Folio [41.5 x 27.5 cm], (4) ff. comprising title, descriptive list of plates, dedication to Henri IV and amateurs d'architecture, 40 consecutively numbered plates, of which the author's portrait is #1. Bound in contemporary speckled calf, spine rebacked preserving original gilt flowers, endpapers renewed. Some minor soiling and worming in upper and lower blank areas of title. Pale waterstain running across topmost quarter of some plates, but fairly minor. Generally a very good copy with the plates in good impressions. A second edition appeared in 1640, and Robert Pricke produced an English version in London in 1669 (Wing F-2056).
Rare first edition of this Mannerist suite of designs for triumphal arches and entrances, by a Florentine who had been invited to the French court by Marie de Medici, became royal engineer to Louis XIII, and built grottos and fountains on the grounds of St. Germain-en-Laye and Fontainebleau. He was assisted in these projects by his brother, Tomasso. The designs show how structures intended for the garden retained an element of fantasy and a freedom that looks back to Serlio or ahead to the Baroque but which was increasingly at odds with the restrained French classicism associated with Lemercier, Mansart and Martellange.
Of all the orders, Francini favored the massive Doric, using its forms and proportions in no fewer than 19 designs. Six projects incorporate the Tuscan column, six the Ionic, five the Corinthian, and three the Composite. "The format of the book is still that of the 16th century. Francini designs doorways and gates according to the five orders of architecture, a practice popularized by Serlio. But the emphasis on the style of modern architects who, according to Francini, have married art and science, is new, as is the emphasis on the qualities of the orders (thickness, roughness, and heaviness) and on the symbolic relationships of the orders with, for instance, justice and strength, rather than on a determination of their proportions..." (Millard, French, p. 193, 1640 ed.).
The inscription of ‘Francini’ intriguingly appears on the title page of this work.
* Fowler 126; Wiebenson III-A-12; Millard, French, 75 (2nd ed. of 1640); Hillary Ballon in Avery's Choice, no. 76; Berlin Katalog 3852; Brunet II.1374; Nagler, Künstler-Lexicon IV.448; Graveurs du XVIIe siècle I.493-94, nos. 298-307; Guilmard, Les Maitres ornemanistes (Paris, 1880), pp. 311-13; Albert Mousset, Les Francine, créateurs des eaux de Versailles (Paris, 1930).
A second edition appeared in 1640, and Robert Pricke produced an English version in London in 1669 (Wing F-2056).