Courses de Testes et de Bague Faittes Par Le Roy, et par Les Princes et Seigneurs de sa Cour, En l’Année 1662. Charles Perrault, Esprit Fléchier, Israel Silvestre, François Chauveau, Gilles Rousselet, Louis XIV.
Courses de Testes et de Bague Faittes Par Le Roy, et par Les Princes et Seigneurs de sa Cour, En l’Année 1662.
Courses de Testes et de Bague Faittes Par Le Roy, et par Les Princes et Seigneurs de sa Cour, En l’Année 1662.
Courses de Testes et de Bague Faittes Par Le Roy, et par Les Princes et Seigneurs de sa Cour, En l’Année 1662.
Courses de Testes et de Bague Faittes Par Le Roy, et par Les Princes et Seigneurs de sa Cour, En l’Année 1662.
The Commemoration of the 1662 Carrousel of the Sun King

Courses de Testes et de Bague Faittes Par Le Roy, et par Les Princes et Seigneurs de sa Cour, En l’Année 1662.

A Paris: De l’Imprimerie Royale, 1670. Folio (562 x 420 mm), In contemporary Cambridge style calf, with a large gilt panel stamp of the arms of Louis XIV in the center panel, fleur-de-lis’ on the corners of the middle-frame. Spine with raised bands, compartments gilt with fleur-de-lis’ and floral ornaments, with a red maroquin title vignette lettered in gilt. Marbled endpapers. Text in French. Illustrated throughout with an engraved pictorial title page, 3 double-page engraved plates, 8 engraved processional scenes on 4 double-page sheets, 55 engraved emblems on 10 sheets, and 30 large engraved illustrations (one double-page), 12 title labels, cul-de-lampes, and 7 initials (some repeated) by Silvestre and Chauveau. pp. ff [4], pp. 8, [4] doubles plates, ff. 17–24, [1] doubles plate, f. [1] , ff. 28–61, f. [1], [1] doubles plate, pp. 63–64, [1] doubles plate, pp. 65–66, [1] doubles plate. Contemporary, indecipherable signs on the title page in ink, possible ownership inscription. Binding rubbed, damaged at the lower corner and the side edges. Paper tanned. Water stains to the outer margins of the pages, brown stains, and small inkblots occasionally. Some pages with traces of crease. A wormhole to the margin at the lower outer corner. Overall in very good condition.

First edition of this magnificent festival book celebrating and recording Louis XIV’s Carrousel of 1662.

Aware of the importance of public festivals, Louis XIV had the Carrousel of 1662 with the official reason to celebrate the birth of the Dauphin and the objective to symbolically establish the sovereign’s authority over the nobility and the Parisian population at the end of the Fronde. The feast, held in the center of Paris, made up of five quadrilles, representing the world as understood by the French court: “the dignity and power of the Roman empire, the otherworldly mystery of America, the threatening, barbaric concept of the Turkish empire, the sagacity and age of the Persians, and the decadence of the Indians”. (Nelson, p. 48). The particular national identities were represented by the dresses and “the majority of the quadrilles wore costumes that were decadent but based on European court costumes, the Americans wore fanciful gear made of fish scales, rode “unicorns,” and had helmets made of dragon’s heads”. (Nelson, p. 48)

Courses de Testes et de Bague was designed to preserve and spread the memories of the tournament. It is illustrated with an engraved pictorial title with the bust of the Sun King, Louis XIV; four double plates with eight large engravings representing the parade and a title band; three large plates with double page of assembled participants and spectators; a double-page illustration of the King in costume as Roman emperor on horseback; twenty-nine costume engravings; fifty-five engraved emblematic devices printed on ten pages; seven title labels; five cul-de-lampes; and seven large engraved initials by Gilles Rousselet, François Chauveau, and Israel Silvestre. The book compounds of four sections composed of ten chapters: “The first section is related to the book itself, containing the dedication to the dauphin by Perrault and the introduction of the book, a defense of the topic and explanation of the Carrousel as a whole; the second section is concerned with the structural and presentational nature of the Carrousel, the description of the order of the march with Silvestre’s matching engravings, followed by five chapters devoted to each of the five quadrilles (detailing the various costumes and devices of each of the participants); the third section is a description of the events themselves, an overview of June 5th (the Courses de Testes) and June 6th (the Course de Bague), along with descriptions of the prizes won on each day; the fourth and last section is solely comprised of Fléchier’s poem, Circus Regius, sive Pompa Equestris Ludouici XIV” (Nelson).

This luxuriously illustrated fête book was eventually published in 1670 as the first volume of the famous collection of prints known as the Cabinet du Roi (later reorganized as volume X), seven hundred copies were printed, four hundred in French and three hundred in Latin (Centre et al, p. 151), the latter for European courts to reveal the image of a prosperous and stable state, and to emphasize the splendor and power of Louis XIV’s court. “The distribution of the book to both the domestic and foreign nobility is quite well established. The participants received their own editions, and editions were sent abroad. The book resides in libraries in Venice, Vienna, Dresden, and Munich. Copies were rumored to have traveled to China with Jesuit missionaries.” (Nelson, p. 53)

Brunet, II, 337; Ruggieri 505; Praz 449; Vinet 504. Literature: Cetre, N., et al.: Le Carrousel de 1662: de l'événement au livre. In: Revue de l'histoire de Versailles et des Yvelines. Vol. 86. Versailles: Académie de Versailles, 2002.; Nelson, N. M.: Courses de Testes et Bague and the Cultural Legitimization of Louix XIV's Personal Rule, 1661–1671. Thesis. (B. A.) Haverford College, Dept. of History, 2008. Retrieved March 8, 2021, from https://scholarship.tricolib.brynmawr.edu/bitstream/handle/10066/1414/2008NelsonN.pdf.

Price: €12,000.00