BONIFACIUS VIII Sextus decretalium liber, jam recens ad vetustissimorum exemplarium fidem quam accuratissime emendatus

Lyon, excudebat Barthélemy Frein apud Guillaume Rouillé, 1555


16mo. pp. 1102 [xxiv]. a-z8, A-Z8, Aa-Zz8, aa-bb8. Roman letter, some Italic, entirely ruled in red. Rouillé’s woodcut device on title, woodcut initials in various sizes, “Collegii Regii Argentinealis Societ Jesu. Exdono R. P. Petri Robinet Regi Catholi a Confeso.’ in a slightly later hand on t-p., Maurice Burrus’ engraved bookplate on pastedown, his purchase note on rear fly, early ms shelf-mark on front fly. Light age yellowing. A fine copy, crisp and clean in a superb contemporary french ‘citron’ morocco ‘a la cire’ binding, covers bordered in a double gilt rule infilled in black, a second border infilled in red and worked in scrolls around a central circle, central panel finely scroll worked in gilt with painted white leaves and flowers, circles infilled with gilt pointillé, spine with gilt hatched raised bands, gilt ruled in compartments, central lozenges painted in red infilled with gilt pontillé, with semé of small star and circle tools gilt, edges gilt hatched and ruled, all edges gilt and simply gauffered, ‘Nn’ stamped on upper edge, tiny, almost invisible restoration at head and tail of spine

A stunning copy, beautifully bound, of this finely printed edition of the decretals with most interesting provenance. The binding is an exceptional example of the best work of the period with the central panels freely worked in scrolls, entirely without the use of stamped tools, by an extremely skilled gilder. The design is charming and in a remarkable state of preservation. Originally part of the Italian desire to recapture the decorative splendour of ancient Rome, such ‘reliures à la cire’ quickly came to typify the elegance of the French Renaissance. In the middle of the C16 the use of painted onlays was the height of French bibliophilic fashion, espoused with enthusiasm by the grandest patrons and practised only by a handful of ‘doreurs sur cire’. “These great artistic creations …. are the highest achievements in the art of bookbinding in the Renaissance period…. and some must be counted among the greatest works of art in the French Renaissance”, (Goldschmidt I p. 104).

The work here is a collection of canon law, edited by Jacques Fontaine comprising the Decrees of Boniface VIII, the Clementina or Constitutions of Clement V, both with notes by Joannis Andrea, and the Extravagantes of John XXII together with a life of that pope and various other works edited Fontaine. The work is superbly printed by Barthélemy Frein, of whom Baudrier stated; “un excellent typographe et doit être compté parmi les meilleurs imprimeurs de Lyon, malheureusement son penchant pour la boisson enraya le développement de son atelier.”

This copy was given by the Jesuit Pierre Robinet to the Jesuit College in Strasbourg. Pierre Robinet was part of the large entourage of Frenchmen in the court of Philip V of Spain and was the confessor to the king, an important member of the Court until his retirement to Strasbourg in 1715. He had been rector of the Jesuit College there when he donated this work. “L’entourage français de Philippe V d’Espagne a eu un poids important dans la vie politique madrilène durant la première moitié du règne. En son sein, se détache plus particulièrement la figure de confesseur du roi, fonction occupée alternativement par deux jésuites, le P. Guillaume Daubenton et le P. Pierre Robinet. Ces deux personnalités exceptionnelles surent transformer leur charge en un véritable ministère, devenant ainsi des hommes d’Etat et agissant en conséquence dans les affaires du gouvernement.” Catherine Desos. ‘Entre el cielo y la tierra. Las élites eclesiásticas en la Europa Moderna.’

A remarkable binding in beautiful condition.

USTC 154298. Baudrier 9 219 & 10 353. Gültlingen XI p. 53: 23. Index Aureliensis 122022.

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