Monday, June 13, 2005

Quick thought: Ramelli, Besson, and edition fecundity

Why was Besson so widely published while Ramelli, arguably a more detailed and beautiful work, was only published once? One reason may be the publication background. Ramelli’s work, for example, was published “a Parigi : In casa del'autore” while Besson’s later editions were published by Vincent in Lyons. More over, we know that Ramelli likely employed Amboise Bachot as engraver and maintained his own plates. Besson, however, had the highly talented Jacques Androuet du Cerceau as engraver. It’s possible that du Cerceau held on to the plates or sold them off to Vincent. Besson couldn’t have opposed the move: he was dead by 1573 having only self-published his work. As noted by Ronald Brashear, the subsequent editions were published by Barthélemy Vincent, included detailed descriptions by François Béroalde de Verville, and featured the original plates (with the exceptions of 17, 35, 39, and 51 which were newly engraved by René Boyvin).

So what was the connection between Besson, du Cerceau, and Vincent? Will we ever know? What does this anomaly mean for documentation?

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