Les Quatre premiers livres des navigations et peregrinations Orientales. Nicolas de Nicolay, Pierre Ronsard.
Les Quatre premiers livres des navigations et peregrinations Orientales.
Les Quatre premiers livres des navigations et peregrinations Orientales.
Les Quatre premiers livres des navigations et peregrinations Orientales.
Les Quatre premiers livres des navigations et peregrinations Orientales.
Les Quatre premiers livres des navigations et peregrinations Orientales.
Les Quatre premiers livres des navigations et peregrinations Orientales.
Les Quatre premiers livres des navigations et peregrinations Orientales.
A Beautifully Illustrated Book on Ottoman Customs and Costumes

Les Quatre premiers livres des navigations et peregrinations Orientales.

À Lyon: Par Guillaume Roville, 1568. First edition, second issue (the first issue is dated 1567 on the title but otherwise identical to the second). Letterpress title within elaborate woodcut border, designed by Pierre Vase. Woodcut headpieces and initials throughout. Illustrated with 60 engraved plates after Nicolay’s drawings by Léon (or Lyon) Davent (some sources erroneously attribute them to Louis Danet). Plates numbered in ink by a contemporary hand as in many other copies. In 18th century leather. Gilt spine and binding-edges. Tinted edges. [16], 181, [1] p. and 60 engraved plates. Binding rubbed, bumped at corners, somewhat worn. Spine damaged at the head and at the tail joint. Light damp stains and brown spots appear occasionally. Few pages, and plates with traces of old crease probably the result of the process of binding. Plate no. 42 torn at lower edge affecting only the margin, no. 86, 120, 180 torn at lower edge, affecting the image block, no. 142 torn with two holes, one affects the image block. Short texts with reference to illustrations on p. 134 and 163 are deleted as in all other copies. Plate no. 20b with old coloration in light red. Plate no. 114 (Calender Religieux Turc) partly masked with an inkblot as in most copies due to its obscenity. Some plates are variants (compared to the copies held at the BnF [FRBNF41613401], and two copies at the Austrian National Library [48.D.10; BE.8.J.20]): plate no. 52a is similar to the BnF and BE.8.J.20 copies, 68b slightly differs from all other consulted copies (probably a later state of the engraving), no. 118 and 154 are similar to the BnF and BE.8.J.20 copies (difference of the plate-mark at upper edge). Despite the defects of the binding a firm copy, overall in very good condition.

The first book to show Middle Eastern clothing in detail, and one of the most beautiful books ever published about the Ottoman Empire.

The book was written and illustrated by Nicolas de Nicolay (1517–1583), Henry II of France’s royal geographer, who was sent on a mission to Constantinople in 1551 in the retinue of the French ambassador to the Ottoman court. While there, Nicolay wrote this account and sketched the remarkable Oriental people in costume, among them Greek, Arab, Turkish, Armenian, Maltese, Moor, Macedonians, and Jewish men and women. The illustrations of the book are based on the author’s original artwork, and the depicted costumes are considered to be the exact reproductions of oriental costumes of the time, they constitute one of the first series of serious documents on the clothing of the inhabitants of the region. The plates are also described as the finest and most influential pictorial introduction of Oriental characters and costumes. They had a lasting historical impact on the European popular imagination and aesthetic conceptions of Islam, moreover they became the basis for illustrated ethnographies of the Islamic world for the next two centuries. 

The introduction of the book includes the first printing of the 3-page Elegie by Pierre Ronsard, dedicated to Nicolay, and not recorded by Seymour de Ricci in his catalog of Ronsard's writings. This part is followed by the four books of Nicolay’s account of the journey, chronicling the ambassadorial voyage to Istanbul, and the description of the Ottoman court life, the customs and costumes of various ethnic groups that populated the Islamic capital, the descriptions of religious figures and the ‘exotic’ practices of their beliefs. The first book describes the voyage to Algiers, Malta and Tripoli, the second the voyage through the Aegean islands to Constantinople, the third and fourth the people of Constantinople and Adrianople, and depicts the likes of Turkish chefs and Greek musicians, Jewish doctors and merchants, wrestlers, drunkards and drug-users, mad dervishes who cut themselves in an out-of-body state of hallucination, torlaqs who read palms, and other ‘fringe’ religious ascetics, including one whose body-piercing ensures his sexual abstinence. The book includes accurate descriptions – some of the earliest to appear in Europe – of Islamic religion and ritual, monuments, mosques and education, and Nicolay’s attendance at a dinner with the sultan provides one of the first European accounts of the Turkish gastronomic delicacy, the sorbet. 

Despite obtaining the royal privilege in 1555 the book did not appear until 1567. In 1555 Nicolay contracted with the engraver Léon Davent to produce copper-plates based on his original drawings. The book was eventually published 12 years later and achieved widespread success. The first edition of 1567 instigated an immediate re-issue the next year and soon followed by a second edition in Antwerp in 1576, which was simultaneously issued in Dutch, German and Italian, with woodcut illustrations based on the original engravings.

Baudrier IX, p.318; Brunet IV:67; Cicognara 1730; Colas 2200 (1567 edition); Harvard/Mortimer French 386.

Bibl.: Brafman, D.: Nicolas de Nicolay. In: Christian-Muslim Relations A Bibliographical History. Volume 6. Western Europe (1500–1600). Brill: Leiden, Boston, 2014. pp. 752–763.

.

Price: €55,000.00