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Description De La Grotte De Versailles.

RA Collection: Book

Record number



A Paris,: De L'Imprimerie Royale., M. DC. LXXIX.

Physical Description

[2], 11, [1] p., 20 pl. [pl. [3, 8-13, 16] are unnumbered; pl. 2, 7, [16] are dble.]; 500 mm. (Broadsheet).


[T.p.] - [Text] - [Colophon] - [Plates].

Responsibility Note

The text is signed by Felibien.

All plates are signed by engravers - most by le Potre (i.e. Jean Le Pautre), others by 'D.B.', F. Chauveau, Jean Edelinck, Stephanus Picart or Stephanus Baudet. Three carry names of draughtsmen also: P. Monier, H. Watele. Plate [16] has additionally the name 'Goylon' engraved on it.

The three in-text decorations (title-page vignette, headpiece and initial) are unsigned.

The printer is named in the colophon: 'A Paris, de l'Imprimerie Royale, Par Sebastien Mabre-Cramoisy, Directeur de ladite Imprimerie. M. DC. LXXIX.'


S. Taylor-Leduc, 'A new treatise on seventeenth-century garden history: André Félibien's "Description de la Grotte à Versailles"', in Studies in the history of gardens and designed landscapes, 18:1 (1998 Spring), p.35-51; RIBA, Early printed, 1 (1994), 515; National Gallery (Washington), Mark J. Millard, I (1993), no. 69, p.180-2.

Summary Note

The title page carries the publication-date of 1679. The first illustrated edition of the work had been published in 1676; and sixteen plates in the present edition retain their earlier dates of 1672, 1673, 1675 or 1676. (Earlier, unillustrated editions had been published in 1672 and 1674.)

The plates are captioned in French and Latin. They show: (pl.1) plan; (pl. 2) elevation; (pl. 3-20) details of sculpture. The sculptures are of sea-nymphs, tritons and the sun-god descending among them - a probable allusion to king Louis XIV, who liked to present himself as a 'Sun-king'.

The name of the architect of the grotto is not certainly known; but Charles Perrault claimed to have designed it. The names of the sculptors are given on some of the plates: Girard van Opstal, François Girardon, Thomas Regnaudin, Gaspar et Balthazar de Marcy, Gilles Guerin and Baptiste Tubi. After the destruction of the grotto some of the sculpture was reused elsewhere at Versailles.


Recorded in RAA Library, Catalogue, 1802.

Binding Note

19th-century half calf, brown cloth-covered boards; black morocco spine-label, lettered, 'Grotte De Versailles R.A. 1679'.

Name as Subject


Grotto of Thetis (Versailles) - Grottoes - Garden structures - Sculpture, French - Statues - Architecture, French - France - Versailles - History - 17th century - Baroque
Rulers - Monarchs - Publicizing - Public relations - France 17th century
Pictorial works - France - 17th century


André Félibien sieur des Avaux et de Javercy
Gerard van Opstal, source artist
Francois Girardon, source artist
Thomas Regnaudin, source artist
Gaspard Marsy, source artist
Balthazard Marsy, source artist
Gilles Guerin, source artist
Jean Baptiste Tuby, source artist
Jean Lepautre, engraver
François Chauveau, engraver
Pierre Mosnier, draughtsman
Jean Edelinck, engraver
Etienne Picart, engraver
Étienne Baudet, engraver
Henri Watele, draughtsman
Sebastien Mabre-Cramoisy, printer
France - Imprimerie Nationale, printer