PARIS 1581 -- BEAUJOYEULX, Baltasar de (c. 1535-87). Balet comique de la Royne, faict aux nopces de Monsieur le Duc de Ioyeuse & madamoyselle de Vaudemont sa soeur. Paris: Adrien Le Roy, Robert Ballard and Mamert Patisson for Jacques Patin, 1582.
M4o (242 x 170 mm). Collation: a4 e4, A-T4, including 53 pages of typographical musical notation; 8 full-page etchings of the entertainment and 18 large etchings of pictorial medallions, designed by JACQUES PATIN, one full-page engraving of the Queen's arms, printers' woodcut device on title, woodcut initials and headpieces. (A few small marginal stains.) Contemporary vellum over flexible boards, gilt fillets added (a few tiny repairs to the binding, ties missing), morocco pull-off case. Provenance: Mealhe (contemporary inscription on title); Baron Jérôme Pichon (purchase inscription 1895, 1897 Paris sale, lot 960); Sylvain Brunschwig (bookplate, 1955 Geneva sale, lot 321); Lathrop Harper (sold to Gourary 1955).
VERY FINE COPY OF THE FIRST EDITION. This famous early dramatic fusion of ballet, opera and poetry was commissioned by the Queen of France, LOUISE DE LORRAINE (1553-1601), as part of the festivities celebrating the marriage of her sister, MARGUÉRITE DE VAUDEMONT (1564-1625), to ANNE, DUC DE JOYEUSE (1561-1587), King Henri III's favorite. The subject is Circe's enchantment of Ulysses and his companions and the triumph of the combined gods, representing the French King. It was a coherent choreographic and musical spectacle, staged in the vast Salle Bourbon of the old Louvre palace and lasting from ten in the evening until three the following morning. The dancing master Baltazarini, called Beaujoyeux, conceived the production, Patin designed it; La Chesnaye, Salmon and Beaulieu composed the music and poetry. Patin was also responsible for the splendid illustrations in the book, including a view of the spectators -- among them the King and his mother, Catherine de' Medici -- and the decorated sets in the hall, without proscenium or separate stage area; elaborate chariots, including the fountain that carried the Queen; sirens, tritons, allegorical figures and other participants in the drama. The gold medallions were presented by the Queen and nymphs of the ballet, all ladies of the court, to the King and noblemen in the audience.
For analyses of the author's new art form of court ballet, based mainly on this book, see H. Prunières, Le ballet de cour en France avant Benserade et Lully (1914); F.A. Yates, The French Academies of the sixteenth century (1947); M.M. McGowan, L'Art du ballet de cour en France (1963); and Lincoln Kirstein, Four Centuries of Ballet (1984). The Royal privilege for the book was issued to Jacques Patin and the peintre ordinaire du roi et de la reine was presumably its private publisher. The etchings are in sharp impressions, with full margins. RARE with the plates in uncropped and unshaved condition. Vinet 477; Ruggieri 314; Picot, Rothschild II, 1445; Destailleur 220; Harvard/Mortimer French 48.