(Paris: Chez Delormel, rue du Foin, 1767 - 1771).
ONE OF THE MOST FAMOUS FRENCH ILLUSTRATED BOOKS OF THE 18TH CENTURY AND ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL OF ALL ILLUSTRATED OVIDS EVER PRODUCED. This work includes the magnificent plates engraved for this superb edition of Ovid's Metamorphoses published by Le Mire and Basan 1767-1771, a book reverred during the great period of 18th century French illustration. The designs for this work were executed by a brilliant galaxy of artists such as Eisen, Boucher, Moreau, Le Prince, Monnet, and Choffard, and their designs were skillfully engraved by Le Mire and Basan. There is a significant biography of Ovid presented with this edition. The text is offered both in the Latin and in French. The romantic intersection is thus completed.
Though most illustrated books published in France at this time fell into the rococo style, Ovid's stories begged a classical treatment, and indeed this book marked the transition from rococo to neo-classical style, the latter being best exemplified by Moreau (in his later work) and Fragonard.
The poem is mainly a collection of Greek and Roman myths, retelling classical stories such as Echo and Narcissus, Jason and Medea, and Venus and Adonis. It also includes the Eastern Babylonian tale, Pyramus and Thisbe. This great epic work has been recognized throughout the centuries for its inventiveness, charm, and originality.
“As a story-teller and guide to Greek myth and Roman legend, Ovid was very influential on later Roman writers and was read, quoted, and adapted during the Middle Ages. He was the favourite Latin poet of the Renaissance, and there were many translations of his works into English.”-M.C.Howatson. His influence upon great writers through history, from Chaucer to Marlowe and Shakespeare, is well-known. Item #25584
4 volumes. First Edition of the most famous illustrated Ovid of the 18th century and one of the most beautiful French illustrated books of the period. Profusely decorated with very fine copperplates throughout, elaborately engraved head and tail-pieces throughout, engraved title-pages and preliminary leaves. A beautiful production. 139 Plates by Boucher, Eisen, Gravelot, Monnet, Moreau and others, engraved title, 3 pages of Dedication, 4 Fleurons on Titles, 30 vignettes and 1 very finely engraved full-page cul-de-lampe at the end of Vol. 4 by Choffad & Monnet 4to, contemporary French mottled calf, the covers with triple gilt filet rules at the borders, the spines richly gilt in compartments featuring elaborate panel designs incorporated corner and center tools gilt, raised bands gilt decorated and bordered, morocco lettering pieces gilt, blue moire silk end-leaves, all edges gilt. (4), xc, (2), 264; viii, 355; viii, 360; viii, 367, 8 pp. A fine set with only light aging to the bindings, text-block and plates in excellent condition. A beautiful survival of a great book with care having been shown in the preservation over the centuries.