Les Plans et les descriptions de deux des plus belles maisons de campagne … une dissertation touchant l’architecture antique et l’architecture gothique

Paris, Florentin et P. Delaulne, 1699. 


FIRST EDITION. 12mo. pp. (xii) 189 (xxiii) double column. Roman and Italic letter, seven engraved plates, five of which folding. Woodcut initials and tailpieces, typographical ornaments, “Mon. S Vincent Cenom C.S.M. 1699” on title, autograph A. Barbet on fly with his stamp on pastedown, bookplate of H Pasquier below, those of J. B. Bury and Michael Bury on rear pastedown. Light age yellowing, very minor occasional spotting, the odd mark. A very good copy in contemporary calf, Later monogram ‘AB’ within oval, of surveyors measuring tool, gilt stamped on covers, spine with raised bands, gilt ruled in compartments, richly gilt, red morocco label gilt lettered, a.e.r., head, joints and corners worn.

A rare and most interesting treatise by Felibien des Avaux in which he compiles and translates everything that Pliny the Younger wrote on the subject of the buildings his father  had built, principally his two famous ‘country’ houses, which he called the ‘Laurentin’ and his ‘House in Tuscany’. The two letters in which he describes these buildings are translated into French and juxtaposed with the latin text in double column. “These two texts conduct carefully crafted house and garden tours of Country estates that purportedly belonged to Pliny: one for winter use by the flat seacoast at Laurentium near Rome – his Laurentinum; the other in the Tuscan hill country primarily for summer and autumn – his villa in Tuscis or Tuscanum. Such verbal descriptions extolling the architectural and horticultural charms of ancient Roman villas put flesh on the bare bones provided by archaeological excavation. For centuries, therefore, the younger Pliny’s words have prompted imaginary reconstructions based on them. .. A less fanciful imaginary reconstruction of Pliny’s stibadium was published for the first time by the French Latinist Jean-Francois Félibien des Avaux. .. Félibien brought out ‘Les Plans ..’ in Paris in 1699 around the same time as Lazzari produced his drawing. But unlike the Italian, the separate plate that Félibien devoted to the stibadium and its immediate environs shows them in plan only. In fact, Pliny’s villa letters rarely give detailed architectural information. Only once or twice do they even mention the word column. An exception to the general rule exists in the instance of the dining stibadium surrounded by what the text specifies as “quattuor columellae Carystiae’, that is to say Carystian marble columns. Félibien’s plan shows them at number 44. At a distance stood a secluded sleeping alcove, numbered 46, to which Pliny could retire after entertaining dinner guests. It had a bed inside, benches and more fountains interconnected with those in the stibidium by underground canals. … While Félibien recognised the importance of the stibidium in Pliny’s description, he conveyed an impression of geometric control over the trees, regimented in rows like soldiers on parade at Versailles. Typical of reconstructions in general, Félibien’s says more about the era of its creator than about that of Pliny, who had stressed the hilliness and variety of the site.” Annalisa Marzano.’The Roman Villa in the Mediterranean Basin: Late Republic to Late Antiquity.’

Jean-Francois Félibien, most famous for his architectural work ‘Recueil historique de la vie et des ouvrages des plus célèbres architectes’, was the son of André, historian of the Royal buildings and first secretary of the \Academy of Architecture and the author of several important works of Architecture. 

A rare and most interesting work, beautifully illustrated. 

Not in BM STC fr. C17th, Brunet or Fowler. FRBNF 30425322. 


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