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Jean Baptiste Boudard. Iconologie Tirée de divers Auteurs. Ouvrage Utile aux Gens
de Lettres, aux Poëtes, aux Artistes, & généralement à tous les Amateurs des
Beaux-Arts.
Vienna: Jean-Thomas de Trattnern, Imprimeur et Libraire de la Cour, 1766.
Three octavo volumes, full contemporary mottled calf gilt, engraved devices to title pages,
630 half-page engravings, each page set within a ruled border. $3000.
First octavo edition of this Enlightenment-era emblem book, first published
as a folio in 1759 in Parma, where sculptor Jean-Baptiste Boudard worked at
the peak of his career. Boudard’s
Iconologie
features one symbolic engraving per
page, alphabetically arranged from
Abondance
to
Zele
, each accompanied by an
explanatory caption. The range, detail, and animation of Boudard’s engravings
are remarkable. He depicts ideas and emotions, monsters and muses, concepts of
time and qualities of character, with a marked emphasis on the arts and sciences:
Imprimerie
is a woman setting
SEMPERUBIQUE
in type, while
Theorie
wears her
great open compass like a halo.
Domination
, head wreathed by a serpent with a
lion at his feet, faces
Douceur
, who cradles a lamb and a dove in the shadow of a
watchful elephant. Taken together, the emblems are greater than the sum of their
carefully explicated parts, proceeding with a dream logic of their own. Text in
French. A near-fine copy of a striking allegorical encyclopedia.
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Plato; Henry Spens (translator). The Republic of Plato. In Ten Books. Translated
from the Greek by H. Spens. With a Preliminary Discourse Concerning the
Philosophy of the Ancients by the Translator.
Glasgow: Robert & Andrew Foulis,
1763. Quarto, contemporary calf gilt. Bookplate of Dunnichen Library, presentation
copy from translator Henry Spens to George Dempster. $18,000.
First edition in English of Plato’s Republic, translated by Scottish classicist
Henry Spens “to stir up the youth to the study of the Ancients,” and published by
the Foulis brothers at the University of Glasgow. In the most influential of Plato’s
dialogues, Socrates leads a debate on the character of the just city and the just man.
The allegory of the cave in Book VII, which dramatizes the possibilities and limits
of enlightenment, remains a touchstone for educators: “when at any time he
sees one in confusion, and unable to perceive any thing, he will not laugh in an
unreasonable manner, but will consider, whether the soul, coming from a more
enlightened life, be darkened by ignorance, or going from prevailing ignorance, to a
life more enlightened, be filled with the dazzling splendor, and so will congratulate
the one on its fate and life, and compassionate the life and fate of the other.”
Spens’s translation, once eclipsed by Thomas Taylor’s collected edition of 1804,
was revived in the twentieth century in the Everyman’s Library series of pocket
classics. The recipient of this copy, George Dempster of Dunnichen, was a
member of Parliament who moved in the same Scottish Enlightenment circles
as David Hume, Adam Ferguson,William Robertson, and James Boswell. A
handsome presentation copy of a landmark inWestern philosophy.
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