D’Aviler, A(ugustin) C(harles)

(Cours d’architecture qui comprend les ordres de Vignole, avec des commentaires, les figures & descriptions de ses plus beaux bâtimens, et de ceux de Michel-Ange) ; Explication des termes d’architecture … le tout par raport à l’art de bâtir. Suite du Cours d’architecture.

Paris, Nicolas Langlois 1691.

Reference: 08818
Price: £1 [convert currency]

Full Description

4to. 2 vols. Engraved frontispiece, (80) + xii + 355 + (1)pp, (31) engraved plates (double-page and folding), (84) engraved text ills ; engraved frontispiece, (2) + pp.355-880 + (4)pp. Contemporary full calf, gilt spines (both spines a little chipped at head and foot, spine of vol.1 cracked at head of one joint, and a small hole close to head of spine of vol.2). From the library of Martin Bowes (1670-1726), with his ink ownership inscriptions in each volume. A good set.

A bibliographically significant copy of an early issue of the first edition of the well-known Cours d’Architecture by the French architect Augustin Charles d’Aviler (1653-1700). D’Aviler had been one of the first students of the Acadèmie Royale d’Architecture sent to study in Rome (which he only reached after two years in prison in Tunis, his ship being captured by pirates on his journey out), and he had subsequently worked in the office of the royal architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart before entering independent architectural practice. In the 1680s he had begun a commentary on Vignola, and had produced a French-language edition of Book VI of Scamozzi, and his primary intention in the compilation of what was to become the Cours d’Architecture was to provide French readers with an intelligible explanation of Vignola’s teachings on the orders of architecture, accompanied by illustrations of some of the most notable of the buildings designed by Vignola and by Michelangelo. To these he added a specimen design for a large town house of his own invention, and an interesting illustrated discussion of the various architectural components of the interior of a typical town house of the period. He also decided to append a dictionary of the terms used in architecture and in the building trade, which forms the second volume of the Cours as published. The result was to provide a comprehensive architectural textbook that was valued both by architects and by educated readers, and was to be reissued in numerous editions between the 1690s and the 1760s. It has however been observed, most recently by the compilers of the British Architectural Library’s Catalogue of Early Printed Books, that changes were made in the make-up of the book’s first edition at a late stage in the printing process, and the evidence of the present copy, taken together with that of an incomplete copy of an early issue of the first volume which is also in our possession, reveals that the general Cours d’Architecture title leaf must have been printed as an afterthought, and that the original plan had been to divide what was ultimately the first volume into two parts with separate title leaves, the break coming after p.244. The original intended printed title leaf for the first part, which survives in our incomplete copy of vol.1, and was also present in the now lost Berlin copy (Berlin Cat 2388), reads thus: “L’Architecture de Vignole, qui comprend ses ordres, avec des commentaires, les figures & descriptions de ses plus beaux bâtimens, & de ceux de Michel-Ange, plusieurs nouveaux desseins, ornemens & préceptes concernant l’art de bâtir ; et une explication de tous ces termes. Par le Sieur A.C.Daviler architecte. Premiere partie”. No scholar seems however to have discovered until now a surviving copy of the original intended printed title leaf for the second part, and it is a fortunate chance that the binder of the copy that we catalogue here, not having the general Cours d’Architecture title leaf available to him (presumably because it had not yet been printed), used the intended title leaf for the second part as a title leaf for the first volume as a whole. It reads thus : “Second partie du Cours d’Architecture qui contient les figures et descriptions des plus beaux bâtimens de Vignole et de Michel-Ange, plusieurs nouveaux desseins, ornemens, & préceptes concernant la distribution, la matiere & la construction des edifices … & tout ce qui regarde l’art de bâtir ; avec une ample explication de tous les termes par ordre alphabetique”. As both of these intended title leaves carry Langlois’s imprint and the publication date 1691 at their foot, it is clear that at the time that they were printed it was these title leaves that were intended to be the title leaves of the published book. One must conclude that the general Cours d’Architecture title leaf was only produced after a decision had been taken that the “Explication des Termes d’Architecture” would be too lengthy to be bound up as part of the “Second Partie du Cours d’Architecture” and would have to form a volume on its own. BAL Cat 155 ; Fowler Cat 32 ; Millard, French Books 14, 15 (later 18th century editions).

Leave a comment