The Rare First Edition

INSTRUCTION POUR LES JARDINS FRUITIERS ET POTAGERS, Avec Un Traité Des Orangers, Suivy de Quelques Réflexions Sur L'Agriculture.

Paris: Claude Barbin 1690. First edition of what must be regarded as the most influential book in the history of pomology. Although trained as a lawyer, a visit to the gardens of Italy in 1656 while serving as tutor to the son of Jean Tombonneau produced in La Quinitinie an interest in horticulture which he pursued upon his return to France. His genius was readily recognized by a series of wealthy employers, including the Prince de Condé at Chantilly and Colbert at Sceaux. He also worked alongside Le Notre in creating the jardin potager for Fouquet at Vaux-le-Vicomte, and when the envious Louis XIV put Fouquet in jail and seized Vaux for himself, La Quintinie was sent with Le Notre to Versailles. After first taking charge of the old fruit and vegetable gardens there he designed and oversaw the construction of the new Potager du Roi between 1677 and 1683. It survives very much intact to this day. La Quintinie traveled to Italy and England to study the state of horticulture in those countries. In England he visited Evelyn and reputedly refused an offer from Charles II to take charge of the royal gardens there. La Quintinie was particularly famous for producing fruits and vegetables out of season. He conducted numerous experiments toward this end and did much to perfect the art of forcing. His INSTRUCTION POUR LES JARDINS FRUITIERS ET POTAGERS offers an instructive treatise based on the results of these experiments and discoveries. He made extensive use of espalier planting at Versailles, a new technique introduced to him by Arnauld D'Andilly. His careful observations on this new practice, along with engraved illustrations, are included here, along with his directions for significant new techniques in pruning and grafting. In addition to his practical instructions there is a detailed description of the gardens at the Potager du Roi accompanied by a folding engraved plan. A comprehensive 68 page dictionary of French horticultural terms is provided (the earliest such dictionary we are aware of) and this alone makes the book invaluable to the study of early gardening practices in France. The work's authority was immediately recognized. A pirated edition appeared in Amsterdam within two years, followed by numerous other reprints in Paris, Amsterdam and elsewhere. John Evelyn wrote a translation which appeared in London in 1693, and others freely plagiarized or adapted the text throughout the 18th century. In spite of its immediate success the first edition is notoriously rare. It was not a book destined to sit unused on the shelf and thus very few copies have survived complete in their original bindings. It is not found in the Hunt Catalogue (which does include several later editions and translations) nor is it listed in Musset-Pathay (which cites a later edition only), Plesch MILLE ET UN LIVRES, or Cleveland. Oak Spring Pomona #1; Pritzel 5075. Two volumes, 4to (25.3 x 18.2 cm); (iv) + 522 + (2), 568 pp. with nine engraved vignettes and three garden plans + frontispiece portrait + folding garden plan + 12 plates of tools and pruning methods.

Contemporary full mottled calf, all edges gilt; minor wear and chipping to covers; old ownership mark erased on title pages with abrasion wearing through paper on volume one; a few minor pencil corrections, but text otherwise a very good copy.
Book ID: 15769
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