Fantasy Images from the 16th Century: Songes Drolatiques de Pantagruel, 1565
Les songes drolatiques de Pantagruel.
Paris: Richard Breton, 1565. 珍本
With 120 FULL-PAGE WOODCUTS of grotesque figures, an UNIQUE SERIES OF BIZARRE CREATURES considered one of the GREAT PICTORIAL FANTASIES of the French Renaissance, its iconography clearly relating to contemporary images by Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Breughel, as published a decade earlier in Antwerp by Hieronymus Cock. 8vo (159 x 97mm), collates A-G8 2G8. 63 leaves (of 64, lacking blank G8): title, address to the reader + illustrations; printer’s device from title-leaf cut out and replaced with old paper and a small vignette, early German manuscript captions unobtrusively erased. Early 18th century French binding, polished calf, gilt spine, red edges, marbled endpapers, arms of Sir Charles Bagot added in the center of the covers, (extremities rubbed, front joint split). Quarter morocco slipcase.
Provenance: 17th-century German ownership (captions) — Sir Charles Bagot, 1781-1843, governor-general of Canada (supra-libros) — Ralph Sneyd of Keele Hall (gilt armorial white-leather book label), heir of the great manuscript collector Rev. Walter Sneyd (Sotheby sale 16 December 1903) — Edmée Maus of Geneva (book label), her library dispersed by Jammes and Engelberts — Acquired by Arthur and Charlotte Vershbow from Librairie Valette 1973, afterwards auctioned Christies NY (April 2013: lot 46).
First Edition. Rabelais is invoked on the title and in the preface as creator of this Pantagruelist buffoonery, but his name simply serves to advertise the nature of this work. In its preface the anonymous author indicates its purpose is only to amuse, specifically to inspire youth and other “bons esprits” who want to masquerade as in a carnival. By this statement, it may be considered a precursor to early illustrated children’s books. Alltold, a very rare and important work seldom found on the marketplace; a recent census records 14 copies, of which only three are still in private hands. Brun pp. 60, 295; Mortimer French 499; Plan, Bibliographie Rabelaisienne 31 (p. 243); Rawles & Screech 113. Brun, Le Livre Franaise Illustré de la Renaissance pp 60-61 & 295, Rahir, La Bibliotheque de l’Amateur 600. Fact and Fantasy 39.