Masterpiece of French Renaissance book illustration and typography
Geoffroy Tory
Champfleury. Au quel est contenu Lart & Science de la deue & vraye Proportion des Lettres Attiques, quon dit autrement lettres antiques, & vulgairement lettres romaines proportionnees selon le corps et visage humain
Paris, Geoffroy Tory & Gilles de Gourmont, 28 April 1529.
Folio (242 x 171 mm) 8 nn.ll., LXXX num.ll., 17th century mottled calf, spine gilt with raised bands.
60 000 
Quentin, Fleurons de la Bodmeriana, Chroniques d’une histoire du livre, 2005, n° 23; En français dans le texte, Paris, 1990, nº 41; Mortimer, French 16th Century Books, nº 524 (“The most famous single work in the early history of French typography”); Cicognara, number 362; Brun, Le Livre illustré français de la Renaissance, pp. 44 & 46-47; Updike, Printing Types I, 188-189; Berlin Kat, 5084.

First edition.

The most famous single work in the early history of French typography.

Geofroy Tory (…) was at once poet, translator and critic, artist and workman, dreamer and reformer. He had been a traveller in Italy and was deeply moved by the Renaissance spirit. He wrote, printed, and published books; he designed type in which to print them, and ornaments with which to adorn them. (…) He was a prime mover in introducing roman types and made innovation in the arrangement of title-pages. In short, he was a kind of divine jack-of-all-trades. ” (Updike).

The most famous single work in the early history of French typography. The three books of the text are concerned with the French language, the origin of Roman letters, and the construction of the letters. This volume is, in addition, the major work upon which Tory’s reputation as renaissance scholar, printer, and artists is based… The imprint of this first issue names both Tory and Gilles de Gourmont as publishers. Bernard attributes this printing to Gourmont, but Johnson belies that this is the first book printed by Tory himself” (Mortimer).

The result of this work was an immediate and complete revolution in French typography and orthography – the abandonment of the Gothic and the adoption of a new cut of antique face” (Bigmore & Wyman).

The present copy belongs to the first issue as it mentions the names of both printers, Geoffroy Tory and de Gourmont.

The magisterial book illustration includes 13 full-page compositions of alphabets in various styles, as well as interlaced characters or typographical fantasies for the use of craftsmen.

Copy ruled in red, leaves LXXII and LXXX and binding with old restorations.