4to (251 x 182 mm). 390,  pp. Engraved frontispiece after Jacques Stella, engraved title vignette and four figurative initials opening each book, thick and thin double rule page-borders throughout. Title a bit dusty, small tear and wrinkling in lower margin of G1, occasional minor stains, some dust-soiling to outer margins. Late 18th- or 19-century red morocco, covers with gold-tooled border composed of a small scallop roll, a dotted roll, a thick fillet, and a small leafy roll, with flowering plant tools at corners, spine in seven gold-tooled compartments with floral and foliate tools, gilt edges, marbled endpapers, two silk ribbon markers. Provenance: Count Stephan Károlyi, 19th-century armorial bookplate (in French); manuscript shelfmark notes on front flyleaf; Sándor Károlyi, 20th-c. shelfmark label mounted on verso of title. ***
A handsome, large format edition of the Imitiatio Christi, printed at the Imprimerie Royale. The edition follows the text of the folio edition of 1640, which was the first book printed at the Royal Press, an indication of the centrality of the Imitatio in French religious and cultural life. The unsigned frontispiece, a reduced version of that of the 1640 edition, engraved by Claude Mellan after Jacques Stella, contains a dramatic scene of a sinner kneeling above an abandoned cornucopia of worldly goods, supported by an angel (or Veronica) who gestures toward the cross on which hangs the veil with the words of the title, suuronded by billowing clouds, cherubs, etc. The text, “volontarily anonymous” (Delaveau & Sordet, no. 221), is the version of Heribert Rosweyde. The stateliness of the edition, which is printed on heavy paper, is conveyed by the use of large Gros-Parangon (or possibly Palestine) roman types. Although the new Imprimerie Royale romain du roi types, designed by Grandjean in the 1690s (and easily recognizable by the tiny projection on the vertical bar of the lower-case l) had first been used over 30 years earlier (cf. Audin, Histoire de l’Imprimerie, p. 189), a traditional type fount was used here.
The well-preserved morocco binding may be a Hungarian imitation of classic French 18th-century bindings. The Károlyi family were “an illustrious, extremely wealthy, Roman Catholic aristocratic family who had played an important role in Hungarian life since the 17th century” (Wikipedia art., Mihály Károlyi). In the 19th century Count Stefan Károlyi purchased a property in Fót, near Mogyoród, Hungary, where he built a church and a vast mansion. He was deeply religious, and had spent time in France from 1818, where he was influenced by Lammenais. His library is described in an article in the Ungarische Revue, 1883 (p. 692), as being particularly rich in religious books and French literature.
Delaveau & Sordet 691; De Backer 358. Cf. ”Arnold Ipolyi’s Denkrede auf das Directionsmitglied Grafen Stefan Karolyi,” Ungarische Revue, 1883, pp. 673-710. Item #2909