Some Dutch Works from the Antiquariaat Forum
By Michael Stillman
The Antiquariaat Forum of the Netherlands released a Short Title List in conjunction with the recent Amsterdam Antiquarian Book and Print Fair. As one might expect of a Dutch bookseller attending a show in Holland, most of the items listed are in Dutch. For those who collect Dutch books in particular, but also other European works and even European Americana, the Antiquariatt Forum is a logical resource. They always present an outstanding collection of antiquarian and rare books of interest to such collectors. However, in keeping with the fair's location, this catalogue is a bit more concentrated in Dutch works than usual. Here are a few items.
Naauwkeurige Beschryving der Aardgewassen may not be easy for English speakers to pronounce, but its striking illustrations speak a universal language of beauty. Abraham Munting was a 17th century botany professor at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands who maintained a famous garden of plants from all over the world. He wrote a number of books, but this was his most impressive, though not published until 1696, some thirteen years after his death. It is noted for its most remarkable illustrations. Munting set his plants in front of spectacular backgrounds, beautiful landscapes and buildings from places where these plants never grew. The oversized drawings of plants and fruits must have been the inspiration for the famed children's book "James and the Giant Peach" as they have the same surrealistic feel. You need not know a word of Dutch to appreciate this extraordinary work. Item 41. Priced at 37,100 (Euros, or US equivalent of $47,233).
Lettres to Iappon, Peru, et Brasil provides something for collectors of Americana, at least from America to the south. This is a compilation of Jesuit letters, published in 1580, from Japan, Peru, and Brazil. Item 32. 31,800 (US $40,486).
Romances Mises en Musique... was composed by Hortense de Beaubarnais. If her name is not instantly recognizable, her lineage is. Her father, executed during the French Reign of Terror, was the first husband of Empress Josephine, Napoleon's first wife. Her mother, naturally, was Josephine. In 1802, at Napoleon's instigation, she married his brother, Louis Bonaparte. It was evidently a loveless marriage, but when the French Emperor decided to make his brother King of Holland in 1806, Hortense became Queen. Louis was apparently a relatively good king for a foreigner, more concerned about his subjects than France, thereby leading his brother to force his abdication in 1810. Hortense went her own way, having an illegitimate son the following year. However, the third of her legitimate three children (some have questioned his legitimacy) would go on to be Napoleon III, who ruled France from 1849-1870. Hortense, who died in 1837, did not live to enjoy this restoration. Around 1810, her book of musical scores and texts inspired by legendary romances (unlike her own marriage) was published, evidently while she was still Queen. Item 7 is Hortense's own copy of her book. 13,250 (US $16,875).