4 December 2018
THEVET, André (1516-1590). Les Singularitez de la France Antarctique. Paris: heirs of Maurice de la Porte 1558.
One of the first illustrated reports of Brazil, first edition, second issue. Only one copy of the 1557 issue has ever appeared at auction; this issue, in which only the date on the title is changed, is the earliest obtainable. Thevet accompanied Nicolas Durand de Villegagnon as a chaplain on his expedition to establish a French Protestant colony in South America. “Thevet is to a certain extent one of the first writers to confront the dilemma … [that] his traditional scientific training and the categories of European thought are insufficient, even inadequate, to the understanding of this new reality” (Marcondes). His account, accompanied by striking woodcuts attributed to Jean Cousin, includes the first European descriptions and depictions of South American species such as sloths, anteaters, and the toucan. The illustrations were a major influence on de Bry and Merian, as well as an important source for natural historians like Conrad Gesner and Ulisse Aldrovandi.
Thevet includes an entire chapter on Florida, as well as one of the earliest descriptions of Canada, which provides the first depiction of cigar smoking. Church suggests that this information comes from Cartier, while others have suggested that Thevet stopped in Canada on his journey back to France. Arents 8; Borba de Moraes II 857-858; Church 109; JCB I 225; Sabin 95339; see Danilo Marcondes, “The Anthropological Argument: The Rediscovery of Ancient Skepticism in Modern Thought,” in Skepticism in the Modern Age, pp. 46-48.
Quarto (224 x 157mm). Woodcut arms on title of Cardinal de Sens, the dedicatee; 41 woodcut illustrations, 11 of which full-page; numerous decorative initials and head-pieces. 19th-century red morocco by Chambolle-Duru, edges gilt. Provenance: some early manuscript corrections.
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