24 June 2009
RENEAULME, Paul de (1560-1624) and Jacques-August de THOU (1553-1617). Specimen historiae plantarum. Paris: Hadrianus Beys, 1611.
2 parts in one volume, 4o (220 x 168 mm). Printer's woodcut device on title, 25 engraved plates. (Title-page repaired, some spotting, lacking a4 and V4 blanks.) 18th-century paneled calf (rebacked, some wear at edges). Provenance: The Library at Chelsea Garden (gifted to): Society of Apothecaries (bookplate); Wilfrid Blunt (1901-1987), British art historian and author (penciled signature dated "1947"" on front free endpaper).
FIRST EDITION of this important but neglected work. WILFRID BLUNT'S COPY, of which he enthusiastically writes: "Its etchings... are of the highest quality, exquisitely sensitive and extremely personal in treatment. They are assuredly the work, not only of a great lover of nature, but of a great master of the etcher's craft. It would be as impertinent to attempt to colour them as it would be to apply a water-colour wash to the etchings of Rembrandt" (Blunt). A physician and native of Blois, Reneaulme was ahead of time in showing the necessity of plant classification, but unfortunately the book created no stir amongst his contemporaries. Part two includes twenty-four leaves containing de Thou's five poems on flowers. Blunt The Art of Botanical Illustration pp.103-104; Hunt 192; Nissen BBI 1621; Pritzel 7542; Stafleu & Cowan TL2 9073.
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