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Biblia Hebraea, Chaldaea, Graeca & Latina

Paris, Robert Estienne, 1538-1540



Third Folio edition by Estienne

4 parts in one volume (433 x 284mm)
Roman, Hebrew and Greek types. Title in an engraved frame. Engraved initials and fleurons
COLLATION : *10 a-z8 A-I8 K-L6 [-]2 Aa8 (missigned) Bb-Mm8 Nn6 AA-KK8 LL10 aa-ll8 mm4 : 564 leaves

ILLUSTRATION : 20 woodcuts executed under François Vatable's supervision
CONTEMPORARY PARISIAN BINDING ATTRIBUTED TO THE WORKSHOP OF THE "BINDER OF THE AESOPUS OF MAHIEU". Light brown morocco, gilt medallion in center and large composition of gilt fillets on sides, spine gilt, edges gilt
PROVENANCE : Claude III de L'Aubespine (1544-1570), Secretary of State to King Charles IX (mark of his library in brown ink "1452" between two horizontal lines on first endpaper) -- manuscript note on the endpaper "bought one hundred forty books, May 16, 1652" – other manuscript note on the endpaper "Donated by Abbot Valette, First Vicar Emeritus of Ste Madeleine, deceased August 29 1901, to Abbot Morel, Vicar of St Madeleine" -- Frances Mary Richardson Currer (ex-libris) -- Hans Furstenberg (ex-libris) -- Lardanchet (cat. 67, 1974, n° 11)

This copy was bound for Claude III de L’Aubespine (1544-1570), Secretary of State to Charles IX, and a recently discovered collector of the time. The first free endpaper bears the singular brown mark of his daughter Madeleine de Villeroy's inventory. As with all copies today known to have belonged to him, he had it bound in morocco, which explains the remarkable quality of its preservation. Only a handful of books bound for Claude de L'Aubespine are currently held in private hands. The most iconic are the Vitruve of Pierre Berès' collection, the gold powered Poliphile of the Esmérian collection today in the Jean Bonna collection, and the Serlio of the Getty collection. The interlacing decor and tool used in the corners of this binding are characteristic of the workshop known as "Esope de Mahieu". Its similarity to the Boccace (1545) by Etienne Roffet (Thomas Scheler, June 2000, n°6) is striking. The tool used in the corners is the same as the one adorning the Herodianus that was owned by L’Aubespine (Paris, 29 November 2006, n° 259).

This third Folio edition edited by Estienne, and the only illustrated one, was corrected on at least sixteen manuscripts. The text of this monumental edition makes up the basis of the official Vulgate : from then on, the publisher refused to make any corrections to the text, but indicated in the margins the variations encountered and abbreviations of the manuscripts in which he found them. The goal was no longer to provide an improved Latin text, which strove towards an ideal text modeled on the Greek, but rather to recover the original Latin version of the Vulgate with as much precision as possible, allowing the reader to verify the origin of the chosen solutions. These thereby lead to the first critical edition of the Bible, through the development of a critical apparatus. Estienne reprinted this Vulgate in 1546.

REFERENCES : Renouard, Annales de l'imprimerie des Estienne, 48-49 -- Darlow & Moule, 6117 -- Schreiber, The Estiennes, 59 -- Isabelle de Conihout and Pascal Ract-Madoux, "Ni Grolier, ni Mahieu : Laubespine" in Bulletin du bibliophile (2004, 1, p. 63-87) -- Adams B1022 -- Mortimer, French 16th c., 68 – Van Praet, Livres imprimés sur vélin ; bibliothèque du Roi, I, p. 31, n° 27 – Chambers, Bibliography of French Bibles, I, p. 64, n° 59