Livres du 16ème siècle ou quand le portrait s’impose

Amis Bibliophiles bonjour,

Les portraits gravés constituent sans doute un des ornements les plus séduisants des livres anciens.  Outre les productions de suites ou au contraire d’images isolées, on rencontre dès le XVIe siècle de plus en plus souvent ces portraits d’auteurs ou de commanditaires ou d’égérie, sur bois ou sur cuivre, en illustration du livre. Ces portraits sont bien différents de ceux présentant l’auteur offrant son livre au dédicataire des incunables. Le personnage est dans la plupart des cas présenté en visage ou en buste, le portrait en pied signale une personnalité particulièrement célèbre. Je n’ai pas de données statistiques mais il me semble que le portrait au XVIe siècle est le plus souvent disposé au verso du titre (Ronsard,1560, Paris, Gabriel Buon; Jacques Grévin, 1562, Paris, Vincent Sertenas; Etienne Tabourot 1586, Paris, Jean Richer…) , parfois dans le corps de l’ouvrage ou accompagnant la dédicace, à l’occasion sur la page de titre (Nostradamus, Lyon, 1568; Henri de Guise, le martire des deux frères, [Charles Pinselet] 1589), rarement en frontispice, disposition qui en revanche, s’imposera comme prépondérante avec le temps. [ce que nous verrons ultérieurement]. Le portrait est généralement disposé dans un ovale, lui même placé dans un encadrement rectangulaire parfois orné de motifs Renaissance ou de symboles. L’accompagne, le nom du personnage portraituré, bien souvent son âge, parfois sa devise, ses armes, sa fonction, inscriptions disposées en orle ou hors cadre. Parfois une signature du peintre ou du graveur, une marque d’atelier est repérable. Ces portraits ont bien entendu été la proie des collectionneurs et bien des ouvrages ont été délestés de leurs hors textes ou plus grave encore, de leur page de titre dans ce seul but. Le défit qui consiste à retrouver le portrait manquant n’est pas mince…Justement il existe un petit ouvrage paru aux éditions “Belles Lettres” en 2007, fruit du travail de mesdames Thérèse Redier et Marie-Josèphe Beaud-Gambier. Les auteurs ont exploré le fond N 2 du département des Estampes de la Bnf et collecté 5600 portraits. Outre la présentation particulière de 80 d’entre eux, un index permet d’identifier ou non l’existence d’un personnage portraituré. On pourra aussi consulter ce rare catalogue de l’exposition de 2002 à la Bibliothèque du Château de Chantilly : “portraits gravés dans les livres français au temps des Valois”.
Merci Lauverjat,

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  2. Merci Lauverjat. Bon, l'original est de 1570, la seconde édition de 1572, avec le portrait donc, la mienne est la 5ème édition largement augmentée et renouvellée, de 1580. Il faut espérer qu'au cours de ces refontes, la mode du portrait soit passée….
    Interessant ouvrage que cet Etat et Succès des affaires de France. Je me souviens du passage sur l'entrevue de Charles VII et Jeanne d'Arc, raconté comme à Holywood :"Sortez de dessous le lit , Beau Sire, on vous a reconnu !"

  3. Pour Textor: Bernard de Girard du Haillan, "de l'estat et succez des affaires de France…"[suivi de] "histoire sommaire des comtes et ducs d'Anjou…" Paris, Pierre l'Huillier, 1572. Portrait au verso du titre.

    François Duaren, "de sacris ecclesiae ministeriis…" Paris, David, 1551.(verso du titre)
    Antoine Conte, "Tractatus…" Bourges, 1587. (verso du titre)
    Henri de Guise, [Pinselet], "le martire des deux frères…" 1589 (page de titre)

    Pour tous en gestation: la suite XVIIe, XVIIIe, XIXe.


  4. Voilà un article original que j'aurais aimé avoir eu l'idée d'écrire!
    Je fonce illico dans la bibliothèque faire une revue de portraits!
    Dites, de quelle édition est tirée celui de Girard du Haillan? mon exemplaire n'a pas de portrait. Vous me mettez le doute…
    Bonne soirée

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