LECLERC, Jean (1560-1621). Theatre geographique du royaume de France contenant les cartes & descriptions particulieres des provinces d'iceluy. Paris: Jean LeClerc, 1626.

$ 45,000.00

LECLERC, Jean (1560-1621). Theatre geographique du royaume de France contenant les cartes & descriptions particulieres des provinces d'iceluy. Paris: Jean LeClerc, 1626.

Folio (16 6/8 x 11 inches). Fine double-page engraved world map after Mercator - Hondius: "Orbis Terrae Novissima Descriptio", 1602, a general map of France and and 47 regional maps on 45 double-page map-sheets (some marginal pale waterstaining, occasionally affecting the image). Contemporary calf, each panel with a border of double fillets, and with the supra libros of Don Gaspard Guzman, El Conde de Olivares on the front cover, all edges gilt (rebacked, portions of old spine laid down, rubbed, supra libros a bit worn).

Provenance: with the supra libros of Don Gaspard Guzman, El Conde de Olivares (1587-1645), prime minister (1623–1643) and court favourite (valido) of King Philip IV of Spain, and with manuscript annotations to the verso of each map, probably in his hand; Ex-Libris Jean R. Perrette, his sale, Christie's New York, 5th April 2016, lot 40

Fifth edition, of this beautiful and comprehensive atlas of France, with an astonishingly apt association, being from the library of Don Gaspard Guzman, El Conde de Olivares, prime minister (1623–1643) and court favourite (valido) of King Philip IV of Spain.

Leclerc's atlas was issued at a time when the protection of the Spanish overseas empire had become the central consideration in Spanish relations with the Dutch rebels. A continued slump in silver shipments from America heralded a rapid, long-term decline. Enter Don Gaspard Guzman, a powerful figure who had a major impact on Spanish politics and culture during the reign of Philip IV. He was both a military general and the patron who brought Velázquez to the young king’s court. From 1623 until January 24, 1643, Olivares served as prime minister of Spain. He was unswervingly loyal to the king and was vehemently patriotic. He was also avid for power—both for himself and for Spain. The main objective of his domestic policy was to engender national unity among the separate kingdoms of the peninsula, kingdoms that he described as “anachronistic as crossbows.” 

Olivares' Union of Arms, a scheme for the creation of a reserve army of 140,000 men that was to be paid for by the dominions of the Spanish empire in proportion to their estimated resources, directly caused the revolts of Catalonia and Portugal. Catalonia refused to join, refused to pay the new taxes, and refused to fight for Spain: "In 1639 Olivares opened a campaign against southern France from Catalonia. It had no rational strategic objective except to pitchfork Catalonia into the war. If the Catalans had to defend their country, Olivares argued, they would have to support the army" (Encyclopedia Britannica). Eventually the continued Spanish involvement in the Thirty Years’ War ended with the eclipse of Spanish power by France. Yet in the period of the Counter-Reformation it is difficult to conceive of Spain following a different course; in this sense it was almost inevitable, and Olivares can hardly be judged in terms of its ultimate failure.

Maurice Bouguereau issued the first national atlas of regional maps in 1594. Le Clerc acquired the plates and re-printed the maps between 1619 and 1620 with 23 additional maps and the his widow published this edition in 1626 with a total of 49 maps. Jean Leclerc was the fourth generation of publishers. He arrived with his family in Tours as a refugee from Wars of Religion he began as an apprentice to Bouguereau. Bouguereau. Pastoureau: Leclerc E 1626; Tooley, p. 40.