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Beautiful prints of early Christian hermits living in the desert

LEU, Thomas de (or de LEEUW) [drawn by Marten de VOS].
[engraved title:] Solitudo sive vitae patrum eremicolarum per antiquissimu[m] Patrem D. Hieronimu[m] eorundem primarium olim conscripta iam vero primum aeneis laminis. 1606. Thomas de Leu. excudit.
[Paris], Thomas de Leu, 1606. Small oblong folio (19 x 25.5 cm). With an engraved allegorical title-page including a 2-line quotation from Hebrews 11:37-38, and 29 engraved prints (plate size ca. 15 x 19 cm: mostly numbered, but a few unnumbered or irregularly numbered) illustrating the lives of the early Christian hermits living in the desert, 7 signed by Thomas de Leu as printer-publisher, in 2 cases accompanied by the monogram "NB" (the engraver Nicolaes de Bruyn). Gold-tooled blue goatskin morocco (ca. 1890?) by Bernard David (or his son Salvador David) in Paris (signed with a stamp - in sans-serif capitals - in the corner of the first free endleaf "DAVID"). [1], 29 engraved ll.
€ 2,500
Finely engraved title-page and prints depicting the lives of hermits living in the desert as described by Hieronymus in his famous Vitae patrum. The engraved title-page and prints were printed and published by Thomas de Leu or de Leeuw (1560-1612), a Flemish engraver in Paris, who probably engraved many himself. He had begun his career in Antwerp, and some of the prints signed by him ("excud[it]") also bear the NB monogram of the engraver Nicolaes de Bruyn (1571-1656) in Antwerp. The Antwerp painter Maarten de Vos (1531/32-1603) had drawn numerous hermit scenes: four series engraved, printed and published by Johannes I Sadeler (ca. 1550-ca. 1600) and his brother Raphael I Sadeler (1560-1632), who continued alone with three further series, making in total seven series containing 7 engraved title-pages and 107 prints, all published at Antwerp, at least the first series in or before 1584. De Leu and De Bruyn very skillfully copied all seven series, including the title-pages and captions. The present selection includes the title-page of the first series Solitudo, which originally contained 29 prints, but only 16 of the present 29 prints come from that series: prints 26 (with the 6 erased to make "2"), 4-5, 7, 9-10, 12, 14-16, 19-22, 27, 29. The other 13 are taken from series 2 Sylvae [1] (1 print), 3 Trophaeum [1] (5 prints), 4 Oraculum (1 print), 5 Sylvae [2] (2 prints) and 6 Trophaeum [2] (4 prints). Whoever assembled the present selection revised the number of print 26 in the first series to use it as print 2, placed some prints from the other series where their print numbers indicated, revised print numbers in others to fill the remaining gaps, left a few irregularly numbered and 1 unnumbered. Prints 7, 9, 10, 16, "19" [= 18], 27, 28 are signed by Thomas de Leu and in 9 and 16 also an NB-monogram.
Bernard David (1824-1895) studied under Lortic and other leading Paris bookbinders before setting up on his own there. His son Salvador (d. 1929) took over the workshop in 1890. The (laid) endpapers show no watermark. With aa small marginal tear repaired, occasional minor marginal spots, and a few tiny and insignificant scuff marks on the edges of the binding. Book and binding otherwise in very good condition and with ample margins. Hollstein XXI, pp. 147-155, nos. 377-450 & pp. 240-245, nos. 118-157 (the Sadeler eds., but noting the De Leu eds. at the end of each series); www.calcografica.it (many of the prints in these De Leu series); for De Leu also: Benezit 6, p. 623; Thieme-Becker 23, pp. 143-144.
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Art, architecture & photography  >  Drawings, Prints & Watercolours
Book history, education, learning & printing  >  Bindings
Early printing & manuscripts  >  Religion & Devotion
Religion & devotion  >  Church History & Missions