY, quite clean, fresh, and bright.

This is the sole printing of an obscure but fascinating physiological treatise on pulchritude. The text is divided up into 14 sections, each of which begins with a quotation from the "Song of Songs," followed by an explanation of how the quoted "mystic" words show that Solomon indeed knew what perfect female beauty was. For example, in chapter 1, the quotation "your head is like the camel's" is used as evidence that a woman's head ought to be lofty, and juxtaposed engravings of a (wary) camel and a (despondent) woman give a graphic reinforcement to the point. The chapter, like the other 13, ends with an appropriate short poem, presumably by the author. Brunet, in an understatement, says that the title of this charming and wacky work "gives some indication of its singularity."
(ST13009)

Keywords: Engravings

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PJP Catalog: ELIST4.001

TRACTATUS PHYSIOLOGICUS DE PULCHRITUDINE. JUXTA EA QUAE DE SPONSA IN CANTICIS CANTICORUM MYSTICE PRONUNCIANTUR. ERNESTUS VAENIUS.
TRACTATUS PHYSIOLOGICUS DE PULCHRITUDINE. JUXTA EA QUAE DE SPONSA IN CANTICIS CANTICORUM MYSTICE PRONUNCIANTUR.