Le premier tome de l’architecture.
Paris, “chez Federic Morel, Rue S.Jean de Beauvais” 1567.
Folio. (9) + (1 blank) + 283 + (1)ff, many woodcut ills (of which 72 are full-page and 7 are double-page). Nineteenth-century quarter calf (in eighteenth century style), gilt spine, marbled boards, slightly cracking at hinges, neatly recased. Pencil ownership inscription on f.241 of “Revillon, Rue de Malte 13, le 10 Mai 1857” (the Paris-based sculptor Jean Baptiste Révillon, 1819-1869). Subsequently Sir Reginald Blomfield’s copy (see enclosed letter from Blomfield, dated 27 June 1903, recording that this copy was a duplicate of his, and offering it with other duplicates to W.C.Alexander, Aubrey House, Kensington, presumably the copy’s next owner). The copy is generally in good, clean condition, but leaf 175 is browned towards its foot, leaves 215-6 are repaired at their inner blank margin (without loss of printed surface), leaves 258, 265 and 266 have been repaired for marginal tears, and leaves 275-282 have an old light stain in their outer margin. George Atkinson’s copy.
First edition, first issue, of one of the most extensive architectural treatises of the renaissance period, including the final leaf with errata, often absent. Its author, Philibert de l’Orme (1514-1570), having studied in Rome in the 1530s, worked as an architect successively for François I, Henri II and Charles IX of France, but his most famous building was the Château d’Anet, designed and built by him for Henri II’s mistress, Diane de Poitiers, between 1547 and 1552. In the present book he begins by discussing architecture in general and the qualities needed in an architect, and then turns first to building materials and construction, and then to the classical orders of architecture, including a French order of his own invention. The book concludes with a section devoted to chimneys and with some final remarks on architecture in general, including well-known woodcut illustrations of the bad architect (f.281) and the good architect (f.283). Our present copy includes the final unnumbered leaf carrying an address to the readers on its recto and errata on its verso, often absent, but not an adjacent leaf sometimes present carrying a publishing privilege (this duplicates a similar privilege printed on the verso of the title leaf, recording that the printing of the book was completed on 29 November 1567, except for the fact that the separate privilege leaf gives the date of the completion of printing as 27 August 1567 and would therefore have been an obvious discard when copies were bound up). It should also be noted that there is a hiccup, as always, in the printed foliation of the printed leaves between f.240 and f.249, the intervening leaves being unnumbered except for a leaf numbered 247 which immediately precedes f.249; the explanation for this is that the unnumbered leaf signed X1 is a folding leaf accounting for two numbers (f.243 and f.244), and as this was not realised by whoever in the printing house did the foliation, the leaf before f.249 has been erroneously numbered 247, rather than 248 as should have been the case (as is noted in the BAL Cat).The copy is in general in good and pleasing condition, and although a few faults are listed in the detailed description of it given below, these are all rather minor and it is likely that our copy is as good a copy of the first issue, dated 1567, as is likely to become available in the book trade at the present day. All the recent copies of this title sold at auction seem in fact to have been examples of the second issue, dated 1568. For those interested in book provenances, the book’s best-known owner was the well-known British architect Sir Reginald Blomfield (1856-1942), one of the few British architects in modern times to take an interest in French architecture of the renaissance period. BAL Cat 1955 (second issue, 1568, lacking signature e, the Table des Principales Matières); Millard, French Books 105 (again a copy of the second issue, 1568) ; Harvard Cat French Books 355 (this issue), 356 (second issue); Berlin Cat 2362 (this issue); Fowler Cat 99 (this issue, lacking leaf with address to readers and errata).