Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Description of Ramelli's Book

Title engraved within an architectural border. An engraved portrait of the the author, designed within a full-page architetural frame 10-3/4 x 7-5/8", on the verso of the title-page. Boththe title and portrait are signed with the monogram of Leonard Gaultier. There are one hundred ninety-four engravings (numbered in the text as cxcv but with cxlxiii and cxlix combined as one illustration). Twenty of these are double-page illustrations; the rest are full-page. Numbers cl, cli, and clii are signed with the monogram "JG". The signature has been read by some bibliographers as that of the younger Jean de Gourmont, and the complete series of engravings is sometimes attributed to him. However, the flourish on the G of the monogram is not characteristic of Gourmont, and the engravings are obviously the work of several hands, undoubetdly an atelier, an Brun suggests (p. 291). The same "JG" engraver signed the Ronsard portrait--copied, reduced, from the "curaiss" portrait of No.463--in Les fvnebres regretz sur la mort da Pierre de Ronsard, Paris, for Guillame Linocier, 1586. The Ramelli machines are concerned principally with hydraulics or mechanism of warfare. The illustrations show the machines in use, with their parts indicated by letters explained in the accompanying text. Each page of text or illustration is printed within a border to type ornaments. Ornamental tailpieces and cornerpieces. Figured initials in the prefatory matter, small arabesque initials in the text. Alternating Italian text in italic letter and French text in roman letter.

FIRST EDITION. Ramelli, an Italian engineer and soldier, came under the patronage of Henri III before Henri's accession to the throne. This volume is dedicated to the the king, and special care was taken to make it appropriate as an expression of gratitude for royal favor and protections. There ws also a second factor governing the circumstances of publication. In his address to the reader, Ramelli complains of piracy of his designs which resulted in their publication in corrupt and mutilated forms, destroying the original accuracy of his inventions. As a result of this experience, Ramelli planned this work as a particularly handsome volume, difficult to counterfeit, strictly supervised by the author himslef and published with the imprint, "is casa del' autore." (pg. 558-559)


From: Mortimer, Ruth (1964). Harvard College Library Department of Printing and Graphic Arts Catalogue of Books and Manuscripts. Part I: French 16th Century Books. Belknap Press, Cambridge.

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