Folio (292 x 191 mm).  48 pp. Engraved allegorical frontispiece and 7 emblematic engraved illustrations by Bartholomäus Kilian after Caspar Amort, floriated woodcut initials. A beautiful copy in contemporary silver-gilt-tooled vellum over pasteboards, covers with roll-tooled foliate and arabesque border, cornerpieces and central ornament, traces of two pairs of blue silk fore-edge ties, mottled edges. Provenance: this appears to be the copy offered by Robin Halwas, Catalogue 5 (2000), no. 97.***
First Edition of a handsome Baroque emblem book, produced by the Jesuit College of Munich to commemorate the birth, on 11 July 1662, of Prince Maximilian II Emmanuel (d. 1726), first son and heir to the Elector of Bavaria, Ferdinand Maria (1636–1679) and his wife Henriette Adelaide of Savoy (1636-1676).
Engraved by Bartholomäus II Kilian after a design supplied by the court painter Kaspar Amort, the frontispiece shows ten industrious cherubs in an outdoor worksite, building pieces of a triumphal arch whose image is held aloft on one side by two more putti and on the other by winged Fame, blowing a horn over which is draped a banner displaying the title. Wielding hammers and chisels, the putti in the foreground carve one of the ornate columns, while others measure angles and diameters. The planar surfaces are carved with blessings and predictions for the newborn.
The text relates the machinations, observations, and prognostications of allegorical figures and deities (the Genius of Bavaria, Fama, Mavors [Mars]) at the time of the prince’s birth. Their prophecies and exhortations are embodied in the seven emblems, which illustrate qualities of a wise ruler. The first, for example, “Pietas cum politia,” shows the “ship of state” in rough seas. A putto in the stern, flanked by the motto “Hic regit” (here he reigns), points to a clear spot in the heavens, labeled “Hinc regitur” (there he is governed). This injunction is elaborated upon in the accompanying text.
The remaining emblems show the Arts of peace and war (again showing laboring putti); Majesty and humanity (the sun and its reflection in a body of water); Magnificence and economy [i.e., prudence] (a fountain); Divine and human wisdom (Mercury flying between the electors’ palace and a church, symbolizing secular and religious powers), Justice and Mercy (one putto holds a ruler refracted in a pool, labeled “flectitur ad lacrimas” [he is persuaded by tears], while another holds a ruler on the ground, with the inscription “tenax recti,” [he is held steadfast]). The last emblem, “the Virtues of the most serene parents must be joined to the son,” shows two flying putti carrying portraits of mum and dad, hovering over a standing putto with a shaded portrait of a classical bust: the future prince Max II? Clear and simple, these emblems are easy to understand, even for a newcomer to this essential genre of 16th and 17th-century European literature.
A second edition appeared the same year, which corrected an error in one of baby prince’s many names, misidentified on the title as “Maximiliani Emmanuelis Ludovici Ferdinandi Josephi” instead of “... Mariae Josephi”; in that edition the text was condensed to 21 instead of 26 leaves.
OCLC locates 2 US copies of this edition (NGA, Penn) and one of the second edition (U. Illnois Urbana). VD 17 12:127621Z; Landwehr, German emblem books 1531-1888, 205; Hollstein, German etchings, engravings & woodcuts 1400–1700, XVI, p. 202, nos. 683–690 (misdating to 1681); Sommervogel-de Backer 5:1414, no. 171; McGeary & Nash, Emblem books at the University of Illinois, C31. Item #4201