WEIRD AND EXTRAVAGANT AND BIZARRE
DIETTERLIN, Wendel. Architectura von Ausstheiling, Symmetria und Proportion der Fünff Seülen. Five parts in one, continuously foliated (partly in ms.), 210,  ff. Five etched and engraved titles (the same plate with re-engraved lettering used for the titles to parts II and IV, a different plate used for the titles to parts III and V), ten text leaves (including colophon leaf), of which one with a half-page etching, and 196 full-page etched plates, of which plates 196-197, 202-203, and 204-205 attached and fold-out (the fold-out portions cropped to platemarks), the foliation including a duplicate copy of plate 158. Most of the plates with engraved foliation, some revised in ink, and some revised in the plate; first few leaves with contemporary ms. foliation, 57 plates supplied from a different copy (of the second issue), cropped to platemark and mounted; colophon (also from second issue) cut round and mounted. Folio, 331 x 220 mm, bound by the "Elte Bindery" in early eighteenth-century Dutch mottled calf gilt, sides with center- and cornerpiece design with foliate roll border incorporating a parrot, slightly narrower inner roll with arabesque tools at corners, centerpiece lozenge built up from drawer-handle and other tools, spine gilt in compartments with red morocco lettering-piece, and mottled edges. Nuremberg: Balthazar Caymox, 1598.
First Collected and Enlarged Edition of one of the most astounding architectural books ever produced, a masterpiece of draftsmanship intermixed with bizarre and extravagant fantasy. In this imaginative version of the traditional "column book," the Strassburg painter and decorator Wendel Dietterlin (1550-1599) provided a rich source of models for architects, designers, painters, sculptors, and cabinetmakers.
Dietterlin's work was instrumental in disseminating Renaissance decorative and architectural forms in Germany. Depicted are columns, pediments, chimneys, fountains, altarpieces, picture and window frames, doorways, gateways, extraordinary aperçus through giant keyholes, etc., many with human figures, all in an inexhaustibly imaginative Mannerist style, and most incorporating a fantastical element, whether of detail or overall perspective. Some of the plates, with their plunging views and simultaneous perspectives, prefigure the "impossible realities" of the twentieth-century Dutch artist M. C. Escher. Dietterlin's Architectura has retained its international vogue as a model book that mixes bizarre animals and plant forms with architectural ornament which is then incorporated into the classical architectural Orders, i.e. Tuscan, Dorian, Ionian, Corinthian, and Composite.
Dietterlin "conceives the column orders as little more than thematic categories or divisions into which fall a range of original decorative forms… Each book begins with plates relating the order's basic geometry or proportions, before passing to its decorative appurtenances with a lively if not sometimes nightmarish sensitivity. Terror and dementia are sometimes the impressions evoked by these images, as Dietterlin combines architectonic, human and animal forms with a pre-Piranesian sense of fantasy and humor that is unparalleled within the architectural literature of this time..." (Harry Francis Malgrave, Introduction, in Millard, Northern European, pp. 25-28).
The bibliography of Dietterlin editions is famously complicated. The first two books were published in 1593 and 1594 in German and Latin. This first complete edition was published the same year with the text in Latin, and in Latin and French. At least two different issues of the German edition are recorded, as well as variant states of individual plates (cf. Fairfax Murray catalogue and Fowler). In comparing impressions of the present second issue copy to a privately owned copy of the first issue, we discovered precisely the same light impressions to several of the delicate engravings.
This is a composite copy, assembled in the early eighteenth century by a Dutch owner from two separate copies, one of the first issue and one of the second issue: thus the preliminary material includes the general title from the first issue, followed by both the dedication leaf, to Daniel Soriau, from the second issue (which replaced the portrait), and the preface "to the reader" from the first issue; the colophon, cut round and mounted at end, is also from the second issue.
This copy was bound by the so-called "Elte Bindery," active in Amsterdam from 1697 to 1722 (so named after a copy of a four-volume work, bound similarly to the present copy, which was acquired in 1983 by the National Library in the Hague from the bookseller Meijer Elte): cf. Jan Storm van Leuuwen, Dutch Decorated Bookbinding in the Eighteenth Century (2006), I: 287.
Complete copies of any editions of Dietterlin's work are notoriously rare, and the fact that an owner of the early eighteenth century was obliged to make up a copy from two imperfect or damaged copies, which he then had elegantly bound by a foremost Amsterdam binder, testifies to its rarity - and desirability - two centuries after publication. Second dedication leaf extended at fore-edge; some discreet restoration to binding at joints.
PROVENANCE: Effaced inscription at head of title. The empty tombstone on plate 170 inscribed and dated 1880 [in memoriam?] Henriette Jentine[?] Gerardine Feltzer.
Brunet II, 706. Berlin Katalog 1942. Fairfax Murray German I, 134. Fowler 105. Andresen, Der Deutsche Peintre-Graveur II, 252-278. Hollstein German VI, 213-214. Millard, Northern European 29.
Item nr. 123970