Just weeks after a book from the library of Constantijn Huygens was found in the library of Leufsta, another copy turns up in Sweden. This time in the collection of the Stifts- och landsbiblioteket i Skara, thanks to my colleague Helena Backman who catalogued the book some years ago.
As explained in the blog post concerning the copy in Leufsta, books from the library of Constantijn Huygens can be recognized by the handwritten motto Constanter on the title-page. The copy that has been identified now is Discours merveilleux de la vie, actions & déportemens de Catherine de Medicis in an edition from 1649. It is part of the collection of the Stifts- och landsbiblioteket i Skara.
The book is an anonymous biography on Catherine de Medici (1519-1589), queen of France from 1547 until 1559, which fits right into Huygens’ interest with royalty. The first edition was published anonymously in 1574, but the work is attributed to Henri Estienne, Theodorus Beza, Jean de Serres and Pierre Pithou. Unlike the Constanter in Leufsta, this copy has some additional annotations by Huygens on the title-page, indicating that he acquired the copy in Paris in September 1662.
The title can be identified in the auction catalogue of 1688 in the section Libri miscellanei in duodecimo as number 82. How this copy ended up in Sweden is not clear, but it has been there at least since the mid-18th century. The name Ekeblad and the wax seal on the title-page both refer to Claes Julius Ekeblad (1742-1808). The fly-leaf holds an additional provenance, of Skara librarian Pehr Luth (1744-1836). There is, in other words, a gap of some three quarters of century between the auction of Huygens’ library and the accession in the collection of Ekeblad. The book might of course have been in the family for generations.
The great grandfather of Claes Julius – Johan Ekeblad (1629-1697) was hovjunker at the court of Queen Christina, studied at universities across Europe and was known as a well-educated man. He seems like a plausible candidate to have obtained to book somewhere near the end of his life, but this is of course speculation. For all that matters, the book might just as easily have been acquired by one of the later family members as war booty in the Nordic War.
Ad Leerintveld, ”Magnificent paper’: the library of Constantijn Huygens’, in: Quaerendo, vol 28:3 (1998), pp. 165-184.
Ad Leerintveld, ”Ex libris: ‘Constanter’. Boeken uit de bibiotheek van Constantijn Huygens’, in: Jaarboek voor Nederlandse boekgeschiedenis, 16 (2009), pp. 151-176.
Ad Davidse, Catalogue 1688 and Catalogue 1695
Kees Verduin, Constanter: books from the library of Constantijn Huygens (1596-1687)