The Œuvres by Desportes,
preserved in its contemporary limp vellum.
“Last edition published while the author was still alive,
very complete, very beautiful and rightly esteemed.” (Tchemerzine)
Desportes, Philippe. Les premières Œuvres. Dernière édition revue et Augmentée.
Paris, Mamert Patisson, 1600.
8vo [170 x 103 mm] of (8) ll., 338 ll., (6) ll.
Contemporary limp vellum, some links still vaguely present, handwritten title on back. Contemporary binding.
The most sought-after edition of Desportes ; the last to be published while he was still alive.
Tchemerzine, II, 890 ; Brunet, II, 647 ; Rahir, Bibliothèque de l’amateur, 399 ; Rahir, Catalogue, V, 1322 ; Rothschild, I, 740 ; Le Petit, 98.
“Last edition published while the author was still alive, very complete, very beautiful and rightly esteemed.” (Tchemerzine).
“One of the most beautiful editions of his poetry.” (Brunet)
“The most sought-after.”
On the title is a small mark by Mamert Patisson with the motto “Noli altum sapere, sed time”.
Then there are some verses by Germain Vaillant de la Guesle, Jean Dorat, Jean-Antoine de Baïf, J. Grojari, Des Yveteaux, Fr. Chouayne, Biard and an author who signed M. D. L. with the motto “Et florida pungent” : the collection ends with two Latin pieces by Jean Dorat.
Protected by Henri IV after having been one of Henri III’s advisor and close collaborator, Philippe Desportes represents an important transition between the Pléiade and Malherbe.
He best reveals himself in “Amours”, a series of pieces of circumstance requested by the greats, where he identifies with the Lover. His “Amours d’Hippolyte”, his masterpiece in regards to metaphors, was written upon the request of a gentleman in love with Marguerite de Valois during the years 1572-1573, maybe Bussy d’Amboise.
Attacked by Malherbe, and defended by his own nephew Mathurin Régnier, it is nonetheless true that Desportes is a sort of precursor of Malherbe in that he sought to simplify vocabulary and write clear and vigorous prose.
Six years before his death, the abbot of Bonport decides to assemble a definitive edition of his first works.
He entrusts this job to one of the greatest Parisian printers of his time, Mamert Pâtisson, who had wed in 1578 the widow of Robert II Estienne, for whom he worked as a proofreader, and who had become the king’s printer that same year.
It is in these terms that La Croix du Maine would judge the successor of the Estiennes, depositary of the brand “à l’olivier” : “He only chooses good copies written by intelligent men, and he prints them quite correctly, with a nice font, on good paper and with wide margins, which are all signs of perfect printing ; in such, he does not stray from the Estiennes, whose house he has allied himself with.”
This edition distinguishes itself by the finesse of the italics and the elegance of its presentation : margins, font, fleurons, decorated initials at the head of every piece.
If this edition, « the last to be published while the author was still alive, very complete, very beautiful and rightly esteemed », is not rare, it is rarely in such a good contemporary condition.
An attractive copy, wide-margined (170 mm), preserved in its contemporary limp vellum.
The copy belonging to the baron Pichon, considered to be superb, measured 166 mm in height (bound in the 19th century by Chambolle Duru, it was sold 16 000 € in June 2004), the Backer copy measured 159 mm ; the mainstream copies don’t go over 155 mm.
Provenance : Library of Turgot, with handwritten ex-libris.