Architectura von Ausstheilung, Sÿmmetria und Proportion der Fünff Seülen.
Nuremberg, Balthasar Caimox, 1598.


Folio. 207 unnumbered ll., 5 parts in 1, separate t-p to each. Large Gothic letter. Engraved architectural t-ps with instruments and allegorical figures; 203 etched plates (3 fold-out, some expertly mounted) of portals, fountains, fireplaces and columns; decorated initials, head- and tailpieces. First t-p a bit dust-soiled, early repair to couple of outer margins, a little marginal soiling or faint spotting, traces of glue to blank frame of two plates, minimal fraying to lower outer margins of first few leaves, colophon mounted on last, lower margin of plate 23 folded in. A very good copy in Dutch mottled calf by the Elte Bindery c.1700, gilt ruled with floral tendrils to a panel design, gilt large fleurons to corners, gilt rhombus-shaped centrepiece with drawer handle tools, dots, and fleurons, minor loss in places, spine in eight compartments with gilt fleurons and cornerpieces, morocco label, outer edges gilt, upper joint repaired, lower cracked towards foot. Erased early autograph to upper blank margin of first t-p, C19 inscription ‘Henriette Jentine Gerardine Feltzer geb: 22 Maart 1863 he ’s-Gravenhage (?) 30 Julii 1880’ to plate 170.

The fine gilt binding was made by the Elte Bindery in Amsterdam, c.1697-1722. An almost identical gilt centrepiece is found on a binding in marbled calf c.1710. ‘The Elte Bindery also made large bindings containing not books but blank paper—so-called art books, intended for the mounting of prints and drawings’ (Van Leeuwen, ‘Dutch Decorated Bookbinding in the C18’, I, 286-87).A very good copy, superbly illustrated and finely printed, of Wiendel Dietterlin’s work on architecture—the first German collected edition in five parts expanding on material previously issued in 1593 and 1594. Dietterlin (1550-99) was a German printmaker and architectural theorist. ‘Architectura’ devoted a minimal section to textual descriptions favouring instead the depiction of highly decorated portals, fountains, fireplaces, funeral monuments and groups of sculptures based loosely on the five architectural orders. ‘The plates depict the most fantastic designs in the most lurid taste which show, for the most part, no regard for the possibility of execution in any building material.’ (Fowler, p. 88). Dietterlin mixed the classical elements of Renaissance architecture with Gothic tracery, daunting grotesques, scrollwork, strapwork, volutes, contorted sculpted bodies and crowded compositions. These editions became ‘excessively rare’ because they were ‘widely used … in the workshops of architects and decorators, where they were copied and recopied, worn out and in the end discarded’. (‘The Fantastic Engravings’, p. ii).

Unlike contemporary illustrated architectural works like Serlio’s which appeared in a single consistent edition, ‘Architectura’ was amorphous. This copy is a composite collection—complete with 201 engravings, including the t-ps, the additional 2 in the original being an extra copy of plate 6 and Dietterlin’s portrait—of original plates from the first and second issues of the 1598 first collected German edition, without the author’s portrait and prefatory poem present in the first issue. Several plates were expertly mounted onto blank pages usually in the correct order, following their etched numbering. (A few were renumbered in ink probably by the publisher, as in other recorded copies.) As usual in the original, the 3 fold-out plates were glued together to reproduce the complete image. Sundry variants of the 1598 edition are recorded which do not agree on the content and order of the plates. As in this copy, in the original of the second issue ‘the page with Plate 23 and its accompanying type is taller than the rest and treated partially as a foldout’ (‘The Fantastic Engravings’, p.ii); the letterpress layout of Plate 23 in this copy is the same as in BAL 881. Fol. 3, which bears a different typeset to the rest, resembling Plate 23, comes from the first issue. No other copies with mounted plates appear to be recorded. A pre-1722 owner created a composite architecture book featuring early imprints in superb impression and freshly inked.

Only Harvard, Minnesota and UChicago copies recorded in the US.
Brunet II, 706; Fowler, 105; Berlin Katalog, 1942; Fairfax Murray, German I, 134. The Fantastic Engravings of Wendel Dietterlin (New York, 1968).


Print This Item Print This Item