CLAUDE LORRAIN [i.e. Claude GELÉE] (1604-1682). Liber veritatis. Or, A Collection of Two Hundred Prints, after the Original Designs ... in the Collection of ... the Duke of Devonshire. London: John Boydell [volumes I-II] and Thomas Davison for Hurst, Robinson, and Co. [volume III], 1777-1819.
3 volumes, 2° (415 x 271mm). Mezzotint portrait frontispieces of Claude Lorrain by Josiah Boydell and Richard Earlom by T. Lupton after G. Steuart in volumes I and III, 300 etched mezzotint and aquatint plates by Earlom after Claude printed in bistre and black, additional variant state of volume I, plate 17 loosely inserted. (Some scattered light spotting, volume III plates 6 and 94 trimmed across platemark, lacking portrait of Boydell in volume III.) Contemporary crushed green morocco gilt, the covers with borders of foliate rolls within broad and narrow rules and pointillé rolls, gilt turn-ins, spines gilt in compartments, lettered in two and at the foot, the others decorated with foliate designs, gilt edges (extremities lightly rubbed, spines faded). Provenance: British Museum (inkstamps on verso of volume I title and verso of volume II, plate 200; 'Duplicate for Sale' blindstamp on margin of volume II, plate 200) -- '3 vols proof impressions' (early pencil inscription on front free endpaper of vol. I).
'A LANDMARK IN THE HISTORY OF REPRODUCTION OF MASTER DRAWINGS' (Abbey). Claude's Liber veritatis was a bound volume in which he drew copies of his own paintings and recorded details of commissions from about 1635. Although there are omissions -- particularly in the early years -- the liber veritatis is a record of a major artist's oeuvre without parallel until the 20th century, and one which served in Claude's own lifetime both as a safeguard against forgeries and as a visual resource. The volume of drawings was eventually acquired by the Dukes of Devonshire, and Boydell's Liber veritatis reproduces both these drawings and examples of Claude's works from the great English collections of the period, including those of Richard Payne Knight, Alderman Hibbert, the Earl Spencer, Charles Lambert, Joseph Farrington, George Gosling, and Edmund Turnor. The accompanying text not only translates and transcribes Claude's annotations on the versos of the drawings, but also gives the names of the contemporary owners of the pictures, and details of engravings of the pictures. The purpose of the work was to establish a corpus of works known to be by the artist, in order to facilitate the detection of forgeries and the correct identification of genuine drawings, and, as Abbey states, the result was 'a real catalogue raisonné'. This is a mixed set comprising early editions of volumes I and II, and a later edition of volume III (1819 rather than 1817). Brunet III, 1169; Cohen-De Ricci col.242; Lewine p.325; Lowndes p.1398; Abbey Life 200 (variant imprints on titles; calling for pp.-14 in vol.I rather than pp.-12 as here). (3)