HEAVEN AND HELL GLIMPSED BY RUBENS’ ENGRAVER

Via vitae aeternae iconibus illustrata per Boetium a Bolswert.

Antwerp, Martin Nutius, 1620.

8vo, pp. [xvi], 875, [21]; with an emblematic engraved frontispiece and 32 engraved emblematic plates by Boetius a Bolswert; a very good copy in contemporary vellum, soiled, ties perished; nineteenth-century ownership inscription in the lower margin of the title (Joseph Haskell, 1844) and Haskell’s dedication inscription to his ‘beloved wife Anna Carolina’ dated 1857 in the rear free end-paper.

£1500

Approximately:
US $1960€1683

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First edition, a very clean, attractive copy, of an emblem book which unites the spiritual meditations and practices of the Belgian Jesuit Antoine Sucquet with fine emblematic illustrations devised by the great baroque engraver Boetius a Bolswert (c. 1580-1633), called by Praz ‘the illustrator of the sentimental and ecstatic states of the soul’. Boetius a Bolswert’s exquisite refinement gives here, again in Praz’ words, views of Hell and glimpses of Heaven. Man’s worse drives are iconized in satyrs, ghouls, harpies, werewolves, semi-human lizards, his progress towards eternal life ever hindered by the multifarious and rapacious beast within. With his brother Schilte, Boetius was among the most sensitive and felicitous engravers to render Rubens’ drawings. Sucquet’s emblem book was extremely successful, with 177 editions in Latin within a decade, and many vernacular translations.

Brunet V, 577; De Backer-Sommervogel, VII, col 1690, no. 1; Praz, p. 506.

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