GARDENS DESIGNED BY LE NOTRE; FOUNTAINS BY LE BRUN AFTER AESOP; ENGRAVINGS BY SEBASTIEN LE CLERC
PERRAULT, Charles. Labyrinte de Versailles. 34, , 79,  pp., with an engraved title-vignette (arms of France) and 41 full-page engravings by Sébastien Le Clerc. 8vo, 203 x 130 mm., bound in contemporary calf. Paris: Imprimerie Royale, 1677.
First Edition. "Only a few copies are known of the 1677 first edition; and even the 1679 second edition is an extremely rare book" (Harvard, Philip Hofer Bequest, no. 38). The suite provides a contemporary pictorial record of the fountains in the famed Aesop labyrinth garden at Versailles, which was designed and planted by Le Nôtre between 1668 and 1674. Referred to as the most delightful garden created for Louis XIV, the complex maze of hedges sequestered wondrous fountains with coloured bronze fountains designed by Charles Le Brun as inspired by Aesop's fables. Unfortunately, during the reign of Louis XVI the Labyrinthe was destroyed and replaced by the "Bosquet de la Reine." Robert W. Berger stresses the significance of the above work in his study In the Garden of the Sun King (Washington DC, 1985) pp. 29-40.
The first plate represents the entrance into the labyrinth between the statues of Aesop and l'Amour; the other plates depict trellises, fountains, and grottoes, etc., "a whimsical series of garden ornaments based on subjects from Aesop's fables. Thirty-nine fountains designed by Le Brun were set at key points within a maze in the gardens of the Château" (Hofer Bequest). The accompanying prose description of the labyrinth is by Charles Perrault (1628-1703) and the metrical moral verses from the plaque of each fountain are by Isaac de Benserade (1613-1691).
Berlin Katalog 3605. Brunet I, 1443. Bibliothèque Nationale, Inventaire du fonds francais: Gravures du XVIIe siècle VIII-IX 2818-2858. Hofer, Baroque Book Illustration 57.
Item nr. 169397