COMMINES (Philippe de)

Lot 25
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30000 - 40000 EUR
COMMINES (Philippe de)
Les Mémoires. Revueus et corrigez par Denis Sauvage de Fontenailles en Brie, sur un Exemplaire pris à l'original de l'Autheur, & suyvant les bons Historiographes & Croniqueurs. Paris, [Guillaume Morel for] Galiot du Pré, 1561. In-folio, brown morocco, framed with a roulette, large gilt decoration on the boards consisting of two large compartments drawn by fillets and leather scrolls at the corners, the whole decorated with branches and fleurs-de-lis, coat of arms at the head, the two compartments separated by a mention in gilt capitals on four lines (different on each board), smooth spine decorated with a branching decoration, gilt and chiselled edges (Binding of the second half of the 16th century)
Edition dedicated to Henry II, printed in Roman type, the title placed in a large woodcut frame.
Present copy, in an extraordinary and very precious 16th century "epigraphic binding", decorated with foliage and leather scrolls. It bears, in two large rectangular cartouches, two inscriptions in the form of different quatrains for each plate, and at the head of both plates the coat of arms of the Duke of Anjou surrounded by the collar of the Order of Saint Michael.
These two inscriptions transcribe the first and last quatrains of the handwritten dedication of the period, in verse, which appears on the first endpaper of the volume.
The first line of this dedication, Grand duc second apuy de l'empire de France, obviously refers to the duke of Anjou, younger brother of King Charles IX, who since November 12, 1567, had been the second most important person in the state after the king, Catherine de Médicis having appointed him lieutenant-general of the kingdom, i.e., chief of the royal armies. He became King of France on the death of Charles IX in 1574, under the name of Henri III.
This long dedication can be analysed as a code of political conduct and lessons to be learned from the lives of the great kings of France, in this case from those evoked by Philippe de Commines in his Memoirs. "At home, without running far, recongnoissez l'exemple/Qui vous monstre à vous mesme en ces discours expres!"... "Quant vou seriez cent ans sur la terre demeuré,/Voyez des Roys d'un temps divers deportemens!"... "Voicy le vray miroer des Princes et des Roys,/Du bien et du mal faict un ouvert exemplaire,/Des vices et virtues vous y verrez le choix/Pour garder de vous perdre et vous gardant bien faire". Let us recall that the Duke of Anjou was only 16 years old when he was appointed chief of the royal armies...
A copy of the dedication appears in the album of poems constituted by Marguerite de Valois (1553-1615), sister of François II, Charles IX and Henri III, accompanied by two mentions: one to Monsieur, which undoubtedly designates the dedicatee, and the other to Philippe de Commines, which remained mysterious to the scientific editors of "Marguerite de Valois, Album de poésies, édition de Colette Winn et François Rouget, 2009, n°XLV, p. 140", but which takes on its meaning here, not the name of the author of the poem, not found - and for good reason - by the editors, but that of its origin, now discovered: our volume, for which this dedication, which remained anonymous, was created.
The album of poems of Marguerite de Valois contains about 200 poems copied by several hands in the years 1570-1580. It belonged in the 19th century to Louis Monmerqué, and is now in the library of the Société de l'Histoire du Protestantisme Français.
As to who might have commissioned this sumptuous binding, offered to the young prince with sufficient authority to make him accept advice, logic dictates that it should be placed in the first circle of the Valois, and why not designate Queen Catherine de Médicis herself, his mother.
The binding can be dated to 1570-1580: the combination of foliage, in fairly large numbers, and various leather scrolls, can be found on fanfare bindings from this period. However, historical logic suggests that it should be dated between 1567 and 1574. It can be compared to another epigraphic binding covering a funeral eulogy of Henri II, published in Paris by Vascosan in 1560, preserved at the BnF and reproduced in the catalogue Des livres rares depuis l'invention de l'imprimerie (n°71, notice by Fabienne Le Bars).
The copy is ruled. It belonged at the beginning of the 18th century to a man named Blondeau de La Vallier, censor at the court of La Flèche, whose handwritten ex-libris is repeated three times in the volume.
Binding very restored, the boards and spine remounted; the fleurdelisé border on the boards, the lower and upper parts of the spine remounted; the lining and the endpapers renewed. The dedication leaf and title have been rebacked, with the lower edge restored.
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