Poetry & Patronage The Laubespine-Villeroy Library Rediscovered
The French courtier Claude III de Laubespine (1545–1570) commissioned fine bindings for a magnificent library, which was dispersed during the seventeenth century. Isabelle de Conihout and Pascal Ract-Madoux have retraced the library’s history and identified its contents in a tour de force of bibliographical scholarship and provenance research. The Morgan Library & Museum will display twelve of these bindings in an exhibition (16 October 2020−16 May 2021) accompanied by this catalogue. The first account of Laubespine in English, the only one with a full complement of color illustrations, it describes the bindings and recounts the political career of the collector, who was a secretary of state under King Charles IX. Other members of the family ranked high in the royal entourage and earned the esteem of court poets such as Pierre de Ronsard and Philippe Desportes. In return for patronage, Ronsard and Desportes wrote verse tributes to Claude III, his sister, his father, and his brother-in-law, Nicolas de Villeroy. These poems attest to the family’s prominence and contain valuable clues to the fate of its library. Poetry & Patronage is an essential resource for studying the accomplishments of a recently discovered collector who can be compared to Jean Grolier and Thomas Mahieu in his social standing, political career, and predilection for luxury bindings on important books.
Designed by Jerry Kelly, bound in gilt-stamped cloth, printed in an edition of 500 copies.