The Joseph von Lassberg copy
FAERNO, Gabriele & PERRAULT, Charles
Cent fables choisies des anciens auteurs, mises en Vers Latins par Gabriel Faerne, et traduites par Mr. Perrault, de l’Académie Françoise. Avec de nouvelles Figures en Taille-douce [titre en latin et en français sur deux feuillets]
London, Guill. Darres & Claude Du Bosc, 1743
4to (255 x 198 mm) 13 un.l. including the engraved frontispiece, 238 pp., 2 un.l.. Contemporary stiff vellum, manuscript title on spine, red speckled edges.
Praz, p. 332 : “Not an emblem-book proper, but a work to be classified in the cognate genre of apologues. Included however, in this edition as well as in later ones, in some catalogues of emblems” ; Cohen-De Ricci, 371.

Beautifully illustrated book on Fables close in style to Books on Emblem.

The neo-Latin poet Gabriele Faerno (Cremona, ca. 1510-1561), whose patron was Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Medici di Marignano – pope between 1559 and 1565 under the name of Pius IV – composed these fables, renowned for their elegance, the discovery of those written by Phaedra. The first edition appeared after Faerno’s death in 1564. A century later, Charles Perrault produced a French translation, published in 1699.

This very carefully produced edition presents the original text followed by Perrault’s version. It is illustrated with 101 copper-engraved figures, including a frontispiece signed by Claude Du Bosc showing Aesop surrounded by a great variety of animals, and 100 unsigned head vignettes (9 x 11 cm).

As Mario Praz points out, this suite is comparable to the emblematic genre, with its enigmatic character and austere elegance, softened by the graceful cut of an anonymous 18th-century artist. Charming scenes depicting nature and animal life are interspersed with some mythological compositions, or natural disasters, quickly overshadowed by peaceful genre paintings. Other cuts are devoted to hunting.

The introductory pieces include other neo-Latin poems by Faerno, as well as prefaces and epistles dedicated to the Cremonese fabulist.

A very fine copy, neatly bound; shelf-mark with manuscript at foot of spine.

The first endpaper bears the handwritten bookplate of Baron Joseph Maria Christoph von Lassberg (1770-1855), a German antiquarian, literary historian and collector who owned, in his castle of Meersburg on Lake Constance, a library of 12,000 rare books and 273 precious manuscripts, among them the famous codex of the Nibelungenlied known as the Hohenems manuscript or C manuscript. After Baron von Lassberg’s death, his library was donated to his home town Donaueschingen.

A very fine copy.