Architecture ou art de bien bastir.

Paris, Hiersome de Marnef & G. Cavellat, 1572.


Folio pp. (viii) 351 (iii). Roman letter. “De Marnet’s pelican device (Renouard 37) on the title-page. Architectural title-border with scrollwork, grotesque heads, and animal heads … two full-page cuts of buildings which were not in the 1547 edition.  The façade bearing the crowned initials of François I, Henri II and Catherine de Médicis appears earlier in the Amadis de Gaul … two headpieces with satyrs and de Marnef arms … grotesque initials in three sizes.  A most elaborate de Marnef pelican device (Renouard 729) on the verso of leaf HH4” Mortimer, FR. 551. Some 150 architectural woodcuts (from one-third to double page) illustrating text. Slightly later autograph ‘Biaggio’ on pastedown. Light age yellowing, minor foxing, title restored at gutter. A very good copy, crisp and clean, in contemporary limp vellum, yapp edges, vellum with minor restoration to fore-edge of upper cover.

Second edition of the French translation of the De Architectura, by Jean Martin; it had first appeared in a now very rare edition of 1547. The illustrations are largely common to both editions, though this second does contain both different and additional cuts. Most of the illustrations are the work of Jean Goujon and were new to the 1547 edition; the rest are largely copies of Giovanni Giocondo’s cuts for a 1511 Latin edition (Tacuino, Venice) whilst a few are based on the remarkable Como Vitruvius of 1521. Martin’s translation was not superseded until the publication of Claude Perrault’s more than a hundred years later.   “This handbook on classical architecture is the only Roman work inspired by Greek architecture that has come down to us.  It is therefore important as our prime source of many lost Greek writings on the subject and as a guide to archaeological research in Italy and Greece.  By exemplifying the principles of classical architecture it became the fundamental architectural text book for centuries … Alberti, Brumante, Ghiberti, Michelangelo, Vignola, Palladio and many others were directly inspired by Vitruvius” (Printing and the Mind of Man 26, on the first Latin edition).

Jean Martin, translator and editor of this volume, sought to produce a book of use to practitioners as well as of interest to his fellow humanists. As such the work is beautifully and profusely illustrated. Besides schematic architectural illustrations, the woodcuts include complex Renaissance ornaments, graceful scenes and theatrical stage settings in Italian perspective, most of them the work of Jean Goujon (died ca 1567), while the larger initials are attributable to Jean Cousin (ca 1490-ca 1560), two artists who together decorated the Château d’Anet. Vitruvius’ treatise is followed by Goujon’s discourse on his own illustrations. A beautifully illustrated and most influential work.

Brunet V 1329 “on… recherche toujours l’édition … à cause des gravures sur bois … exécutées par notre célèbre Jean Goujon et parce qu’ill s’y trouve … une Dissertation sur l’architecture, par le même artiste”.  Brun. p.313. Fowler 411 “The larger woodcut initials, and the smaller ones, were used by the printing firm of Estienne in Paris”. Berlin cat. 1808. Cicognara 719. Mortimer 551.


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