‘AESTETHIC OF FEAR’

Peribologia seu muniendorum locor[um] ratio.

Frankfurt, Anton Humm for the author, 1641.

Thick folio (31 x 20,5 cm), complete, with erratic pagination: pp. 2, 5-62, ff. 63-69, pp. [70]-202, [10], [2] (blank), with engraved title-page (a printed title-page may have been issued but no copy is known with it, see Vd17), 8 fantastic engraved section titles and 410 engravings (numbered I-CCC, I-CX) on 236 plates (nearly 200 are double-page; and one very large and folding plan of Strasbourg); a very good and crisp copy in contemporary English panelled calf, gilt, upper joint cracked at top, bit rubbed, red edges. The Macclesfield copy (not in the Sotheby’s sales).

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First Latin edition of this monumental work on architecture and fortifications, a book produced by father and son. The imprint makes clear that the son, Johann Wilhelm, not only was responsible for the magnificent plates but also edited and published the work ‘edita sumptus et typos suppeditante Joanne Wilhelmo Dilichio F[ilio] architecto (‘published at the cost of his son J.W. Dilich, architect, who supplied the type’). The original German edition was published the previous year, 1640.

‘The best-known German writer on fortification of his time, Dilich had studied at Cassel and at the University of Marburg. He spent long periods of time in Holland and then became the historian, geographer and architect of Maurice, Elector of Saxony (joint dedicatee of the Latin edition of 1641); poems praising his treatise address him also as a mathematician. This treatise is distinguished by the ferocity of the illustrations which attempt to create an aesthetic of fear, elaborated in the external form of the fortification, especially the casemates, the gun embrasures of the parapet and the gates. His outlines for fortified city plans are somewhat influenced by Francesco de’ Marchi’s, but have even more extensive outworks; Dilich clearly supported a fortification system based on the “tenaille”, a predilection partially announced by his title (Peribologia = study of the circumference [of a sanctuary]). Nonetheless, many of his fortified city plans contain elaborate proposals for urban compositions of streets, First Latin edition of this monumental work on architecture and fortifications, a book produced by father and son. ‘This treatise is distinguished by the ferocity of the illustrations which attempt to create an aesthetic of fear, elaborated in the external form of the fortification, especially the casemates, the gun embrasures of the parapet and the gates’ (Dilich). The imprint makes clear that the son, Johann Wilhelm, was not only responsible for the magnificent plates but also edited and published the work ‘edita sumptus et typos suppeditante Joanne Wilhelmo Dilichio F[ilio] architecto (‘published at the cost of his son J.W. Dilich, architect, who supplied the type’). The original German edition was published the previous year, 1640.

‘The best-known German writer on fortification of his time, Dilich had studied at Cassel and at the University of Marburg. He spent long periods of time in Holland and then became the historian, geographer and architect of Maurice, Elector of Saxony (joint dedicatee of the Latin edition of 1641); poems praising his treatise address him also as a mathematician… His outlines for fortified city plans are somewhat influenced by Francesco de’ Marchi’s, but have even more extensive outworks; Dilich clearly supported a fortification system based on the “tenaille”, a predilection partially announced by his title (Peribologia = study of the circumference [of a sanctuary]). Nonetheless, many of his fortified city plans contain elaborate proposals for urban compositions of streets, squares and building lots’ (Pollak, no. 14).

Dilich’s fortifications for Frankfurt were very successful as Frankfurt withstood assaults until 1806 when Napoleon managed to take the city. His many drawings so ably translated into print by his son were also used by Merian as inspirations.

Berlin Kat. 3526 (German ed.); Cockle, Military Books, no. 832 (only German edition); M. D. Pollak, Military Architecture … and the Representation of the Early Modern City, (Newberry Library 1991), no. 14; Sloos, Warfare and the Age of Printing, (2008), no. 08026.

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