Ultra rare ultra-wide-margined copy of one of the first books accurately depicting insects

Hoefnagel, G.

Archetypa studiaque patris Georgii Hoefnagelii Iacobus F. genio duce ab ipso scalpta, omnibus philomusis amica D: ac perbenique communicat. I. Chr. Weigel excudit. [Complete with all titles and plates].

Published 1592
Item ID 77260

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[Frankfurt am Main, 1592]. Oblong folio (extremely wide-margined copy, 29.5 x 37.0 cm). Titles to the four parts. Pars Prima, Plates 1-12; Pars Secunda Plates 1-12; Pars Tertia Plates 1-12, Pars Quatra Plates 1-12. [Complete]. Period style full burgundy morocco. Spine with five raised, gilt-ornamented bands; compartments rich gilt with floral borders and floral vignettes; red morocco label with gilt title; boards with broad, gilt-rolled borders, gilt corner-pieces; tripple gilt-lined inner borders and floral corner-pieces. Gilt-rolled edges and inner dentelles.

An astonishing super-wide-margined complete set of this very rare work, which comprises four parts with 48 plates and four titles. The plates illustrate fruits, flowers - including tulips, irises, orchids - with many different insects, snails, frogs, mice, crabs, etc. This work is generally renowned for its finely executed entomological illustrations. The Flemish painter and miniaturist Joris (Georgius) Hoefnagel (1542-1601) produced the Archetypa during his Frankfurt Period, which was between 1591 and 1594. His son, Joris, made the engravings. "The Archetypa were engraved as a reproduction of a collection of models and served in turn as a pattern book for other artists" (Vignau-Wilberg). According to Boychuck, the Archetypa was "[p]ossibly a way for the elder Hoefnagel to execute works outside his commitment to the emperor, the collaboration of father and son served to extend Joris' particular artistic form to a wider audience while helping establish his son's artistic career". This work is not known in original colouring and was intended to be uncoloured. Later owners, however, often felt tempted to paint the delicate illustrations, nearly always resulting in fancy, unnatural coloration. Also, because all individual plates are quite attractive, many were framed and, therefore, complete suites, such as this one, have become very rare. Wilhelm Junk remarked that Hagen erred when the latter regarded Hoefnagel's Diversae Insectarum Volatilium Icones (published in 1630) as rarer: "In Wirklichkeit sind heute vollständige Exemplare der 'Archetypa' wenn möglich noch seltener als die 'Diversae Icones". Martayan Lan once had a copy on leaves measuring 24.3 x 28.8 cm (i.e., large, although still much smaller than our copy), but usually the plates are found trimmed to the printed borders (15.0 x 20.5 cm), or with only a small margin. A few old, skilful repairs, otherwise near impeccable. A wonderful copy. Boychuck, J. (2016), Multo in Parvo: Joris Hoefnagel’s illuminations and the gathered practices of central European court culture (thesis); Brunet 3, p. 244; Hagen I, p. 371; Hollstein IX, 17-64; Horn-Schenkling, 10472; Junk, Rara, p. 30; Nissen ZBI, 1954; Vignau-Wilberg (1994), Archetypa Studiaque Patris, Georgii Hoeffnagelii, 1592: Nature, Poetry and Science in Art Around 1600, Staatliche Graphische Sammlung München.

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