Paris: Imprimerie Royale, 1676. First edition. Hardcover. Quarto (10 3/4 x 8 1/2"). , 463, pp. 19th-century half calf over marbled paper covered boards, with gold lettering and tooling to spine. Raised bands. Marbled endpapers. Engraved royal arms on title. Allegorical frontispiece after Charles Le Brun, engraved by Sébastien Le Clerc. Book housed in a custom made linen cover slipcase.
Issac de Benserade was an important poet in the court of Louis XIV and was the librettist for the composer Lully. His translation of Métamorphoses d'Ovide in the form of a rondeaux was considered a failure and negatively affected his reputation.
"Benserade wrote rondeaux upon Ovid some of which are reckoned tolerable but upon the whole the attempt was too absurd for serious approbation and his Ovid without occasioning any controversy dropt into oblivion almost as soon as it was published, although it appeared in a highly ornamented 4to printed in Paris in 1676 with engravings to the expence [sic] of which the king contributed 10,000 livres." (The General Biographical Dictionary, Chalmers).
Indeed, this work is splendidly illustrated throughout with two large cherub vignettes (unsigned) and no less than 226 engraved illustrations signed by Chauveau, Le Pautre, and Le Clerc.
Head and tail of spine chipped, and replaced by two thin leather strips. 3" closed tear at lower front hinge. Some fading to gold tooling on spine. Clear water-staining at lower margin of the first five leaves. Lower corner of pp. 3/4 chipped (not affecting lettering). A 4 1/4" closed tear at lower half of pp. 315/316. Lower corner of last page crudely repaired (not affecting lettering). Moderate to heavy foxing and age-toning throughout. Binding in overall fair to good-, interior in good- to very good condition. f to vg. Item #44154
* Isaac de Benserade (1613-1691) was a French poet who began his literary career with the tragedy of "Cléopâtre" (1635), which was followed by four other pieces. He appears to have been connected with Richelieu, who bestowed on him a pension of 600 livres. On Richelieu's death Benserade lost his pension, but became more and more a favorite at court, especially with Anne of Austria. Benserade provided the words for the court ballets, and was, in 1674, admitted to the Academy, where he wielded considerable influence. In 1675 he provided the quatrains to accompany the thirty nine hydraulic sculpture groups depicting Aesop's fables in the labyrinth of Versailles. In 1676 the failure of his "Métamorphoses d'Ovide" in the form of rondeaux gave a blow to his reputation, but by no means destroyed his vogue with his contemporaries. Benserade may be best known for his sonnet on Job (1651). This sonnet, which he sent to a young lady with his paraphrase on Job, having been placed in competition with the Urania of Voiture, led to a dispute on their relative merits which long divided the whole court and the wits into two parties, styled respectively the Jobelins and the Uranists. The partisans of Benserade were headed by the prince de Conti and Mlle de Scudéry, while Mme de Montausier and Jean-Louis Guez de Balzac took the side of Voiture. (From Wikipedia).