Paris, Robert Stephanus, 1540 [part III 1539; part IV 1538]


Large folio. 4 parts in 1 volume. ff. 1) [x], 268. 2) ff. [i], 104 [i.e. 103]. 3) ff. 90. 4) ff.. 92. Entirely ruled in red and rubricated in yellow. Roman letter, small Roman letter for annotations, some Greek and Hebrew. “Estienne’s olive tree device (Renouard 291) on the title-page, repeated on the special title-pages of parts 2, 3 and 4. The block has been revised since its first appearance on Estienne’s 1528 Bible… The word ‘Biblia (probably xylographic, as in 1528) is enclosed in a cartouche surrounded by grapevines and small figures. The cartouche block is signed with the lorraine cross and originated in Estienne’s folio bible of 1532. …Twenty woodcuts – one in Genesis, eleven in Exodus, and eight in Kings … Most of the cuts are lettered and accompanied by printed keys. The full page plan of the camp of the Israelites, leaf e3r, shows traces of a Lorraine cross signature.” Mortimer, fine white on black criblée initials designed by Tory. “Ex dono fratris N. de Requeleyne” at head of t-p, “Bibliotheca monasterii B. M. de Monte Petroso,” on title, early autograph “De Mont Solon” below. Light age yellowing, occasional pale mostly marginal water stain to upper margins, small tear on lower blank margin of  ff. 116 of first vol., one original paper flaw with loss of a few letters, first t-p fractionally dusty. A very good copy, crisp and clean, with good margins, in handsome seventeenth century mottled calf over thick boards, ‘I: DEREQUELEYNE’ gilt lettered to covers spine with raised bands, gilt ruled in compartments richly gilt with scrolled and pointillée tools, title label gilt lettered, all edges sprinkled red, corners and extremities worn, covers a little rubbed and scratched.

A handsome copy of this monumental important, beautifully illustrated Bible, edited and very finely printed by Robert Estienne, from the library of the celebrated Madame de Barante.“The third Estienne folio Bible, for which the text was revised from additional MS sources; a list given at the end of the preface enumerates at least 16 MSS and 3 printed editions. This edition contains the first printing of the Prayer of Manasses, in Greek and Latin. It is the text of this monumental edition which became the foundation of the official Roman vulgate … This is the only illustrated Bible issued by Robert Estienne, and the second of only five illustrated books which he produced” Schreiber. “This is one of the few illustrated books printed by Estienne, and the purpose of the woodcuts is instruction above the Biblia pauperum level. The series of subjects developed from fourteenth and early fifteenth-century diagrams made by Nicolaus de Lyra and Paulus Burgensis. Estienne acknowledges on the t-p the assistance of Francois Vatable, regius professor of Hebrew, in preparing the illustrations for the tabernacle and the temple of Solomon. Vatable also supplied notes for part of the Hebrew Old Testament in quarto begun by Estienne in 1539, and his lectures were claimed as the source for annotations in other Estienne Bibles, particularly in the controversial Bible of 1545. Added to the scholarship of Vatable and Estienne was an accomplished hand in designing and cutting the blocks. They were thus widely copied.” Mortimer.

“Estienne sought to restore the Biblical text by the critical method and made free ‘use of the emendations and notes of humanist scholars,’ especially those of Erasmus. The doctors of the Sorbonne thundered against him in their pulpits, but when called upon to point out specific errors in Estienne’s editions were seldom able to prove anything but their own inability to translate Greek. The attacks on Robert Estienne by the Sorbonne divines began with his 1523 Latin New Testament. For his freedom with corrections and his attempts to disseminate the Scriptures, he was suspected of heresy Each new edition of the Biblia or any part of the Scriptures, as the Decalogue, for example, brought renewed attacks and harassment, as Renouard and William Parr Greswell point out. Robert himself wrote that when he published the Decalogue, about 1540, the ‘orthodox censors’ instituted the most rigorous proceedings against him causing his house to be searched for heretical works and often compelling him to be absent from home, either through apprehension or being arrested or through the necessity of following the king’s court and council from place to place in order to counteract the censors violent designs.” DeWitt T. Starnes ‘Robert Estienne’s Influence on Lexicography’

A very handsome copy of this superb Bible from the huge library of the Barante family that contained over sixty thousand works. Madame de Barante held an important literary salon, frequented by Madame de Stael.

Adams B-1022. Mortimer Fr. I 68. Armstrong 72-75. Brunet I 875-876. Darlow & Moule 6117. Schreiber 59.


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