Stock, Art & Architecture
Vitae et icones sultanorum Turcicorum, principum Persarum aliorumque illustrium heroum heroinarumque ab Osmane usque ad Mahometem II.
HOEFNAGEL’S MASTERFUL PORTRAITS OF SULTANS AND SULTANAS, SOME FINISHED IN (CONTEMPORARY?) COLOR. 4to. 5 ff., 356 (i.e. 353) pp, (5) pp. Engraved title page and 47 full-page portrait engravings in text; numerous woodcut vignettes and initials. 19th century vellum, bound to contemporary style, with manuscript title on spine. Several mispaginations. An extremely fresh copy, with engravings in crisp impression; 18 portraits finished in skilled handcoloring. One or two cases of coloring adhering to facing page, generally imperceptible. Rare first edition of this unusual work focusing on the portraiture of non-European subjects, in this case the Sultans and Sultanas of Turkey, the Princes of Persia, and “other illustrious heroes and heroines” right up to Murad III (d. 1595). The splendid engravings, according to the title-page, were made ‘from life’ – i.e. from commemorative medals – but have here been imaginatively embellished by the Flemish painter Georg (Joris) Hoefnagel (1542-1601), according to Blackmer, before being engraved by De Bry. While the portraits are striking in themselves (particularly those which show handcolor in the present copy, and those of women!), the delicately-engraved borders also catch the eye, teeming with life: insects, flowers, elephants, camels, monkeys, anthropomorphic figures, and so on. The work opens with a portrait in profile of the author, the well-travelled antiquary Boissard, engraved as a tribute by De Bry. Among the chronological array of Ottoman and Persian rulers, it is interesting to note the attention paid to many of their wives and concubines: Donika Scanderberg, Salomache Gobei, Manto, Rossa Solymanni, Tamira Assambegi, Cleone Abusaidae, Corasi Tammae, and Medabe Olyndi. While the majority of the subjects have been characterized with very European features and pale skin, a few have distinctly dark skin, for example ‘Cleone, wife of Abusaid’ on p. 288 and ‘Medabe, wife of Olyndus’ on p. 318. OCLC shows 5 US copies: Getty, Folger, Illinois, U Penn, Huntington; none are noted as colored. The Vershbow copy (uncolored) made $16,250 at Christie’s in 2013. Although often found together with Lonicer’s Pannoniae (a history of the kings of Hungary), the Icones is listed as a separate work in most bibliographies (see below). * Note: the engraving on p. 40 was evidently mis-printed as a portrait of Ibrahim Bassa (found in fact on p. 210), and the correct portrait has been pasted over – perhaps at the time of printing, as it also shows signs of handcoloring. * VD16 B 6462; Blackmer 159; Apponyi 1923 ("The principal interest in this book must lie in the masterful portraits and unique borders showing flowers, insects, birds and other animals"); Brunet I, 1609 ("Ce volume rare et assez recherché"); Hollstein IV, 50, 207-254; Graesse I, 475; Lipperheide I, 1401 (Lb 10).