The first attempt in the Low Countries to publish an emblem book

Brontius, Nicolaus

Libellus de utilitate et harmonia artium, tum futuro iurisconsulto, tum liberalium disciplinarum politiorisue literaturæ studiosis utilissimus [Bound with:] Libellus compendiariam tum uirtutis adipiscendae tum literarum parandarum rationem perdoce[n]s, bene beateque uiuere cupienti, a primis utilis

Antwerp: S. Cocus, 1541


Octavo: Two works bound as one: 15.4 x 9.8 cm. I. A-C8, D4, E-I8; II. A-D8, E4, F-G8 (G8 blank and present.)


Bound in 18thc. mottled calf, wear to extremities, lower joint starting. Fine copies. v. light soiling to first t.p. and final leaf of second work, a few light stains in the second work, else very clean. Both works illustrated with emblematic and allegorical woodcuts, most created specifically for these books.

I."A very useful Book concerning the Utility and Harmony of the Arts, for future lawyers as well as for students of the liberal arts and literature" is the work of the Flemish lawyer and poet Nicolas le Bron, tutor to the young Charles de Croy, Prince of Chimay, to whom this work is addressed. The book covers the Latin, Greek and Hebrew languages; Dialectic; Rhetoric; Arithmetic, Geometry, Music and Astronomy; Anatomy, Natural History and Ethics. According to Funck, Le Livre Belge a gravure, p. 123, the woodcut illustrations were made especially for this work; they are described by Brunet as "assez singulières". Machiels 987

The illustrations, all of which are accompanied by verses, include a frontispiece of a couple gathering acorns, three bee hives (representing the Latin, Greek, and Hebrew languages), a professor pulling a boy out of a maze (dialectic), a woman with two swords (rhetoric), a scene with a musician, astronomer, merchant, and a man using a quadrant (for arithmetic, and repeated for geometry, music, and astronomy), a "Zodiac man", showing which organs and body parts are governed by which sign in the Zodiac, a shepherd among animals (including an elephant) in a landscape (natural philosophy), and a scene with female personifications of Temperance, Modesty, Justice, Prudence, and Fortitude (ethics). 

II.The second of le Bron's works is pedagogical in nature (Buisson, Répertoire des ouvrages pédagogiques du XVIe Siècle, p. 89). It teaches one how to "make good choices" by adhering to 26 precepts. Each precept is represented by a woodcut ("Ornés de fig. en bois assez singulières qui les font encore rechercher" -Brunet)and verses. Several of the woodcuts in this work are Biblical in nature and are almost certainly derived from earlier works. However, the majority appear to be by the same artist who illustrated the "Libellus de utilitate et harmonia atrium". Among the most successful of these are an image of Ignorance and Stupidity, represented by two women in fine attire; allegories of Lust, Desire, and Anger; and a scene in a brothel. The volume concludes with a poem by on student's rights.

Cockx-Indestege, E. Belgica typographica, 422 and 423; Funck p. 123 and 286; Machiels B-976/975; BM STC Dutch and Flemish, 1470-1600, p. 42; Adams B2899 and B2900; Not in Landwehr, who begins with emblemata published from 1542 onwards.