(Félibien des Avaux, André)
Entretiens sur les vies et sur les ouvrages des plus excellens peintres anciens et modernes. Nouvelle edition revue, corrigée & augmentée des Conferences de l’Academie Royale de Peinture & de Sculpture.
Londres (i.e.London), David Mortier 1705.
8vo. 4 vols in 3. Engraved frontispiece, (32) + 248 + (8)pp; 297 + (7)pp; 418 + (6)pp; 371 + (5)pp. Contemporary full calf, gilt spines, one volume chipped at head of spine. Later eighteenth century German ownership inscription, “König”, at top of title leaves of vols 1 and 4. Bookplate of Michael Jaffé (1923-1997), Director of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, and authority on the painter Rubens, in first volume. A little internal spotting and browning.
The most significant of the books written by André Félibien des Avaux (1619-1695), who as a protegé of Colbert and as official historiographer at the court of Louis XIV played an essential role in encouraging the study of the history and theory of art and architecture in France in the second half of the seventeenth century. It takes the form of ten dialogues between Félibien and an imaginary friend, Pymandre, and in them Félibien discusses the careers and artistic output both of the great artists of the past and of relatively recent artists whom he had known personally. In this context, he had been fortunate enough to spend two years in Rome at the end of the 1640s, during which he had made the friendship of Poussin, and had also got to know the Italian artists Giovanni Lanfranco and Pietro da Cortona, and the pages devoted to Poussin and to Poussin’s contemporaries are of particular value. The book had originally been published in instalments between 1666 and 1688, and the present collected edition includes at the end of the last volume an added dialogue, “Le Songe de Philomathe”, initially published for Félibien as a separate pamphlet in 1684. The title leaf of the first volume calls additionally for the presence of a printing of the Conférences de l’Academie Royale de Peinture & de Sculpture, a slim volume recording the early proceedings of the Academie Royale which Félibien had edited for publication in 1669, but this is absent from the present set of the Entretiens and it appears that it was in practice marketed separately by its publisher David Mortier. The BAL holds the Entretiens in a six-volume edition of 1725 which contains additional publications by Félibien’s son (BAL Cat 1039).