CAUS, Salomon de. La Perspective, auec la raison des ombres et miroirs. [Printed by Jan Mommaert, Brussels and Richard Field, London for] London, John Norton & Frankfurt, Levinius Hulsius, 1612.
A superb, large copy with a fascinating royal provenance of the first edition, third issue, of the first comprehensive treatise on perspective published in England, and among the earliest scientific works to employ paper flaps or pop-ups.
The text is in four parts. The first part lists geometric principles and definitions, including the fundamental law of perspective: The eye is the center of all things seen. The second part comprises 31 chapters and treats the following subjects in detail: the drawing of various objects in perspective, trompe l’oeil mural painting, anamorphosis, and the drawing of objects in oblique perspective. The third part, titled ‘Des Ombres’, examines shadows in perspective under varying intensities and directions of light. The fourth part, ‘Des Choses qui apparoissent aux Miroirs planes, & de la raison de Telles apparitions’.
De Caus’s work introduced to England a mathematical and artistic tradition that originated with Piero della Francesca, Leon Battista Alberti, Leonardo da Vinci, and Albrecht Dürer. Although the work is not groundbreaking in its treatment of optics or mathematical perspective, it provides a full and clear treatment of its subject, and figures. The work also includes multiple examples of anamorphosis, with folding paper flaps that prompt the reader to view the distorted image from a correcting angle. The engravings accompanying the work are amongst the finest and most sophisticated to be found in books bearing an English imprint from this period.
This copy was most likely a gift to Elizabeth Stuart from her former instructor, Salomon de Caus, who also designed her and her husband’s gardens at Heidelberg.
Bound in contemporary vellum with gilt edges, the work carries the combined arms of the house of Stuart and the Palatine Electorate on the covers.