THE BEGINNING OF GARDEN DESIGN AS AN ART
BOYCEAU, Jacques. Traite du Jardinage, selon les raisons de la nature et de l'art. Divise en trois livres. Ensemble divers desseins de Parterres, Pelouzes, Bosquets et autres ornements servans à l'embellissement des Jardins. , 87,  pp. Illustrated with an engraved title-page by Van Lochom, engraved portrait of Boyceau after De Vris, 61 plates comprising a total of 79 copper-engraved subjects printed on 36 single-page engraved plates (including one with 2 engravings on the page), 24 double-page engraved plates, and 1 quadruple folding engraved plate, plus numerous engraved head- and tailpieces and large engraved initials, and one half-page engraving depicting winds. Plus there are 9 extra engravings of garden plans published by Bonnart bound in at the rear. Folio, 384 x 273 mm, bound in eighteenth-century French speckled calf, gilt-tooled compartments on spine, red morocco title-label. Paris: Michel Van Lochom, 1638.
First Edition of the first treatise devoted primarily to the pleasure garden. Boyceau offered a new aesthetic approach to garden design and in so doing elevated the metier of garden design into an art.
The Traite du Jardinage, published posthumously by his nephew Jacques de Nemours, determined the character of the French seventeenth- and eighteenth-century formal garden that was brought to its climax by André Le Nôtre a generation later. The creative significance of Boyceau's book in relation to the history of European garden design cannot be overestimated, as there is no comparable basic statement of principles either for the Italian or English garden, and therefore it remains one of the single most influential works on the art of garden design in Europe.
Jacques Boyceau, Sieur de la Barauderie (ca. 1565-ca. 1635), was appointed Intendent des jardins du roi in 1602, and he continued to hold his appointment under Louis XIII after the assassination of Henri IV (in 1610), at which time he was recognized as an authority on garden planning. From the Traité (Privilege, fol. a3v) we know that Boyceau was involved with the gardens at Fontainebleau, although no extant record of his work there exists. The illustrations in the Traité include parterres executed to his designs for the gardens of Marie de Médici at the Luxembourg Palace, the "new" château commissioned by Louis XIII at Versailles, the château-neuf at St. Germain-en-Laye, the Louvre, and the Tuileries. "[Boyceau] planned the new parterres for the Tuileries gardens and his beautiful designs greatly excited the admiration of the next generation... [he] is regarded as the precursor of the great development of French gardening" (Gothein, A History of Garden Art).
In general Boyceau's designs are strikingly original; they differ significantly from those of his predecessors (cf. Serlio's Architettura Book IV, Du Cerceau's Plus excellents bastiments, and to a lesser extent Claude Mollet's designs for the Tuileries and St. Germain-en-Laye as depicted in Olivier de Serres' Theatre d'agriculture). Just as Boyceau owed little to his precursors or contemporaries, some of his designs (particularly those of parterres) clearly foreshadow the future, and thus provide an obvious precedent for Le Nôtre and his successors, not only on the Continent but in England as well.
Kenneth Woodbridge writes: "[Boyceau's] designs for parterres de broderie in the Traité du Jardinage are the earliest representations of garden decoration in this style, for which reason he has been credited with its invention... Boyceau's book was the first French text to be devoted to pleasure-gardens and their ornament, stressing the importance of variety, not only in the plan and in relief but in the use of sites where there are differences of level" (Oxford Companion to Gardens).
The collation of Boyceau's Traite du Jardinage is complex in the extreme; inconsistencies exist among nearly every bibliography. We have collated our copy against the 1997 Nördlingen facsimile. The introduction to the Nördlingen facsimile declares that no two copies are exactly alike; the engraved plates were never numbered, and there is no reference in the text to particular plates. We have determined that: the present copy contains two single-page plates that are not present in the Nördlingen facsimile, and there are two plates in the facsimile not in our copy.
The quadruple plate repaired, some occasional marginal waterstaining, but overall in good condition. The only copy listed at auction by ABPC is the seriously defective John Evelyn copy (44 double page plates, sold in 1977 to Weinreb of London).
PROVENANCE: Bibliotheca de Bresse with ex-libris. Château de Pierre-de-Bresse is in the Bourgogne region of eastern France. Ownership traces back to 1092, however, it was Jacques de Thyard, Marquis de Bissy (1648-1744) who was likely the first owner to engage in construction of the gardens surrounding this historic Chateau under the influence of Boyceau's Traite du Jardinage.
Ernest de Ganay, Bibliographie de l'art des Jardins 17 (now Bibliothèque nationale, 43 planches). Guilmard 65 (26 doubles and 36 simples). Berlin Katalog 3442 (59 plates). Destailleur 542 (63 plates). Pouillon 19 (62 plates). Grosseuvre (64 plates, of which 26 doubles).
Item nr. 166932