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Bernard de Fontenelle
Œuvres diverses,

19, 500 

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Superb collective first edition
of Fontenelle’s Œuvres illustrated by Picart.

A splendid copy,
one of the few printed on large paper of folio format,
contemporary bound in morocco with the arms of
Samuel Bernard, “the kings’s banker”.


Fontenelle. Œuvres diverses de M. de Fontenelle, de l’Académie Françoise. Nouvelle édition, Augmentée & enrichie de Figures gravées.
La Haye, Gosse & Neaulme, 1728-1729.

3 parts in 3 folio [374 x 240 mm] volumes of : I/ (5) ll., 376 pp., (1) l. for the frontispiece and 3 figures ; II/ (4) ll., 440 pp. and 1 figure ; III/ (3) ll., 434 pp. and 1 figure.

Dark blue morocco, triple gilt fillets around the covers, arms stamped in gilt in the center, richly decorated ribbed spine, lettering pieces in red morocco, double gilt fillets on leading edges, inner gilt roll-stamp, gilt over marbled edges. Contemporary binding.

Superb collective first edition of Fontenelle’s Œuvres illustrated by Picart.

Tchemerzine, III, 332; Cohen, 217-218 ; Catalogue De Backer, Supp., 347 ; Catalogue du baron Pichon, 3712 ; Bulletin Morgand et Fatout, 6725 et 9807 ; Berny, n°35.

One of the few printed on large paper of folio format, with the text framed.

Superb illustrations.  6 frontispeces or drawings by B. Picart, 1 with the portrait of Fontenelle engraved by Picart, based on Rigaud, 2 fleurons on the titles and 174 vignettes and tail-pieces by B. Picart.” (Cohen)

A beautiful edition decorated with numerous and most remarkable head and tail pieces.” (Bulletin Morgand et Fatout)

This edition contains Fontenelle’s major works : les Dialogues des morts, les Entretiens sur la pluralité des mondesL’Histoire des oracles, L’éloge des Académiciens…

Fontenelle, who lived to be 100, met with great success while alive and, more so than Fénelon, represented the transition between the 17th and the 18th century.

He surpassed all others because of his assurance and the diversity of his knowledge and because of the tranquil certainty that he had of the progress of the modern world; like Voltaire a century later with Newton, he sought to instill in the mentality of his time a new vision of the world that came from Copernic and Descartes’ discoveries. When the famous quarrel between the Ancients and the Moderns erupted, Fontenelle aligned himself with the latter. He affirmed his contemporaries’ superiority over Homer, Plato and Demosthene because, he said “having climbed upon their shoulders, we have a better view”.” (Dictionnaire des Auteurs)

A precious and superb copy, one of the few printed on large paper of folio format, preserved in its contemporary morocco binding with the arms of Samuel Bernard (1651-1739).

Samuel Bernard was one of the most famous merchants whose wealth considerably grew during the ministry of Chamillard ; his fortune was immense and he put it to good use ; he also loaned considerable sums to Louis XIV and Louis XV. He was an advisor to the king.” (O. Hermal, pl.1042)

The copies printed on large paper, bound in contemporary armorial morocco, are infinitely rare.

Cohen mentions none.

A copy on large paper and red morocco, 500 fr. Catalogue Morgand ; another, also in red morocco and elaborate dentelles, 1905 fr. Béhague sale ; another, binding with dentelles by Padeloup, 1700 fr. Silvestre de Sacy sale. » (Cohen)

2 copies are mentioned in similar condition : the one Madame de Pompadour sold at the considerable price of 2 200 000 f (330 000 €) 39 years ago and the one bound in blue morocco with the arms of the duke d’Aumont sold 250 000 F (38 000 €) in December 2000, 16 years ago.

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