CLEMENT (fl. 2nd half of 17th century). Devises. ILLUMINATED CALLIGRAPHIC MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM. [Paris: 1677].
2° (378 x 270mm). 5-page calligraphic table on paper with illuminated initial, 114 vellum leaves (250 x 180mm) with verse "madrigal" and painted emblem, the miniatures painted by Pierre-Paul Sevin, nos. 24 and 79 signed "P.Sevin", the latter also dated 1676, each miniature window-mounted into paper leaf, foliated and with gold and blue rule. Contemporary French red morocco, wide gilt dentelle on covers with Louis XIV sun device at corners, gilt spine with small crown tool, olive morocco liners with gilt dentelle, gilt edges, marbled-paper slipcase. Provenance: Pontchartrain library (Louis? Phélypeaux, comte de Pontchartrain, bookplate).
A fine example of a French 17th-century emblem book. The vogue for emblems and allegorical devices fed the love of intrigue and enigma which reached its peak in the reign of Louis XIV. Emblematic elements were principal features in royal fêtes, so much so that they formed virtually an official style at the Sun-King's court. Among the first devices in the present album are a number celebrating events in the life of Louis XIV, including his marriage, the peace between Spain and France which it engendered, on the Dauphin, on Louis's conquest in Holland, on victorious campaigns in 1674, on the acquisition of Dunkerque, etc. A series also celebrates the Duc d'Orleans and his success at Mont Cassel in 1677. Other devices commemorate various members of the French upper classes and aristocracy such as Henrietta Maria, Queen of England and daughter of Henri IV of France, Duc de Beaufort, Cardinal Mazarin, and Pierre Mignard, a prominent painter at the court of Louis XIV. These are followed by two further series, "Devises Galantes" and "Devises Serieuses".
There is little indication for whom the book was made, although it clearly was for someone close to the court of Louis XIV. The events commemorated primarily date from 1676-77, and the addressees are either royalty or close members of the court. The volume was possibly bound for the Phélypeaux library (see below), and it may well have been made for Louis Phélypeaux, comte de Pontchartrain, who was named first president of the Bretagne parliament in 1677, and later became chancellor of France. The miniatures are the work of Pierre-Paul Sevin (1650-1710). After travels and study in Italy, Sevin came to Paris, where he became a member of the corporation of master-painters. He is known primarily as a painter of miniatures for emblem and device books such as the present volume, almanacs and fans. Sevin also designed a display of fireworks for the city of Lyons in July 1692, and it is therefore no surprise that fireworks feature in a number of the miniatures here. (See P. Lespinasse, La Miniature en France au XVIIIe Siècle, Paris: 1929.) Although the binding is unsigned, it clearly is the work of a royal binder. It is identical to many executed for Louis XIV, including the small sun stamps at the corners, and the roll-tools were also used on volumes of architectural drawings by Delamair which were dedicated to and bound for (as a royal gift?) Count Max II Emanuel of Bavaria (F. Geldner, Bucheinbände aus elf Jahrhunderten, Munich: 1958-9, plate LXXXVIII). It may be the work of Claude Le Mire, royal binder until 1698, who is known to have bound for Colbert and Phélypeaux as well as Louis XIV, or it may be the work of De Seuil, binder to the Duke and Duchesse du Berri, whom Olivier (2262) cites as being responsible for the many books in red morocco bound for Louis Phélypeaux.