12 June 2009
PARIS 1650 -- CORNEILLE, Pierre (1606-84). Andromède Tragédie. Representée avec les Machines sur le Theatre Royal de Bourbon. Rouen: Laurens Maurry; for sale at Paris: Charles de Sercy, 13 August 1651.
4o (212 x 160 mm). Engraved frontispiece by FRANÇOIS CHAUVEAU, 6 folding engraved and etched plates by Chauveau after the designs by GIACOMO TORELLI (1608-78) and perhaps CHARLES ERRARD (1606-89). Woodcut title-vignette, headpiece and initials. (Frontispiece shaved, plate numbers cut into.) Red morocco gilt, gilt edges, by Godillot. Provenance: Emile Rossignol (cat. 154, no. 64, sold to Gourary 1972).
Second edition, FIRST ILLUSTRATED EDITION of the great Corneille's "machine" play, of which he himself confessed: "Cette pièce n'est que pour les yeux." It was commissioned by Queen Anne and Mazarin in order to make the fullest use of Torelli's marvelous scenic inventions. The theme was derived from Ovid's Metamorphoses, the music was composed by Charles Coypeau d'Assouci, but there was no singing. It was in Venice, the opera center of Europe, that Torelli had originally developed and operated his machinery for rapid changes of heavy sets. Chauveau's plates illustrating the prologue and each of the five acts splendidly document Torelli's creations and French Baroque stage design. Molière owned a copy of this book and somewhat later restaged the play with the same machinery. Per Bjurström, Giacomo Torelli 147-57; Hofer, Baroque Book Illustration 43; Paul Lacroix, Iconographie Moliéresque, 2nd ed. (1876) 236; D. Oenslager, Stage Design (Viking Press 1975) p. 44; Tchémerzine II, 562.
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