Bosse, Moyen universelle de pratiquer la perspective, 1653


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BOSSE, Abraham (1602–1676)

Moyen universel de pratiquer la perspective sur les tableaux, ou surfaces irregulieres. Ensemble quelques particularitez concernant cét art, & celuy de la gaveure en taille-douce.

Paris: chez ledit Bosse, en l’Isle du Palais, sur le Quay qui regarde celuy de  la Megisserie, 1653.

4to: π2 (π1 + 2π2, 3π2, blanks π1, 2π1) A–K4, 46 leaves, pp. [12] 80. π1, blank, is the pastedown, its conjugate leaf the last leaf of the dedication; within this fold are two more bifolia, 2π2, comprising a blank leaf and the engraved titlepage; and 3π2, comprising  the letterpress titlepage and engraved dedication with dedicatee’s arms and first two lines of text, the text continuing in letterpress on the verso. Woodcut and fleuron decorations.

17 leaves of plates with impressions from 31 copperplates numbered 1–31, mostly printed recto and verso, all page-size except no. 27 which is larger and bound as a throwout mounted on the fore edge of K2 with the instruction ‘Il faut Coller cette Planche en dehors, á la page 75’. 

Condition: 165 x 105mm, staining in the upper inner margin, more evident towards the end of the book; righthand margin of engraved titlepage just touched by the binder’s knife. 

Binding: Contemporary calf, gilt spine, marbled endleaves. Joints restored. 

Provenance: 1. Engraved maltese cross with motto ‘Fortidudo’ above the engraved arms flanked by two wolves heads on pastedown, identified in pencil on the endleaf as the arms of the Comte d’Huassonville, grand louvetier du roi (Royal Wolf Catcher). I have not been able to confirm this but Bernard de Cleron, comte d’Haussonville d. 1753 was ‘grand louvetier du roi de Pologne’. It seems unlikely to be François de’Haussonville de Vaubecourt (1659–1736) as a later annotator (a bookseller? has assumed.
2. Nicolas-Jean-Baptiste de Poilly (1712–1780), engraver, signature on verso of free endleaf; early note on free endleaf describing the book and noting that the copy belonged to N.B. de Poilly signed C.F.[?] possibly by the next owner.
3. ‘Ex libr. F. Her. Constant=Figuier …’ apparently a German inscription which I have not been able to fully decipher.
4. A circular stamp has been erased from the printed titlepage. 

First edition. References. Vagnetti EIIIb-48.

One of Bosse’s rarer works, this is a sequel to his Manière universelle des principes de Mr. Desargues, pour pratiquer la  perspective (1648). The earlier work was devoted to perspective drawing on a plane surface. Here Desargues’ system is applied to angled and curved surfaces. ‘[H]is Moyen universelle … paid particular attention to the illusionistic projection of perspective onto ceilings and vaults of various configurations’ (Kemp, Science of Art pp. 123–4).

The last chapter deals with the laying of lines in an engraving to follow the curves of the subject as the projection of lines through a frame with horizontal wires.

Bosse was his own publisher and this is typical of his idiosyncratic approach to typography and the integration of text and images. The first two lines of the text of the dedication are on an engraved plate, followed by the rest of the text in letterpress. An unusually small type-size is used for the text (equivalent to 10pt), and there is a careful placing of plates facing the relevant text, achieved by printing or recto and verso of the plate leaves where necessary and in some of his books, though not here, repeating impressions of the plates. One plate is a throwout with an engraved instruction to paste it to the margin of the page 75 so that the diagrams it contains remain in view as the reader turns to subsequent pages.

The book is in two parts in which Bosse makes a distinction between the first  section in which the text has primacy, ‘Discours d’explication sur les particularitez de ce traité’ and the image led ‘Explication par figures et par discours’ introduced by an attractive engraved sectional title.

This copy has an interesting provenance which I have only partially unravaled and would be glad of any help.