Le Theatre d'Agriculture et Mesnage des Champs.
Finely engraved architectural title-page by Mallery with Henri IV seated on his throne in a garden, eight fine woodcut vignettes, fine woodcut initials, and 13 large woodcuts in Chapters XIII & XIV. 9 p.l., 3-1004,  pp. Folio, 18th cent. mottled calf (minor scuffing to binding extremities), spine gilt, contrasting lettering piece on spine. Paris: J. Metayer, 1600.
First edition of the first great French work on agronomy — in its widest sense — to be published. In this book, Serres devotes substantial sections to hunting, cookery, practical medicine, irrigation, forestry, viticulture, vegetable gardening, medicinal plants, fruit trees, silk cultivation, the management of servants, etc., etc. The author also discusses the duties of the mistress of the house and remedies for all manner of diseases suffered by men and animals.
The work is divided into eight books, one of which is devoted entirely to wine and the culture of the grape. At the head of each book is a pretty woodcut vignette (145 x 68 mm.) enclosed within an ornamental border. These show various scenes on the estate: cows, the dairy, etc.; in the next ploughing and sowing are in progress; the third illustrates viticulture and the wine press; others show milking scenes, bee-hives, landscape gardening, forestry, and at the end a hunting scene with falcons.
Serres (1539-1619), a Protestant, took part in the religious struggles in his native Vivarais. After 1573, he retired to his family’s property of Pradel where for more than a quarter of a century he tried to revive the estate. It was there that he wrote this great book, based on his own experience and on the classical texts concerning agriculture. Henri IV also had taken a strong interest in the economic regeneration of France and the present work became, in effect, a manifesto for the King’s new policies. Serres became a royal counselor in 1599 and advised Henri IV on various agricultural and economic projects.
A very good and fresh copy. Minor foxing and a few unimportant marginal dampstains. Single tiny wormhole in lower margin of first third of book.
❧ En Français dans le Texte 79. Simon, Bibliotheca Bacchica, II, 619. Vicaire, pp. 788-89.
Item ID: 2534