LE MUET, Pierre.


LE MUET, Pierre. Maniere de Bastir Pour touttes fortes de personne.

Paris, Melchior Tavernier, 1623


FIRST EDITION. Folio. Pp. (vi) 114. Roman letter. Engraved architectural frontispiece with classical iconography, historiated and floriated headpieces and initials, imprint in elegant contemp. ms. 53 full page engraved plates in very good impression of floorplans, elevations, ornamentation and detailing of urban buildings ranging from grand hôtels particuliers to modest houses, accompanied by descriptive text. Armorial bookplate on verso of dedication of Conte Carli Rubbi (1748-1825). A handsome, very wide margined and clean copy, occasional marginal ink smudge, pale water stain to some outer margins. In contemp. morocco with exquisite gilt fanfare binding, fleurs de lis on covers surrounding circular wreath around crown, olive wreaths at corners, rectangular concentric borders with lace gilt tools, floral motifs and ornamental borders, spine gilt with fleur de lis tools, a bit worn at head and foot.

The exquisite French gilt fanfare binding is in the style of Nicolas and Clovis Eve, binders to the courts of Henri III, Henri IV and the King at the time of this work, Louis XIII. Eve bindings often have repeating patterns of fleur-de-lis, and this along with the central crown indicates royalty; since Louis XIII was the dedicatee of the work, this copy may well have been bound for presentation either to him or on his behalf.

Beautifully bound first edition of this important work of architectural design by the French architect and military engineer, Pierre Le Muet (1591-1669). Le Muet was a prolific designer of country chateaux and fashionable urban hôtel particuliers for a distinguished clientele including Claude Bouthillier, Michel Particelli d’Emery and Marie de Rohan-Montbazon, duchesse de Chevreuse. Le Muet, from Dijon, had a career as a military engineer from 1617 until 1637, producing architectural theory and writings concurrently. This work is his most important publication, composed of designs for a number of houses in the Parisian mode which were to occupy eleven lots from the simplest most constricted plot of urban land to larger sites. The work is based on the Italian Mannerist architect Sebastiano Serlio’s ‘Architetture, degli habitationi de tutti li gradi degli huomini’. It was widely used and published well into the eighteenth century (Millard p. 261). The plates are delicately engraved showing sophisticated architectural facades and cross sections of town houses with handsome rustication and ornamentation. The buildings are pure, streamlined, and utilise space in an efficient manner. The latter half of the work demonstrates the use of timber framing in order to construct structurally sound and attractive frontages and internal edifices.

Le Muet’s architectural projects include Chavigny in Lerné, the Château de Pont-sur-Seine, the Château de Tanlay, Hôtel de Chevreuse, Hôtel d’Avaux and Hôtel de Ratabon. Le Muet’s close relationship with the church and with the upper echelons of French architects is demonstrated through his involvement with the Church of the Val-de-Grâce, commissioned by Anne of Austria, Queen Consort to Louis XIII. The project was originally headed by the renowned architect François Mansart, taken over by Le Muet and Jacques Lemercier when Mansart disagreed with the Queen Consort over the scope and shape of the large project.

This book belonged to Count Gian-Rinaldo Carli-Rubbi (1720-1795), renowned Italian economist, historian and antiquarian. The Count was appointed by the Venetian Senate to the University of Padua’s newly established professorship of astronomy and navigation at the age of 24. His expertise in economics led him to be appointed head of the economics council by the future emperor, Leopold of Tuscany. He published a number of works studying money, trade, as well as on Italian antiquities, philosophical works, musical and poetic pieces.

Fowler 176 “The engraved title is within a fine architectural border, with title on drapery and imprint in cartouche below.” “They (the plates) contain plans and elevations of medium size city houses in the time of Louis XIII. The last seven treat of a half-timber façade and designs for roof framing. The plates have often been attributed to Jean Marot, but Mauban does not agree with that attribution and suggests Melchior Tavernier as the engraver of this edition.”

Fowler 176; Mauban, Marot p. 49; Millard 94.