Small 8vo (154 x 86 mm). , 60, , [3 blank] pp. Line-engraved title vignette & 28 engraved illustrations in text, some two to a page, most of female busts, four of animals' heads, the last two showing full-length female figures including a saint next to a palm tree. Faint offsetting of engravings; slight scuffing to extremities of binding,. Bound ca. 1790-1810 in French citron morocco, triple gilt fillet framing sides, smooth spine gold-tooled with fleurons and monogram AAP or AAR, black calf lettering-piece, board edges & turn-ins gilt, pale blue silk liners, vellum flyleaves, edges gilt (faint small stain on upper cover). Provenance: Pierre Bulteau de Préville, 18th-century engraved armorial bookplate by P. Giffart (mounted on title verso), his sale September 1727; unidentified owner, monogram on binding; George Hibbert (1757-1837), penciled note of acquisition at the Hibbert sale, 1829, shelfmark W3780; Laurent Currie, bookplate. ***
Only Edition. A fine copy of an eccentric treatise on female looks. Vaenius derives his canon of beauty from verses of the Canticum Canticorum, and compares different facial types to specific animals. Each of the 14 chapters opens with a verse from the Song of Songs, and concludes with Vaenius' own(?) Latin verses. Many of the neat outline engravings of female heads or figures are paired with pictures of the relevant animal. At times the author interprets the biblical verses too literally, as if to buttress his physiological theories, but elsewhere his exegesis is straightforward and insightful. Chapter IX, on the famous "I am Black and Beautiful" verse (1.5), with its illustration of a dark-skinned princess, has received much attention from those mostly DWM who have historically described this book. The chapter on teeth, compared to a flock of just shorn and washed sheep, is also interesting.
Brunet V:1026; Gay-Lemonnyer III:1228; Funck 405; Krivatsy 12098; Dorbon, Bibliotheca Esoterica 5014. Item #2257