Oblong 8vo (143 x 213 mm), ff. , comprising engraved title and 35 engraved plates (numbered 2-36), plate 2 signed ‘S. le Clerc f.’; plate 16 bound before plate 12, plates 28 and 29 reversed, two small marginal tears to title, a few small marginal chips to final leaves, occasional light foxing; overall a very good, wide-margined copy in eighteenth-century red morocco, boards panelled in gilt, spine gilt in compartments, gilt board edges and turn-ins, gilt edges, combed marbled endpapers; small losses at head and foot of spine, some wear to joints, edges and corners, small abrasions to lower cover; armorial bookplate of ‘John Somers Lord Somers’ to upper pastedown (Franks 6257).
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Figures de la passion D. N. S. Iesus Christ presentées à Madame Madame de Maintenon, par son très humble et très obeisst. serviteur Seb. le Clerc.
Scarce later issue of this wonderful suite of engravings depicting the Passion of Christ by the noted engraver Sébastien Le Clerc (1637–1714), running from Christ’s arrival in the Garden of Olives to the Holy Spirit descending upon the Apostles.
Dedicated to Madame de Maintenon, wife of Louis XIV, the title-page bears her arms flanked by the female allegorical figures of Religion and Charity. The series that follows includes especially striking representations of the Agony in the Garden (4), Christ before Pilate (10), the Flagellation (14), Christ falling beneath the weight of the cross (19), His being nailed to the cross (21), His death upon the cross (27), His descent into Hell (28), the Entombment (31), and the Resurrection (32).
Le Clerc taught perspective at the Académie des Beaux-Arts and served as engraver to the king. ‘Few artists have produced as much work as Le Clerc and … [he] treated every genre with an indisputable mastery’ (Benezit). This series was first published by Audran in 1692, each image being without a border. Our later issue has ornamental borders in the style of picture frames, being all the same with the exception of plate 22.
Provenance: John Somers-Cocks, Viscount Eastnor and second Earl Somers (1788–1852), soldier and politician who served as MP for Reigate and for Hereford.
Brunet III, 915; Jombert, Catalogue raisonné de l’oeuvre de Sebastien le Clerc 232.
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