In clarissimum virum Nicolaum Claudium Fabricium de Peiresc ... Epicedion.

Marseille, Claude Garcin, 1642.

4to, pp. [24], 24, [2], with woodcut royal arms of France to title-page; inner margin of title lightly soiled, two very faint waterstains throughout, final leaf mounted on a stub obscuring a few letters of the first word of each line; overall a very good copy in early nineteenth-century wrappers.


US $4220€3864

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Uncommon first edition of Balthasar de Vias’s elegant neo-Latin elegy commemorating the life of his friend the scholar, antiquary, and collector Nicolas Claude Fabri de Peiresc (1580–1637) of Aix-en-Provence, the most learned man of his time; our copy contains the extremely rare ‘Encomiasticon’ bound in on a separate printed sheet.

Balthasar de Vias (1587–1667) was a noted neo-Latin poet. He published his first collection of verse, dedicated to Henry IV, at the age of nineteen; impressed by his poetic prowess, Urban VIII attempted in vain to lure him to Rome. He inherited the (non-resident) position of Consul of Angiers from his father in 1627.

The present work demonstrates both Vias’s lyricism and epic talent as well as his obvious deep-seated respect for his subject and friend. Peiresc knew him from 1614: Vias’s wife was the sister of Peirec’s very young stepmother, and his brother-in-law, Pierre Fort, managed Peiresc’s finances. They shared an interest in numismatics and antiquities, and exchanged coins and medals (many of them Islamic) as well as books. Vias helped Peiresc to identify Arabic coinage and provided him with an overview of Turkish coinage in collaboration with his merchant contacts in Turkey; his own impressive cabinet was sold after his death. Known correspondence between the two collectors dates only from 1626 onwards, and a total of forty-one letters from Peiresc to Vias have survived. By contrast, Peiresc’s biographer Gassendi had received fifty-one letters.

Our copy contains the additional leaf containing the twelve-line ‘Encomiasticon’ not present in three of the five known copies (see below). The leaf is a singleton pasted on a stub, suggesting that it was most likely a late addition and thus may never have been added to most copies.

Very rare. We could locate only two copies containing the ‘Encomiasticon’, both at the Houghton Library, Harvard; We have found three additional copies, all bound without the additional leaf (two at the BnF and one at the Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek in Germany).

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