First edition of this super series of 92 fine woodcuts after Holbein’s drawings.
The distinction of two issues of this very first edition has been made possible in 1948 thanks to the study dedicated by Philip Hofer in “Holbein’s Old Testament woodcuts”, pp. 161-174.
“In the first issue of 1538, Judith, Esther and Job appear respectively in the order of leaves I1 verso –I4 recto. In the second issue, Job is in I2 instead of Judith”.
It is the case in our copy with Job’s figure placed instead of the one of Judith in I2. (Harvard p. 341 with reproduction).
Brunet, III, 252, Suppl. 1646; Baudrier 5 p. 175; Rotschild, I, 15; Duplessis p. 49; Green p. 82; Woltmann, Holbein, vol. 2 p. 172; Didot, Essai, colonne 70-73; not in Fairfax-Murray.
Of great beauty, this series has been engraved by Hans Lützelburger that Passavant proclaims “The Prince of all the wood-engravers”. (E. Picot. Catalogue James de Rotschild, n°15).
It contains 4 upright vignettes (63 x 48 mm) from the series “Simulachres et historiées faces de la mort”, published the same year and 88 wide (59 x 85 mm) of an excellent engraving attributed to Hans Lützelburger (Brun, Le livre français illustré de la Renaissance, p. 130).
Brunet (III, column 252) mentions: “These plates have been engraved with great delicacy after the drawings entirely or partly from Hans Holbein’s hand. Copies are extremely rare.”
There is a great similitude between Holbein’s drawings and those published in the Bible published by Pierre Bailly in 1521, which reinforces the hypothesis according which bibles from Lyons were under the same influence.
P. Ganz in « L’influence de l’art français dans l’œuvre de Hans Holbein le jeune » Actes du Congrès d’Histoire de l’art, 2nd volume, part I, 1924, pages 292-299, distinguishes the model of the “Icones” in the Bible by Etienne Gueynard printed in Lyons in 1520 and also mentions Bailly’s Bible.
The various editions of Jean de Tournes and of P. Eskrich in the years 1550-1560, in the same spirit, illustrate the success of the edition of 1538, of which engravings are filled with “all the humanism of the Renaissance”.
Deschamps (Supplément au Manuel des libraires I, 636) mentions impressive auctioning in comparison with the prices of the time “700 Fr Yemeniz ; 700 Fr Morante”. One could find at the time books of bibliophily for 10 gold Fr.
A precious copy of this very rare series bound in a very elegant inlaid binding by Lortic.
Provenance: ex-libris Georges Wendling.