1572 Humanae Salutis Monumenta, Benito Arias Montano. Richly illustrated after Pieter van der Borcht! Religious emblem book.


Emblems, envisioned by the remarkable Pieter van der Borcht, and executed by the most-skilled engravers (Buryn, Wierix, Huys) of the 16th century, representing the history of human salvation, from Adam and Eve to the Last Judgment, accompanied by mottos and Horatian odes, created by Benito Arias Montano.

"In 1568 Arias Montano was sent by Philip II to assist Plantin in the production of his famous Biblia Polyglotta. Montanus spent the next four years with Plantin, and several spectacular books resulted from their friendship, including this complex and exquisite scriptural emblem book, one of the first of its genre. The book is arranged in 71 chapters, each composed of a picture, mottos, and Horatian ode which Plantin credits to Arias Montano, whom he described as a skilled draftsman and inspired poet. Abraham de Bruyn, Pieter Huys, and brothers Jan and Hieronymus Wierix engraved the prints after 'modelli' by Pieter van der Borcht, who was given the task of translating Arias Montano's inventions into working drawings."

"In his prefaces to the Monumenta, Plantin elucidates the relation between the images and the text. He outlines two kinds of moral instructions present in the book: 'architectonic instruction'--pictorial imagery that presents straightforward moral lessons, comments on vices and virtues, and suggests ways in which the viewer can use the image; and 'poetic instruction'--verbal imagery that depicts things that cannot be expressed in images." - Worldcat OCLC reference

This copy is missing one engraving (perhaps removed for modesty, as it showed a nude Eve posed reminiscent to the Botticelli Venus shape) and the text on the rear of that leaf, so the book will be sold at a discount; also, the binding could use replacement.

At the time of listing, complete copies of this work were found on Vialibri for $10-12k, and one copy, missing three leaves (and an engraving, if the seller's count of 70 engravings is correct) was selling for $4,900. Please do review Vialibri for price reference.

I printed, on acid-free laid paper, a copy of the missing leaf (for reference only, it is not intended to replicate or replace the missing leaf) which will be included so the purchaser can have the reference easily at hand.

A Review -

“The most important , in any case the most prolific , artist collaborator of Plantin was the painter - engraver Pierre van der Borcht, who was born at Malines about 1545. Van der Borcht designed all the illustrations for the numerous botanical works published by Plantin, and illustrations for many other Plantin productions, among the most notable of which were the "Humanae Salutis Monumenta" of Ben Arias Montanus, 1571, one of the finest illustrated impressions of the period…” - The Printing Art Magazine, Design, Fred T. Singleton, Page 344, 1921

Bibliographic Details -

Universal Short Title Catalogue reference number 404665. Somewhat scarce, seven copies listed, three in the United States.

Worldcat OCLC reference number 865280937, among a handful of others, all with one copy (cataloguers seem to be failing at placing them under one entry). Still, indications are that it is a scarce edition.

Pettegree and Walsby, Netherlandish Books... before 1601 - reference 2495

This is recognized as the second edition. The first edition had decorative borders around the engravings. This edition has "Petrus van der Borcht Invent. 1572" at the base of the last engraving.

The British Museum's curator wrote - This volume was first published by Christopher Plantin in Antwerp in 1571; this is a republication of 1572. Thirty-two of these engravings were made by Abraham de Bruyn (after Pieter van der Borcht and Crispin van den Broeck). The other engravings in the book were made by Wierix, Huys and Crispin van den Broeck.

Illustrations present in this copy - Engraved title page, portrait of Christ, three engravings in A gathering, each leaf from B1-K2 (66) for a total of 69 (of the 70 produced; some references say 71 by adding the portrait of Christ, although it is in a different style).

Physical Attributes -

Measures approx. 16.5 x 10.5 x 1.5 cm, octavo. Mottled leather binding (poor condition); spine with four raised bands.

Pages - 75 of 76 unnumbered leaves (missing leaf which was intended to be A6), 1-39 (verse of 39 blank). 1st gathering has been bound out-of-order (seven leaves present, but not in the right order).

Collation - A1-A5 (missing leaf which was intended to be A6), A7-8, B-I8, K4, a-b8, c4. 1st gathering has been bound out-of-order (seven leaves present, but not in the right order).

Condition -

See pictures. Missing one leaf. 18th century mottled calf binding very worn (corner, edge wear and joint cracking) and mottling has ate away leather; could use a rebind. Pastedown with incorrect information about illustrations, in an old hand. No front blank endpaper.

Title page has a smudge of red on it, thumbing, and an ink spot. Throughout the book the pages are slightly toned, with an occasional dog-eared corner, candle ember spot, rust spot and thumb. 1st gathering is missing one leaf, the leaf of Eve was stolen, the stub visible at the gutter (see picture of leaf signed "B" at bottom; also, the first gathering is bound out-of-order. Ink smudge verso of B6. Very tiny bump along fore-edge at F and G gathering. Ink mark on recto, top-edge margin of last leaf c4. Another smudge of red on verso (blank) of last leaf.

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