Marmora et adfines Lapides coloribus suis [English title: A Representation of Different Sort of Marble]
by [WIRSING, Adam Ludwig]
Finely handcolored engraved title-page & 100 exquisitely handcolored engraved plates. 11 p.l. (incl. engraved title), 71 leaves of explanatory text in five languages (German, English, French, Latin, & Dutch), one leaf of "Nachricht." Large 4to (303 x 238 mm.), attractive antique cat's paw calf (remains of small paper label on blank portion of engraved title), triple gilt fillet round sides, spine finely gilt, green morocco lettering piece on spine, entirely uncut. Amsterdam: J. C. Sepp, 1776. Second edition, the most complete, and of the greatest rarity. This magnificent work, here in a remarkable uncut copy, contains 100 finely engraved plates of polished stone samples (a total of 568 samples), all in magnificent original coloring. The work had first been issued in Nuremberg in 1775, and covered most of the German deposits of marbles and allied ornamental stones. The 1775 issue (see Sinkankas 7281) consisted of 54 plates with German & Latin text only. For the present, 1776 edition, the Amsterdam publisher Sepp had the number of plates enlarged to 100, now with non-German deposits, including French and Italian. For this edition, text has been supplied by the German mineralogist C.C. Schmi(e)del (1718-92). Both Brunet and Graesse know of not more than 98 plates published, with explanatory text to plate 75 only, and Sinkankas 7282 notes having seen a copy in the trade with only 56 leaves of text and 73 plates. Our copy is completely complete. "Very little is known about the author of this splendid work aside from what he gives in his title. Magnificent, outstanding color-plate book of the Mineral Kingdom, depicting an almost infinitely-varied series of marbles and allied ornamental stones from deposits in Germany and nearby countries. Presumably each of the rectangular panels represents the appearance of a polished slab, with most plates depicting six such pieces, but others two, four, and as many as nine. While one is immediately captivated by the richness and depth of the watercoloring, often heightened by the application of opaque white for veinlets, it can be seen that under each painting lies a complex, lightly-incised network of lines, almost like rouletting, over which the colors have been laid. Near the end of the volume appear the most complex designs, beautifully done, of slabs of dendritic limestones... "In regard to the so-called 'marbles,' all are by no means the granular/crystalline metamorphic rocks normally considered to be marbles but include numerous very fine-grained types that probably are limestones, many veined, others spotted, and still others brecciated, and including fossiliferous varieties. In some examples the banding suggests that these are calcite onyxes or possibly several cut from cave onyxes...The accompanying text provides brief descriptions and in places footnotes in Latin & German, with locality and an indication in feet of the sizes of the unbroken rock sections that can be removed from the quarries concerned... "According to the English closing note, this work was published in 100 plates but the Lathrop Harper catalog of 1977 included an example in 12 parts only 'with original part wrappers bound in,' and with only 56 leaves of text and 73 plates. This suggests that the work was regularly issued in parts by subscription and therefore accounts for examples containing less than the maximum number of 100 plates. In addition to the localities indicated in the first edition there are new plates for marbles from the south of France, Brabant, Saxony, and Italy, with a supplement of miscellaneous stones as porphyry, syenite, granite, jasper, lapis lazuli, amethyst, and others."-Sinkankas, II, pp. 1133-34. A remarkably crisp and fresh uncut copy. ❧ Brunet IV, 1243. Schuh, Mineralogy: A Bio-Bibliography, 4998-(obviously not having seen a copy)-"Both editions of this unusual book are very rare. Unlike the present day meaning, the word marble during the late eighteenth century refers to any stone that can be cut and polished for decorative purposes...The spectrum of colors and patterns inherent in natural rock is accurately reflected in the fine hand colored plates that exhibit extraordinary patterns of color in their figures.".
(Inventory #: 6585)
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