BIBLE, New Testament, in Greek -- Novum Iesu Christi D.N. Testamentum. Ex bibliotheca regia, in Greek. Paris: Robert Estienne, 1550.
2° (347 x 225mm). Printed in 'grecs du roi' type, pages ruled in red. Estienne's basilisk device as king's printer for Greek texts on title and divisional title, his olive tree on verso of colophon leaf. Eusebian canons on 6 pages set within woodcut frames decorated with cherubs and architectural ornaments. Woodcut foliated and grotesque Greek initials in two sizes with matching headpieces. (Occasional spotting, light browning of page edges, two small abrasions affecting text on *2r, small marginal stain on r2v.)
BINDING: French olive morocco gilt, c. 1570-1580, wide frame of fillets with an oval at corners and centre of sides, the frame filled with foliage and rosettes, central lozenge containing compartments surrounded by foliage and fleurons, smooth spine with repeated volutes surrounding the lettering NOVUM TESTA MENTUM GRAECE at head, gilt edges (spine chipped at head and rubbed along joints, upper joints slightly split, abrasions in top half of upper cover); modern calf-backed box by James Brockman. Cinq siècles d'ornements no. 35; Hobson/Culot2 61.
Provenance: Robert Tulloue (two inscriptions on title) -- Edward Cavendish, 10th Duke of Devonshire (Chatsworth bookplate, press marks '152 D'; sold as 'The Property of the 10th Duke of Devonshire's Charitable Trust', Christie's, London, 24 February, 1982, lot 479, ill.).
AN UNRESTORED BINDING OF APPROPRIATE GRANDEUR FOR THE THE MOST IMPORTANT EDITION OF ESTIENNE'S GREEK NEW TESTAMENT. For this third edition Robert Estienne recorded variant reading from 15 manuscripts, including the Codex Bezae, here used for the first time, printing it with all three fonts of Claude Garamont's 'grecs du roi' type. A striking feature of the binding on this copy is the elegant frame of three fillets, one écarté, filled with branches of curving foliage and rosettes. The ovals in the frame contain a palmette. The central lozenge contains an oval linked to two squares by ribbons in the form of an eight, and the elaborate construction is completed with a palmette at top and bottom. The ornamentation on the spine is of a different type, being based on the repetition of volutes with flower and leaf buds. As Hobson and Culot observe, the overall design on both covers and spine shows movement towards the fanfare style, which began in Paris around 1560 and reached full bloom around 1580-1590. Moreover, specific tools on the binding, the palmette, the fleuron and double volutes at the sides of the lozenge, and the volutes on the spine, closely resemble those used in fanfare designs (see G.D. Hobson, Reliures à la Fanfare, figs. 26, 44, 32). Adams B-1661; Brunet V, 737; Darlow and Moule 4622; Mortimer, Harvard French, 78; Renouard, Estienne, p. 75.1; Schreiber 105; Scholderer, Greek Printing Types, p. 10 (figs. 29-30).