Paris: Michel Van Lochom, 1638. First Edition. Folio, 393 x 267 mm. Engraved title-page by Van Lochom, engraved portrait of Boyceau after De Vris, , 87,  pp. With 36 single-page engravings (including one with 2 engravings on the page), 24 double-page engravings, and 1 quadruple-page engraving, numbered in recent pencil 1-18, 20-60, lacking "Plate 19" (see below). Bound in eighteenth-century French full vellum, blue morocco spine label, gilt, preserved in a black cloth slipcase. In excellent condition. Very good. Item #3720
First Edition of the first treatise devoted primarily to the pleasure garden. Boyceau's work, published posthumously by his nephew, determined the character of the French seventeenth- and eighteenth-century formal garden which was brought to its climax by André Le Nôtre almost a generation later. The creative significance of Boyceau's book in relation to the history of European garden design cannot be overestimated, as there is no comparable basic statement of principles either for the Italian or English garden, and therefore it remains one of single most influential works on the art of garden design in Europe.
Jacques Boyceau, Sieur de la Barauderie (ca. 1565-ca. 1635) was appointed Intendent des jardins du roi in 1602 and he continued to hold his appointment under Louis XIII after the assassination of Henri IV (in 1610), at which time he was recognized as an authority on garden planning. From the Traité (Privilege, fol. a3v) we know that Boyceau was involved with the gardens at Fontainebleau, although no extant record of his work there exists. The illustrations in the Traité include parterres executed to his designs for the gardens of the Luxembourg Palace, the "new" château commissioned by Louis XIII at Versailles, the château-neuf at St. Germain-en-Laye, the Louvre, and the Tuileries. "[Boyceau] planned the new parterres for the Tuileries gardens and his beautiful designs greatly excited the admiration of the next generation... [he] is regarded as the precursor of the great development of French gardening" (Gothein, A History of Garden Art).
In general Boyceau's designs are strikingly original; they differ significantly from those of his predecessors (cf. Serlio's Architettura Book IV, Du Cerceau's Plus excellents bastiments, and to a lesser extent Claude Mollet's designs for the Tuileries and St. Germain-en-Laye as depicted in Olivier de Serres' Theatre d'agriculture). Just as Boyceau owed little to his precursors or contemporaries, some of his designs (particularly those of parterres) clearly foreshadow the future, and thus provide an obvious precedent for Le Nôtre and his successors, not only on the Continent but in England as well.
Kenneth Woodbridge writes: "[Boyceau's] designs for parterres de broderie in the Traité du Jardinage are the earliest representations of garden decoration in this style, for which reason he has been credited with its invention... Boyceau's book was the first French text to be devoted to pleasure-gardens and their ornament, stressing the importance of variety, not only in the plan and in relief but in the use of sites where there are differences of level" (Oxford Companion to Gardens).
The collation of this first edition is particularly complex, with various inconsistencies among bibliographers; we have collated our copy with the 1997 Nördlingen facsimile and the microfilm of the Hans Sloan copy (British Library) and determined that: 1). The present copy contains three single-page plates not present in the Nördlingen facsimile (all present in the Sloan copy), namely: a variant of Plate 45 (numbering as per Nördlingen), and the two plates entitled "Petit Parterre du Jardin de la Royne mere a Luxembourg" (in this copy its untitled accompanying plate is misbound after the next double-page plate); and 2). The present copy lacks the single page plate entitled "Parterre Quarre de broderie et plances pour des fleurs" ('Plate 19,' present in both the Nördlingen facsimile and Sloan copies).
The endpapers of the binding are watermarked with a "cornet sur écu polonais couronné," very near to Gaudriault, Filigranes fig. 400 except with two opposing letters "C" below (dated ca. 1719). Early inscription on engraved title-page: "Johannes Molain -- pro Buxeria."
Rare in any condition: we have been able to trace only three copies on the market, the most "recent" being sold at Christie's London in 1977 (the defective John Evelyn copy, to Weinreb), another at Sotheby's NY in 1974 (the William Forsyth copy), and finally the copy that appeared in the 1943 E.P. Goldschmidt Catalogue 71).
De Ganay 17. Guilmard, p. 53. Berlin Katalog 3442.