THOU, Jacques Auguste de.


THOU, Jacques Auguste de. Jobus, sive de constantia libri IIII

Paris, Mamert Patisson and Robert Estienne, 1588


8vo, pp. (xii) 98 (ii). Roman and Italic letter, t-p in red and black with printer’s device, woodcut floriated initials and charming headpieces with animals and foliage. Slight age yellowing, intermittent very light waterstain to upper blank corners. A very good copy in contemporary vellum, covers double gilt ruled, repair to upper edge of both, arms of Jacques Auguste de Thou (Guigard II, 452) gilt stamped at centres within olive wreath, contemporary ms. title to upper, spine gilt ruled with monograms ‘IAM’ of de Thou and his first wife Marie de Barbançon de Cany (c. 1540-1611) in compartments, two ties. Bookplate of Jean Paul Barbier Mueller (1930-2016) to front paste-down.

De Thou’s personal copy of the rare second edition of his poetic paraphrase of the book of Job. A French statesman, historian and bibliophile, Jacques Auguste de Thou (1553-1617)

served Henry III and Henry IV as councillor of state, became director of the royal library in 1593 and president of the Parliament of Paris in 1595. He was a key negotiator in the Edict of Nantes. His outstanding library, famous among contemporaries and open to scholars including foreigners, was one of the most important private libraries of the end of the 16th century, for the quality of its content and its size (it contained an estimated 9,000 volumes in 1617). For the first time, the volumes were systematically bound in rich armorial bindings, changing according to the marital status of their owner. This copy was bound very soon after De Thou’s marriage with his first wife, Marie de Barbançon de Cany, in 1587: interestingly, the monogram on the spine is the one he adopted after the marriage, containing the joined initials of ‘Jacques-Auguste’ and ‘Marie’ (Guigard II, 452), but the covers still bear his first arms as a bachelor. After de Thou’s death, the library was inherited by his son Jacques-Auguste II de Thou in 1642.

“Encouraged by Pierre Pithou [1539-1596, lawyer and scholar], de Thou began work on his paraphrase of the book of Job in late 1584. He consulted the commentary of Jean Mercier and Saint Jerome’s remarks on the original Hebrew text, “in order to unite Hebraic accuracy with Latin grace,” in authentic humanist fashion. Henri Estienne obtained an incomplete copy of de Thou’s poem and showed it to Theodore Beza [1519-1605, theologian] in Geneva. Beza began his own paraphrase of Job, according to de Thou, but his work appeared in print after de Thou’s. De Thou finished his poem in late 1586, and published a small first edition which he sent to his friends for their criticism, just as he had done with Hieracosophioy. The second and third editions, declares de Thou in the Memoirs, were much improved over the first. Joseph Scaliger in particular seems to have aided de Thou to correct his poem, encouraging him to study Hebrew deeply”. (Kinser)  

From the prestigious poetic library of the Swiss collector Jean Paul Barbier-Mueller (1930-2016), founder of the Musée Barbier-Mueller in Geneva.

USTC 170917, Renouard Estienne 187: 1. This ed not in BM STC Fr. C16, Adams, Brunet or Graesse. S. Kinser, The Works of Jacques Auguste de Thou, 1966, p. 211 no. 14. Worldcat and USTC record four copies of this ed. the US (University of Pennsylvania, University of North Carolina, Stanford, Yale)
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