BOUSSUET, Francois (1520-1572)
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DE NATURA AQUATILIUM CARMEN. In alteram partem uniuersae Gulielmi Rondeletii doctoris medici, & medicinae in schola Monspeliensi professoris regii, quam de Aquatilibus scripsit: Cum veris ..… excussum.
Lugduni, apud Mathiam Bonhome, 1558. Quarto (210 x 146 mm), 2 partes bound in one, pp. 20, 240, 2, 5-135. With Bonhome’s Perseus device on title page of part one and a woodcut medailion portrait of the author in part one on c2 verso and in part two on aa2 verso, 466 fine woodcuts of fishes, shells and other aquatic animals. A large folding leaf, numbered 65, with a woodcut of the De Stella Arborescente and often accompanied by a text on recto and verso, is not bound in. Just as in our copy. Other copies have the folding leaf tipped in to page 66 or to page 67 (kk2), or to page 71 of the second part of the book, see for instance Christie’s sale 2361, lot 290, december, 2010, New York. Folding and tipping is often crudely done either in a horizontal position opposite p. 64, see copy one of the library of Madrid or in a vertical position opposite p. 64, see copy two of the library of Madrid. The following can be remarked about the condition of the remaining copies of Boussuet’s De Natura Aquatilium Carmen, which have been preserved now for over four and a half centuries. Many vellum bindings have been damaged and others have been restored in the 18th century.
We assume that our copy is an early collation probably a first issue. It is preserved in a seventeenth vellum binding, the spine has been inscribed in ink with author and title information; inscription on title-page: Hic liber completes est. Inscriptions in contemporary handwriting. Signature in ink JvdHoeven, 1835, on the first flyleaf, circular leather bookplate from Roger Paultre at the inside of front cover. A handsome copy in very good condition, with a distinguished provenance: Jan van der Hoeven (1801-1868), Dutch naturalist, Leiden, and Roger Paultre, French writer, Paris.
Boussuet (1520-1572), a physician, wrote a synopsis of medical profession in 12 books summarizing the knowledge of sixteenth century medicine based on his own experience and of the doctrine of the ancients. Boussuet in his De natura aquatilium carmen tells the reader in his Elegia that he has followed Guillaume Rondelet (1507-1566), his mentor, in reporting the natural history of a certain number of aquatic animals. Indeed, the work is illustrated with all the excellent woodcuts from Rondelet's Libri de Piscibus Marinis, in Quibus Verae Piscium Effigies expressae sunt. Univerae Aquatilium Historiae pars Altera, cum Veris Ipsorum Imaginibus, Lugduni, apud Mathiam Bonhome, 1558, including the sea monk and the sea bishop. Reverdy illustrated Rondelet’s work, he was a painter, a woodblock carver, an engraver, and a sculptor in Lyon. We assume that Boussuet got the publisher’s permission (Matthiam Bonhome, Lyon) to use Georges Reverdy’s woodblocks, since all depictions are not mirrored. Boussuet’s book consists of a number of verses, which give information on the habitat, the behaviour, the reproduction and the taste of fishes. Extensive attention is given to the culinary aspects. The texts have an emblematic character as well: the verse on the sargo or sea- bream for instance includes the following phrases: "The sea-bream is not satisfied with one wife but carries away many of them and wanders often through the waters of the sea. He often burns of a perverse love for the goats, but these are for this unlucky creature the cause of his death". Another example is this verse on mackerel: Since mackerels begin to grow fat in the early spring. They will be suitable for gullet, when the spring comes. For they do not hurt the mouth, nor they hit throat with sharp bones. This dish is free from harmful bones. Besides they are rated as having sweet and pleasant taste in the month of April. And only a fool rejects them. Therefore if the cook serves them to me at that time moderately roasted with butter. I will prefer [them] to the others. May his own judgement be to everyone, and may everyone follow his own. In fact mackerel will always be a friend to me. Boussuet finishes the preface of the book with the remark that he has written a small work, that can be obtained for a modest price. "But once purchased by the reader it will always be kept close to his heart”.
Price: € 5.500,00