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Exceptionally rare 17th-century flower book with beautiful engravings

WIDT, Frederick de.
Nieuwt[!] Bloem-Boeck.
[Amsterdam], Frederick de Widt[!], [third quarter of the 17th century]. Folio (31 x 20 cm). With 16 full-page, numbered engravings, comprising the title-page and 15 illustrations of flowers. Modern half-vellum with decorative paper sides (gold, sprinkled red, and with green leaf designs), manuscript title on the spine. [16] ll.
€ 15,000
Exceptionally rare flower book by Frederick de Wit (1630-1703), in its first and only edition. The work consists of 15 beautifully executed and highly detailed close-up engravings of various flowers, including tulips and roses. The work is very rare: it is only available in 4 libraries worldwide and we have not been able to trace it in any sales records of the past century.
The Dutch and Flemish were enthusiastic about horticulture in the 17th century and excelled in flower still-life paintings and engravings. They also published numerous flower books during this time period, of which the present work is a splendid example. Frederick de Wit, the publisher of this work, usually either commissioned engravings from well-known artists or re-issued them for his own publications. For another flower book, Recueil de diverses fleurs (1653), he worked with famous flower painter Jan Davidsz. de Heem (1606- ca. 1683). The engravings in the present work were clearly made by a skilled artist, but are unfortunately unsigned.
The outlines of some of the flowers in the present copy are punctured by a former owner, which was typically done to transfer the artwork to another surface. A fine powder, called pounce, would be forced through the holes, which created a dotted outline on a piece of paper placed underneath, allowing the artwork to be easily copied.
The outlines of two flowers on engraving 3 and 14 have been almost invisibly punctured, likely in order to copy the artworks. The front paste-down shows traces of a bookplate that has been removed. The work is somewhat browned and slightly stained throughout. The gutter of the first 2 leaves has been restored with brown paper, very slightly affecting the engraved title-page. Otherwise in good condition. BM, General Catalogue vol 27, p. 357/770; STCN 203854349 (1 copy); USTC 1833672 (1 copy, same as STCN); WorldCat 504762918, 889837418 (4 copies, including the STCN copy); cf. De Hoop Scheffer, Hollstein's Dutch & Flemish engravings, vol. LIII; not in De Bray; Hunt; Nissen.
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