NICOLAY, Nicolas de, seigneur d'Arfeville (1517-1583). Les Quatre Premiers Livres des Navigations et Peregrinations Orientales. Lyon: Guillaume Rouillé, 1568.
2° (338 x 232 mm). Cancel slip on verso of *3, r3v and x2r with ink eradications over plate descriptions incorrectly printed as in the Harvard copy described by Mortimer. Letterpress title within elaborate woodcut border, woodcut head-piece and initial to dedication, 59 (of 60) engraved plates attributed to Louis Danet after Nicolay, ALL COLORED BY A CONTEMPORARY HAND (lacking plate 14 [uncolored facsimile laid in at end], plate 5 with marginal repairs, portion of left border supplied in ink, plate 34 with small marginal repair). Contemporary French vellum gilt, covers with outer panel of elaborate wide roll of interlaced floral motifs, inner panel with large central arabasque, cornerpieces and an all-over pattern made up of small fleur-des-lys, raised bands on spine, spine compartments decorated with central gilt-stamped lion-heads, all edges gilt (a few skilful repairs); black morocco folding case.
FIRST EDITION, second issue. The first issue is dated 1567 on the title but is otherwise identical to the second. Nicolay was the royal geographer sent by Henri II to Constantinople to join d'Aramont's embassy in 1551. The illustrations are claimed by Nicolay as his own work, and Baudrier assigns them to Louis Danet of whom nothing else is known. This series of engravings has been described as the finest and most influential pictorial introduction of Turkish characters and costumes. Mortimer notes that in the Harvard copy the engravings are variously bound, some mounted on the blank versos, and others pasted back-to-back as plates. In the present copy, all of the engravings are bound separately.
Nicolay accompanied Gabriel d'Aramont, French diplomat and ambassador, on a mission to Constantionople in 1551. While there he wrote this account and sketched the remarkable figures of Levantine men and women in costume. The figures depict Greeks and Arabs, Turks and Armenians, Malteses and Moors, and the plate after p. 105 depicts a Jewish physician. The plate following p.113 of a Qalandrite, member of a dervish fraternity, is often mutilated by readers objecting to its obscenity. This French edition was reprinted and translated into Italian, German, Dutch and English, but only this edition contains the engravings by Danet. This edition also includes the first printing of the 3-page "Elégie" by Pierre Ronsard, dedicated to Nicolay, and not recorded by Seymour de Ricci in his catalogue of Ronsard's writings. Baudrier IX, p.318; Brunet IV:67; Cicognara 1730; Colas 2200 (1567 edition); Harvard/Mortimer French 386 (with the additional plate facing p.144).