FURTTENBACH, Joseph Architectura universalis.

Ulm, J.S. Medern, 1635


FIRST EDITION. Folio. pp. (ii) (xxiv) 159 (i), without added author’s engraved portrait as usual. Large Gothic letter. T-p in red and black with typographic border, 61 double-page engraved plates (1 unnumbered, 5 folding), decorated initials, head- and tailpieces. Margins of t-p a bit thumbed, small interlinear repair, faint water stain at upper gutter or to upper outer corner of few gatherings, slight marginal foxing, couple of tears to lower margin, small marginal hole to plate 37 just touching border, one to p. 77 touching catchword on verso, few ll. lightly age yellowed, tiny worm holes to blank upper outer corners, plate 60 minimally torn at fold. A good copy in slightly later half vellum over marbled boards, modern paper label to spine, little rubbed, C18 inscription ‘N.181 Zimmermann (?) Bland(?)’ to upper blank margin of first plate, contemporary inscription ‘Exemplari Collegii (?) Wengensis Ulmo (?)’ to t-p.

Good, clean copy of the first edition of this handsomely illustrated, influential work on military architecture and shipwrighting. Of 11 German copies we have been able to consult, only 4 have the additional author’s engraved portrait whilst the remaining 7, like this one, do not; no portrait is recorded in US copies. Born in Germany, Joseph Furttenbach (1591-1667) spent twenty years in Italy to train as a merchant with his uncles; he also studied engineering and architecture developing a side-interest in scenic design for theatre plays and pageants, several of which he described in detail. ‘Architectura univeralis’ is features material from his previous works—‘Architectura civilis’ (1628), ‘navalis’ (1629) and ‘martialis’ (1638)—all published in Ulm, where he settled to take up a position as city architect in 1621. Part I is devoted to military architecture with observations on the choice of the right terrain and material, as well as suitable designs for walls, barracks, bridges and casemates according to their location and purposes. Part II is devoted to civil architecture including gardens, baths and lazaretti. ‘Furttenbach’s approach is by different building types…his discussion includes [some] not often discussed in his time, such as schools, hostels, barracks, prisons and hospitals. His projects are extremely functional in conception. Thus he evolves a three-storey “burgher’s house”…in which the object of every room is precisely defined…[he] even goes so far as to include the furnishings of several rooms in his plans’ (Kruft, ‘History of Architecture’, 174). Part III discusses how to fortify rivers and inlets, and design functional war ships as well as efficient and safe ports and harbours. Part IV illustrates the construction of armories with handsomely illustrated cannons and ammunitions. The striking engraved plates, signed ‘M.R.’, are used as a guideline throughout as the index lists each subject linking it to its illustration. A strikingly encyclopaedic, beautifully illustrated work.

BL Ger. C17 F1370 (one of three recorded with author’s engraved portrait); Fowler 132 (no portrait recorded).

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