The Noble art of Venerie or Hunting. Wherein is handled and set out the Vertues, Nature, and Properties of fifteen sundry Chaces, together with the order and manner how to Hunt and kill every one of them. George TURBERVILLE, George GASCOIGNE.
The Noble art of Venerie or Hunting. Wherein is handled and set out the Vertues, Nature, and Properties of fifteen sundry Chaces, together with the order and manner how to Hunt and kill every one of them
The Noble art of Venerie or Hunting. Wherein is handled and set out the Vertues, Nature, and Properties of fifteen sundry Chaces, together with the order and manner how to Hunt and kill every one of them
The Noble art of Venerie or Hunting. Wherein is handled and set out the Vertues, Nature, and Properties of fifteen sundry Chaces, together with the order and manner how to Hunt and kill every one of them
The Noble art of Venerie or Hunting. Wherein is handled and set out the Vertues, Nature, and Properties of fifteen sundry Chaces, together with the order and manner how to Hunt and kill every one of them
The Noble art of Venerie or Hunting. Wherein is handled and set out the Vertues, Nature, and Properties of fifteen sundry Chaces, together with the order and manner how to Hunt and kill every one of them
The Noble art of Venerie or Hunting. Wherein is handled and set out the Vertues, Nature, and Properties of fifteen sundry Chaces, together with the order and manner how to Hunt and kill every one of them
The Elizabethan Hunt
“Beautifully Illustrated Handbook” (Hamrick)
With Woodblocks Altered for the Reign of King James
London, Thomas Purfoot, 1611.

The Noble art of Venerie or Hunting. Wherein is handled and set out the Vertues, Nature, and Properties of fifteen sundry Chaces, together with the order and manner how to Hunt and kill every one of them.

4to [19.0 x 14.7 cm], (3) ff. (without the first blank), 1-200 pp., (2) ff., 201-250 pp. [pp. 205-205 skipped in the numbering], (2) ff. music, with, woodcut title vignette of hunters and hounds, (47) woodcut illustrations in the text (9 of which are repeats), woodcut initials and tailpieces. Bound in 19th-century red morocco by Ramage, spine gilt in six compartments, gilt-paneled covers, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. Minor rubbing and edge wear to spine and boards, joints tender, bookplate of Fox Pointe Manor to front flyleaf, unidentified bookplate (‘C’, with a Beardsley illustration) inside upper cover. Small marginal rust hole at p. 173, a few lower fore-edge corners restored, occasional minor staining.

Rare 1611 (second) edition of The Noble art of Venerie or Hunting, an important and “beautifully illustrated handbook” treating all aspects of Elizabethan hunting and which “influenced a broad range of readers in early modern England” (Hamrick, 9). The work is largely a translation of Jacques de Fouilloux’s “astoundingly popular hunting treatise” (Jablonski, 185) La Vénerie (1561), reworked and adapted to English hunting practices and for English audiences by the poet and courtier George Gascoigne (1535-77). The volume was long incorrectly attributed to the poet George Turberville (c. 1540-1610), whose The Book of Falconry or Hawking (1575) is sometimes found bound with it. The Noble art of Venerie gives special attention to the use of hounds in the hunting of the stag, or hart, but also includes chapters on hunting the reindeer, roe dear, wild goat, boar, hare, rabbit (‘conie’), fox, badger, marten, otter, wolf, and the bear.

 

Discussed (and illustrated) are several types of hunting hound, methods of breeding them, rearing and selecting the most promising puppies, setting up a proper kennel, training hounds for the hunt, and identifying and treating dozens of canine maladies (with recipes for the appropriate drugs). The appearance and behavior of the hart is thoroughly addressed, with special attention given to illustrating antlers, hoof prints, droppings, tracking techniques and maneuvers of the hunt, hunting calls and terminology, setting the hounds upon the hart, slaying it, butchering it, and rewarding the hounds for their efforts. A similar formula is used in discussing the wide variety of animals listed above (an especially charming illustration from this latter part of the volume depicts a fierce badger next to a diagram of the special metal tongs used in its capture).

 

Gascoigne adds a long excursus about the specifically ‘English manner’ of butchering a stag (p. 132-35), and much is also made of the rules of comportment among a courtly hunting party, with some of this material having been adapted for an English context. The woodblocks of the first edition (1575) were reused to print the illustrations for the present 1611 edition, but, fascinatingly, two images were altered to reflect England’s new political reality: Queen Elizabeth has been excised and replaced by King James in scenes of the hunting party’s picnic (p. 91) and of the monarch’s first right of butchering (p. 133) (the seams joining the newly cut section of the woodblock to the old section remain faintly visible in the printed image).

 

Also interesting in the The Noble art of Venerie or Hunting are 4 long ‘first-person’ poems spoken by the quarry (e.g., “The wofull words of the Hart to the Hunter,” “The Otter’s Oration”) that give a voice to animals commonly pursued in the hunt, a glossary of ‘venery’ terminology, and 4 pages of musical notation for horn (‘The measures of blowing’) describing 17 calls for common hunting situations (e.g., ‘When the Game doth breake Covert,’ ‘The death  of a Deare with Bowe, or Greyhounds’) and how these musical signals should be played (‘To be blowen with three winds”).

 

OCLC locates U.S. copies of this 1611 edition at the Library of Congress, American Museum of Natural History, Newberry, Augustana College, Illinois, Williams, Michigan, Dartmouth, Wisconsin, Morgan Library, Iowa, Chicago, Princeton, University of South Carolina, Texas, William & Mary, Huntington, Yale, Harvard, and Georgia.

 

The 1575 first edition is housed at the Huntington, Transylvania University, Newberry, Princeton, South Carolina, Texas, and Yale.

 

* STC 24329; McGill/Wood 604; Huth Library, vol. 4, p. 1492; Schwerdt, Hunting, Hawking, Shooting, vol. 2, pp. 270-71; S. Jablonski, Works of Violence: Rubens and the Hunt; S. Hamrick, “‘Set in Portraiture’: George Gascoigne, Queen Elizabeth, and Adapting the Royal Image,” Early Modern Literary Studies, vol. 11, no. 1 (2005), pp. 1-30.

Price: $8,500.00

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