Paris, Antoine Saultereau 1631.
Tall Folio (410 x 272 x 82 mm.). 299 leaves. TWENTY-ONE ILLUSTRATED SUITES WITH TWO THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY-THREE INTAGLIO PORTRAITS and one suite of text only. The main title has a wide etched cartouche of military scenes in FINE CONTEMPORARY COLOR AND HEIGHTENED IN GOLD with contemporary quartered arms painted in gold on a blue and red ground (three crescents in 1 and 4, lion rampant in 2 and 3). A letterpress Contents leaf follows, text on the recto in a fleuron frame and the verso blank. Each suite has its own letterpress title in an elaborate woodcut gristle-work cartouche.
Contemporary red morocco gilt à la Du Seuil with outer and inner rule frames and corner fleurons (panels scuffed, front stained, hinges and corners neatly repaired), sewn on seven bands, spine richly gilt in corner-and-center design, marbled pastedowns, blank free endleaves, gilt-lettered spine title CHRONOLOGIG [sic] GENERALES, all edges gilt.
THIS BEAUTIFUL AND COMPLEX HYBRID BOOK BINDS ART, COLLECTING, INSTRUCTION AND ENTERTAINMENT. It was destined for a curiosity cabinet (Man in miniature), an artist or artisan (patterns of ornament, arms and armor, textiles, needlework, precious gems, hair styles, furs and ecclesiastical fashion), a collector of heads, a historian or a wealthy family to home-school women and children in secular, sacred, cultural and military history.
The present example has twenty-one illustrated individual narratives, spanning Eastern and Western rulers, biblical figures, intellectuals, statesmen, nobles, clerics and pagan gods. The iconography expressly draws on coins, medals, statuary, painting, architecture, manuscripts and printed books.
The most celebrated series, Famous Frenchmen since 1500 (here no. 18), was cut by Léonard Gaultier. We find Vesalius, Fernel, Rondelet, Joubert, Paré, Belon, Erasmus, Scaliger, Ramus, Nostradamus, Gaguin, de Thou, Budé, Alciati, Hotman, Mercator, Ortelius, Thevet, Rabelais, Marot, Ronsard, the Du Bellays, Robert Estienne, Plantin, Garamond and one hundred twenty more soldiers, aristocrats, lawyers, poets, politicians and painters, INCLUDING THE ONLY KNOWN PORTRAITS OF ARTISTS FRANÇOIS CLOUET AND GERMAIN PILON. For more information about those in this pantheon, the Advertissement directs the reader to Sainte-Marthe’s biographies, Rouillé’s Promptuaire des Medailles and the bibliographies of Du Verdier and Gesner. Another unusual feature is the incorporation of thirteen small views and buildings in the suite devoted to Savoy (14), while in the Kings of Naples we find the latest dated event (1631, matching the year given in the imprint of the finely colored main title). Wholly letterpress, the final suite (22) is a universal history from Creation to the mid-1620s.
The Chronologie collée, or “glued history”, exploited a loophole in the law barring print dealers from selling codices and directly competing with the book trade. The printsellers circumvented this restriction by commissioning broadsides of numbered intaglio portraits and broadsides of numbered letterpress biographies — both to be divided — and support sheets with four elaborate fleuron frames (two per side), their centers blank, each support sheet to be folded once.
The broadside sets of illustration and text were to be cut into strips and the numbered portraits and numbered lives paired. The matched strips were then sequentially mounted within the support sheets’ fleuron frames and lastly supplied with a woodcut and letterpress title leaf to make a bespoke illustrated biographical folio of from eight to twenty-five leaves, available independently or in established collections. Dismemberment and assembly could be done in the shop of the print dealer, by a binder, by the buyer as a family project or, as likely the case with this carefully planned and executed volume, by a purveyor of personal luxury items and interior furnishings (marchand-mercier) such as Antoine Saultereau.
To meet varying demand, each of the three components — intaglio, letterpress and support sheets — could be produced as needed, so this volume presents the work of several or many shops over some years, as evidenced by the series with four different generations of letterpress (21). Conversely, shared fleurons tie fourteen series to the same still anonymous printer (1, 4, 5- 6, 8-9, 12, 14-20).
The series are (in order, titles translated): 1. Hebrew Patriarchs (112 portraits, 9 leaves total), 2. Sibyls (12 ports., 8ff.), 3. Pagan Gods and Goddesses (59 ports., 9ff.), 4. Persian Kings and Queens (53 ports., 13ff.), 5. Roman Emperors (295 ports., 25ff.), 6. Rulers of Constantinople (84 ports., 13ff.), 7. Popes (247 ports., 13ff.), 8. French Kings and Queens (158 ports., 2 coats of arms, 23ff.), 9. Spanish Kings and Queens (185 ports., 25ff.), 10. English Kings (138 ports., 11ff.), 11. Portuguese Kings and Queens (47 ports., 11ff.), 12. Rulers of Naples (29 ports., 15ff.), 13. Polish Kings (45 ports., 7ff.), 14. Rulers of Savoy (59 ports., 13 views, 9ff.), 15. Venetian Doges (96 ports., 13ff.), 16. Dukes of Brabant (93 ports., 13ff.), 17. Masters of the Knights of St. John (55, 13ff.), 18. Famous Frenchmen (144, 13ff.), 19. Chancellors of France (99 ports., 13ff.), 20. Jurists of Roman Law (66 ports., 9ff.), 21. Latin (and Neolatin) Poets (96 ports., 9ff.), 22. Universal Chronology (text only, 23ff.).
Contemporary manuscript title inscription Ex libris Courtin de Rozay, bookplate and stamps of aristocrat and military officer and scientist François-César Le Tellier, marquis de Courtanvaux (1718-1781), bookplate of marquis Hubert de Ganay, who inherited the collections of Martine-Marie-Pol de Béhague, comtesse de Béarn (1870-1939). The whole is in fine condition.
¶Lipperheide, Katalog der…Kostümbibliothek Ab4; Zerner, “Lettre à Margret à propos de la Chronologie Collée” in Correspondances: Festschrift für Margret Stuffmann zum 24. November 1996 ed. Bauereisen (1996) 81-89; see Duportal’s Contribution au catalogue général des livres à figures du XVIIe siècle 461 and Universal Catalogue of Books on Art I: 289 and Brunet I: 1891 & Suppl. II: 836 and Destailleur’s Catalogue de livres rares (1891) 438-39.