Van der Meulen’s collection,
certainly the most beautifully illustrated book of the 17th century.
A superb copy, complete with its 34 etchings
measuring for the most part 1350 x 325 mm,
and preserved in its contemporary morocco with the arms of Louis XIV.
Van der Meulen. [Campagnes du Roi Louis XIV dans les Flandres].
Recueil de 34 estampes, la plupart doubles ou plusieurs fois repliées, illustrant les vues, marches et autres sujets servant à l’Histoire de Louis XIV gravées d’après Van der Meulen.
Paris, Imprimerie Royale, 1675.
Large folio [565 x 444 mm]. Red morocco, double frame of triple gilt fillets with the crowned royal cipher in the corners, arms stamped in gilt in the center, ribbed spine decorated with the crowned royal cipher repeated 6 times inside fleur-de-lis and a fleur-de-lis roll-stamp, gilt roll-stamp on leading edges, inner fleur-de-lis gilt roll-stamp, gilt edges. Contemporary binding.
First edition and first issue of the most beautiful collection of engravings of the 17th century, printed on Louis XIV’s order.
It is made up of 34 very beautiful etchings very representative of Louis XIV’s reign.
12 plates are present twice, 22 three times and 11 four times (1 350 x 325 mm).
They evoke the life at the courts of Vincennes, Versailles and Fontainebleau, and then the campaign of Flanders.
They all present real artistic qualities and are staged, in front of architectural backgrounds, with groups of individuals or riders represented in a very life-like manner.
The 34 etchings drawn by Van der Meulen were engraved by R. Bonnart, Baudouin, Van Huchtenburg and Simoneau.
“A student of Peter Snayers, Van der Meulen learned from him how to draw horses and also the light and transparent technique of the Rubens school.
He was charged with making the models for the tapestries representing Louis XIV’s exploits and he accompanied the king in all of this travels and wars.
His paintings faithfully represent the composition of the troops and also some of the costumes of some individuals, making this a precious historical document.
When he accompanied the king in his campaign of Flanders in 1667, Franche-Comté in 1668 and Holland in 1672, he took every day orders from the king regarding which episodes the king wanted to see represented. He drew the camps, the location of the armies and sieges according to what he saw. His paintings of the armies on duty are perfect.” (Benezit, VII, 366-367)
The collection is organized as such:
It opens with 5 beautiful etchings representing Louis XIV and the court in Paris or the castles of Vincennes, Versailles and Fontainebleau :
-The departure of the king from Paris, on the Pont-Neuf, with a superb architecture of Paris.
-A view of the Château de Vincennes.
– A view of the Château de Versailles.
– A view of the Château de Versailles, from the Orangerie side.
– A view of the Château de Fontainebleau, in a garden side view (1350 x 325 mm).
29 superb etchings are then dedicated to the campaigns of Flanders and Franche-Comté.
Representing the towns of Courtrai, Tournai, Audenaerde, Louvain, Dinant, Lille, Luxembourg, Arras, Bethune, Calais, Dunkerque, Douai (2 views), the Passage du Rhin, Maestricht, Valenciennes, Cambrai (2 views), St-Omer, le Mont Cassel, Besançon, Dole, Gray, St-Laurent de la Roche (2 views), the Château Ste-Anne and the Château de Foux, they are all staged over architectural backgrounds, with, in the foreground, trees and lively groups, all elegantly portrayed, with a superb sense of movement by Van der Meulen.
A superb volume, preserved in its sparkling red morocco binding with the arms and crowned cipher of Louis XIV.