CUREAU DE LA CHAMBRE, Marin
Paris Pierre Rocolet 1657
One small volume, 4to (25x18,5cm), contemporary binding, red morocco, boards richly decorated with a large gilt decoration called "Cureau" composed of a double frame with a large filigree lace border, fleur-de-lis in the corners, angular compartments decorated with small fleur-de-lys, central diamond-shaped composition made of small filigree irons, gilt flames, central coat of arms painted in green, spine with 5 nerves decorated with filigree irons with the title nicely stamped in a gilt quatrefoil, gilt edges. (Small restoration at the head of the upper spine, lining and endpapers renewed)
Frontispiece, [xviii] pp. including title, 414 pp. and [xii] pp. table and privilege. 12 illustrations within the text including 2 copper engravings (dedication and a diagram) and 10 diagrams.
Superb binding by the "Rocolet" workshop, decorated with the rich "Cureau decoration" and made for the author Marin Cureau de La Chambre, on a presentation copy to Chancellor Séguier.
First edition of this scientific work dedicated to light and dedicated to Cardinal Mazarin. In his foreword, the author defines "four kinds of light in Nature; namely, that which is in the luminous Body, that which it spreads outside itself, the Colours and the visible Species" and proposes to study here only the first two. He thus divides his work into two chapters: De la lumière radicale and De la lumière extérieure, and "reserves the other two for a second volume". This second volume did not appear as such, but Cureau de La Chambre addressed these subjects in other works, in particular in Nouvelles observations et conjectures sur l'iris (1650).
Martin Cureau de La Chambre (1594-1669) was Chancellor Séguier's personal physician from 1634 onwards and remained so until his death, living for 35 years in his patron's house. His qualities as a physician as well as a philosopher opened the doors of the salons and the court, and allowed him to become the King's ordinary physician in 1650, before being one of the first members of the very young Academy of Sciences in 1666. A prolific author and sound court official, Cureau de La Chambre had numerous presentation copies of his books lavishly bound, in particular by the "Rocolet" workshop, named after the bookseller and printer Pierre Rocolet, until the latter's death in 1662.
This binding, unknown until now and absent from the Cureau-Rocolet census drawn up by Isabelle de Conihout, is to be compared with the one presented under n° 23 of the catalogue Reliures françaises du XVIIe siècle, Chefs-d'œuvre du musée Condé, and made for a copy of the third volume of Characteres des passions by the same Cureau de La Chambre (1659), also offered to Séguier; "This decoration, created for Cureau in 1653 and named for this reason 'Cureau decoration', reached its fullness around 1657 with the magnificent copies of the book published that year, La Lumière.
Provenance: Chancellor Pierre Séguier (1588-1672). Keeper of the Seals and then Chancellor of France from 1635 onwards, Pierre Séguier held this position almost continuously until his death, for almost 40 years. His library, rich in several thousand books, passed to his great-grandson Henri-Charles de Coislin, who bequeathed it to the Abbey of Saint-Germain; the revolutionary turmoil dispersed a large part of it. - Old inscription "Séminaire" in ink on the frontispiece.
Brunet, 727; OHR, 271, iron 10; Conihout and Ract-Madoux, Reliures françaises du XVIIe siècle, cf. n° 23; Conihout, "Les Reliures de Marin Cureau de La Chambre et l'atelier 'Rocolet'", in Le Livre et l'historien, Etudes offertes en l'honneur du Professeur Henri-Jean Martin, 1997.
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