(Paris: apud Guillaume Morel, 1562). 172 x 106 mm. (6 3/4 x 4 1/4"). 14 p.l., 484 pp.,  leaves. Greek and Latin paraphrases by Georgius Pachymeres and Scholia by Michael Sygkellus.
ELEGANT CONTEMPORARY BROWN MOROCCO, GILT, INLAID, AND PAINTED BY CLAUDE DE PICQUES, covers with gilt French fillet border, central inlaid black morocco oval enclosed by strapwork painted green and red, this surrounded by swirling gilt vines bearing hatched leaves, blooms, and Picques' distinctive "bat" (or "butterfly") tool, two slits for ties (now lacking), raised bands, gilt spine compartments semé with pyramids of three dots, ALL EDGES GILT AND GAUFFERED in an elaborate floral design. With printer's devices on title page and final page. Front pastedown with evidence of bookplate removal; title page with ink ex-libris of Margaret Edwards[?]. USTC 153374. For the binding: Foot, Henry Davis Gift I, pp. 170-182, Plate II.13.A; British Library Database of Bookbindings shelfmarks c66b7 and Davis394; Nixon, "Sixteenth Century Gold-Tooled Bindings in the Pierpont Morgan Library, pp. 35-39, 72-80. Minor rubbing along front joint (with thin half-inch crack at head), small, very shallow abrasions to inlaid ovals on covers, paint with superficial losses, but A FINE COPY, the binding lustrous and unusually well preserved, and the text beautifully white and fresh.
This collection of writings by the sixth century mystical theologian Dionysius the Areopagite was bound by one of the most important and influential French bookbinders of the 16th century. Claude de Picques (ca. 1510 - 1574/78) had an illustrious clientele: he bound books for Jean Grolier, he was chosen as binder to Queen Catherine de' Medici in 1553, and he was binder to kings Henri II and Charles IX for two decades. The British Library has a copy of our 1562 Dionysius Areopagita bound for Charles IX that also features the characteristic "bat" or "butterfly" tool of Picques' atelier (Foot, Davis Gift I, p. 179, note 14; BL shelfmark c66b7). According to the Bibliothèque Nationale's "Reliures" database, Picques was "the emblematic figure of bookbinding in Paris from the years 1540 to around 1575" and was responsible for the flowering of lavishly decorated bindings in the French Renaissance, including the earliest examples of the fanfare style. In addition to being the Royal Binder, he also bound books for noted bibliophiles Markus Fugger, Thomas Mahieu (Maiolus), and Marc Laurin. The works in our volume were intended to achieve a synthesis of Christian dogma and Neoplatonic thought, and the Italian humanist Marsilio Ficino testified that Dionysius was the supreme embodiment of the fusion of Platonism and Christianity. The works contain a complete theology, describing the Celestial and Ecclesiastical hierarchies in great detail and providing a symbolic and mystical explanation for all creation. The book exerted a great influence in Medieval and early Christian theology as well as in the literary works of, among others, Dante, Spenser, and Milton. (ST18044)
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PJP Catalog: 81.121