First Edition of the collected works of poet and playwright Guillaume Coquillart, printed in a comely lettre ronde by Antoine Augereau for Galliot du Pré. Born in Reims, Coquillart studied law in Paris, and eventually gained membership to the Basoche, the Paris court system's guild of law clerks, established in 1303, from which procureurs (advocates) were selected by those in legal trouble. The Basoche were known to perform satirical and literary plays in the Palais de Justice, and sometimes extemporaneous theater in the streets of Paris, or privately for their Basoche colleagues. The plays were invariably set in courtrooms, and always featured dance and dramatic costumery—law, lawyers, court rigor, and legal cant were mercilessly lampooned. The present first edition of Coquillart's Oeuvres comprises six short lyric plays,1 the most famous of which is Les droitz nouveaulx, a sendup of law books and a celebration of the humor inherent in legal jargon. According to M.J. Freeman, in his analysis of Les droitz nouveaulx, this groundbreaking verse play is less mocking than it is just plain funny, and would have been deeply amusing to the members of the Basoche, for whom Coquillart composed it. It was bawdy, rowdy, and short, and was sometimes performed twice in succession, acting as its own encore. The other plays in the book—Le plaidoyer entre la simple et la rusée, Le Blason des armes et des dames, Le Monologue de botte de foing, Le Monologue de puys, and Le monologue des perrucques2—each isolate a scenario or object, and expose its base absurdities against the backdrop of a courtroom. According to Jules Gay, Coquillart was at his literary best when focusing on the folly of human romance: husbands and wives, ill-suited lovers, love triangles, rakes and tarts, love quadrangles, youthful beauties and slavering dotards. Ultimately Basoche drama would form a corner of the foundation of the national theater in France, with Coquillart as its cardinal practitioner. Coquillart was justly admired by contemporaries and near-contemporaries, most particularly Clément Marot. Les Oeuvres were reprinted throughout the 16th century; all later imprints were based on the present Galliot du Pré edition. In 2019 a Bonnemère printing of 1532 realized €21,875 at auction, and in 2010 the Duc de la Vallière/Edouard Rahir copy of a 1532 Galliot du Pré first edition realized €37,500. Ours is a pleasing, honest copy of the first edition.
Paris: Antoine Augereau for Galliot du Pré, 1532.
Octavo, 132 x 85 x 18 mm (binding), 130 x 83 x 16 mm (text block). A-T8,V4 =158 ff. [recte 156 ff.; 49 and50 skipped in foliation.] Mid 17th-century binding of red morocco gilt (binder unidentified, but of the Maître doreur school), with late-18th century reback, gilt, black morocco skiver lettering piece reading COQUILLAR. The reback is perhaps the most expert we have seen, from any era; the work is virtually invisible, even in a raking light, and structurally sound. Interior: Title with small, pale stain and paper fill, not affecting text. Last few leaves with inoffensive transparent stain in gutter. A few contemporary corrections in ink.
The dramaturge Antoine de Ferriol de Pont-de-Veyle's copy, with his unobtrusive custodial signature to head margin of title. The De Ferriol library, rich in chansons, parodies, and verse theater, was sold after his death in 1774. Anonymous 18th-century note on Coquillart in ink to verso of front free end. Liqueur magnate Max Cointreau's copy, with his postmortem ex-libris to upper pastedown. Cointreau began acquiring rare books on sugar in his youth, and his collection eventually grew into one with a dual focus: French humanism and gastronomy. Cointreau married into the Rémy-Martin family in the 1970s.
USTC 27552 (two copies in US, NYPL and Morgan); Pettegree 14251; Veyrin-Forrer (Augereau) No. 2; Moreau Vol. IV, No. 387; Renouard (ICP) I, No. 542; Rothschild No. 461; Tchemerzine Vol. II, p. 512; Gay-Lemonnyer, Vol. III p. 487 ("Nulle part, on ne voit mieux que dans Coquillart agir et parler le monde des amoureux et des amoureuses, des femmes et des maris, des trompeuses et des jaloux, des jeunes beaux et des vieux barbons, des filles d'amour et de leurs dupes. Ils ont tous, et c'est une des valeurs de l'œuvre de ce railleur, les habits, le langage et les idées du XVe siècle, mais sans cesser de jouer un des actes de l'éternelle comédie humaine"); Brunet Vol. II, Col. 266; Freeman, M.J. "Les éditions anciennes de Coquillart," Bibliothèque d'Humanisme et Renaissance, Vol. 36, No. 1, Paris: Droz, 1974; No. 12 (asserting priority over the Antoine Bonnemère edition of the same year), pp. 87-88, 96; Freeman, M.J. "La satire affectueuse dans les Droitz nouveaulx de Guillaume Coquillart," Bulletin de l'Association d'étude sur l'humanisme, la réforme et la renaissance, No. 11/1, 1980, pp. 92-99; Esmein, Jean Paul Hippolyte Emmanuel Adhémar, "Basoche," (in) Chisholm, Hugh (ed.) Encyclopædia Britannica, 11th ed. CUP: pp. 484–485. Overlooked by David Murray in Lawyers' Merriments.
1The seventh item as listed in the table of matters on verso of title, les aultres petites oeuvres—brief poems—were not included in this edition.
2The last two possibly spurious.
Status: On Hold