DE PLUVINEL, ANTOINE. L’Instruction du Roy en l’exercice de monter à cheval.

Paris, Ruette, 1629.


Folio. Pp. (xx) 254. Double column, Roman and Italic letter, French and German respectively. 58 engraved double page plates of equine training + double page frontispiece, full page portraits of Louis XIII, René de Menou, the Duke de Bellegarde and the author. Ornamental head and tail pieces and initials. Modern bookplate of Ch. Roulleau de La Roussière to pastedown. A few early ll. strengthened at gutter, printed t-p with early red crayon autograph of J.R. van den Rootselaar, ink mark to blank margin of portrait of Menou, and blank verso of portrait of Pluvinel, four prelims with crease, ink spot to lower margin of p. 1, narrow faded ink splash to pl. 37, ink smudge to fore edge of final 20 or so leaves. Engraved double page plates on thick paper in clear, strong impression. A very good, clean copy in modern straight-grained red morocco in the style of the French C18, double fillet border, ornamental spine gilt, aeg.

Impressive, well-margined copy of this important and influential guide to dressage by the French riding master Antoine de Pluvinel (1552-1620), one of the greatest classics of the genre. This is the third edition with French and German text in double columns, in accordance with Pluvinel’s original manuscript. A magnificent full page engraved portrait of Pluvinel’s student, Louis XIII, follows the double page frontispiece, showing the king surrounded by a dynamic scene of allegorical figures and medallion portraits. Following this are three portraits and 58 exquisite plates demonstrating various equine training methods and accomplishments signed by the famed Dutch engraver Crispijn de Passe the Elder (1564-1637). An excellent copy of this important influence on modern dressage. 

Antoine de Pluvinel worked as premier ecuyer to the Duc d’Anjou, later Henri III, and was later appointed as tutor to the young Louis XIII, forming a close relationship with the future King. In 1594 Pluvinel founded the Academie d’Equitation, where generations of French nobility were trained in horsemanship, as well as dancing, etiquette, and fashionable dress. The work was published posthumously by Crispijn de Passe and was edited by Menou de Charnizay. It was an instant success and was reprinted several times and translated into a number of languages.

The contents combine extensive textual description with richly illustrative engravings. It is written in the form of a dialogue between the king and the author. Pluvinel was known for his humane training methods, using positive reinforcement rather than punishment to make horses obedient and to encourage mutual trust, predicating modern training practices. He popularised the rise of single and double pillars in training of collection and levade, always insisting that the horse should be taking pleasure in the work; the secret is in “making the horse enjoy whatever it is doing till it does it of its own free will.” Thanks to Pluvinel’s work, the harsh Italian training methods of Giovanni Pignatelli became obsolete, and the life span and well-being of his horses increased dramatically.

 “Sauf ces légères differences, c’est la meme édon. Dans certains exemplaires, le titre gravé porte 1629.” (Mennessier de la Lance).

Brunet IV 749; Mennessier de la Lance p. 330.
Stock Number: L3729 Categories: , ,