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The royal art of fencing
Académie de l'Espée ou se demonstrent par Reigles Mathematiques sur le fondement d'un Cercle mysterieux la Theorie et la Pratique des vrais et iusqu'a present incognus secrets du maniement des Armes A Pied et A Cheval. [Leyde], [Elzevier], 1628, 2 parts in 1 vol. large folio (40 x 52,5 cm), contemporary ivory, blue edges, frontispiece and 2 last unnumbered, leaves restored. Engraved title-frontispiece by Bolsvert, portrait of Thibault d'Anvers by Bailly (signed DB), 9 engraved plates of coats-of-arms and 46 engraved plates (45 double-page and 1 single-page) with numerous scenes of fencing by Crispin de Pas, Lastman, Gelle, Bolswert, Stockius, P. de Jode, etc., all hand colored and heightened with gold and silver by the dutch painter David Bailly. The coloring of the present copy in rich strong colors heightened with gold and silver was executed by the Dutch painter David Bailly. Copies in contemporary color are extremely rare and it is even more outstanding to know colorist's identity, in this case an important painter whose works hang in the world's major museums. David Bailly (1584-1657), pupil of his father, Pieter Bailly from Antwerp and the copper engraver Jacques de Gheyn, he studied portraiture with Cornelis van der Voort in Amsterdam. Thibault d'Anvers (circa 1574-1627) is the last adept of a fashionable Spanish School of fencing. His book Académie de l'Éspée, is one of the great books on fencing according to the Spanish School. The text is even more mysterious and complicated than in the Spanish School manuals, which were not illustrated. Thibault's theory is based on a mysterious circle, which according to him, is at the base of the science of arms. But the real importance of his book lies in its pictorial method of teaching, offering hundreds of different fighting positions on large and beautifully engraved plates, most of which show several fencing pairs. Each series of plates, designed and richly engraved by the best artists of the time, opens with a large plate representing various anatomical figures. Exceptional copy previously owned by Louis II de Bourbon Prince of Condé (1621-1686), the future Grand Condé, when he was a child. The first free endpaper of the book bears the following dedication ["To the most high and powerful Seigneur Henry de Bourbon Condé dedicated and painted for the instruction of his illustrious son Louis de Bourbon Condé, by D. Bailly, Painter to the King, Antwerp the 17th March 1629"] "Au très haut et très puissant Seigneur Henry de Bourbon Condé dédié et peint pour l'instruction de son illustre fils Louis de Bourbon Condé par son très humble et très obeïssant serviteur D Bailly Peintre du Roi Anvers ce 17 mars 1629". The only copy to date bearing a dedication from a painter-colorist according to Dr. Susan Ackerman, Curator of Prints at Harvard's Fogg Museum and a leading authority on the application of color in 16th and 17th century prints, knows of no other contemporary painter "signing" his work as a colorist (see Dr. Ackerman's exhibition catalogue Painted Prints, The Revelation of Color. 2002) This splendid work would have indeed struck the imagination of a young boy, later to become the venerated military commander known as the Grand Condé, who inaugurated an extended period of French military dominance when he defeated a powerful Spanish force in the decisive Battle of Rocroi (1643). The binding, initially bearing armorials and decorated with studs, has visibly suffered the ravages of the French Revolution. Brunet V 817. Gelli 448-450. Lipperheide 2960. Thimm 287. Vigeant 125-127: ["The engravings in this bibliographical monument are remarkable, not only of the ornaments and the details but also of the postures and costumes. The text itself, from the point of view of printing, is a curiosity"]. Willems 302: ["Sumptuous publication, printed in grand and fine characters on strong paper, and still sought after because of its magnificent plates"].
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Exhibitor: Amsterdam Bookfair