Les Métamorphoses D'Ovide, En Latin Et En François, De la traduction de M. l'Abbé Banier, de l'Académie Royale des Inscriptions & Belles-Lettres; Avec Des Explications Historiques. Tome Premier. (- Quatrième.)


RA Collection: Book

Record number



Uniform Title

[Metamorphoses., Latin and French., 1767-1771.]


A Paris,: Chez Guillyn, Quai des Augustins, au Lys d'or., M.DCC.LXVII [-MDCCLXXI]. Avec Approbation Et Privilège Du Roi.

Physical Description

4 vols.: illus.; 259 mm. (Quarto).

General Note

Vol. I: [2]p., 2 ff. engr. dedic., xc, [2], 264 p., 48 pl. (inc. add. engr. t.-pl.). - Vol. II: [iii]-viii, 355, [1]p., [32] pl. - Vol. III: [iii]-viii, 360 p., [36] pl. In this volume pl. 97-99 are bound between pl. 94 and 95. - Vol. IV: [iii]-viii, 8, 367, [1] p., [22] pl. In this volume pl. 135 is misnumbered 134, and pl. 138 is misnumbered 137 and inserted after no. 139. All four volumes appear to lack an initial leaf.

The catalogue of the National Art Library records a different number of plates in each volume.


Vol. I: [T.p., add. engr. t.pl., engr. dedic.] - Préface - [Frontis.] - La Vie D'Ovide ... Par M. G*** - Chronique Des Marbres De Paros, Nommés Communément marbres D'Arundel Ou D'Oxford, En Latin Et En François - Table Des Fables Des Trois Premiers Livres Des Métamorphoses D'Ovide - Approbation; Privilege Du Roi; [colophon] - [Text of books I-III in Latin and French, with Explications and pl.] - Vol. II: [T.p.] - Table Des Fables Des Livres IV. V. VI. & VII. Des Métamorphoses D'Ovide - [Text in Latin and French of books IV-VII, with Explications and pl.]. - Vol. III: [T.p.] - Table Des Fables Des Livres VIII. IX. X. & XI. Des Métamorphoses D'Ovide - [Text in Latin and French of books VIII-XI, with Explications and pl.]. - Vol. IV: [T.p.] - Table Des Fables Des Livres XII. XIII. XIV. & XV. Des Métamorphoses D'Ovide - Explication Des Vignettes Et Fleurons Des Métamorphoses D'Ovide - Avis Au Relieur - [Text in Latin and French of books XII-XV, with Explications and pl.] - Table Des Matieres Contenues Dans Les Quatre Volumes in-4o. Des Métamorphoses D'Ovide.

Responsibility Note

The Life of Ovid is by C. P. Goujet.

All plates are signed. The most celebrated of the illustrators was the painter Boucher (whose Molière of 1734 had established his mastery in this genre); he contributes ten designs. Other veterans were Charles Eisen (58 plates) and H. Gravelot (6). Of the younger men Charles Monnet contributed 35 plates and Jean-Michel Moreau 26; single plates were designed by Le Prince, Parizeau and St. Gois. The engravers show a similar mixture of established and younger artists: Noel Le Mire himself engraved 25 plates and Basan 3, and others were made by Le Veau (16), J. Massard (16), D. Nee, N. DeLaunay, Baquoy, L. Binet, J.B. Simonet, N. Ponce, De Ghent, Duclos and Helman.

The publication is further adorned with a full-page cul-de-lampe and 34 vignettes by Pierre-Philippe Choffard - which are accorded their own 'Explication' in Volume IV.

The team of publishers comprised Barrois, Leclerc, Guillyn, Hochereau, Pissot, Pault (jeune), De Lormel, Prault (fils aîné), Despilly and Panckoucke.

The publication is dedicated by Basan and Le Mire to the Duc de Chartres (afterwards Duc D'Orléans).


The context of this publication is investigated in A. Griffiths, Prints for books: book illustration in France 1760-1800 (2004); O.E. Holloway, French rococo book illustration (1969).

On Ovid in European art see: M. Thimann, Lügenhafte Bilder: Ovids Favole und das Historienbild in der italienischen Renaissance (2002); G. Papponetti, Immagini di Ovidio (1999); Die Rezeption der Metamorphosen des Ovid, ed. H. Walter (1995); Ovidius herschapen [exhibition catalogue] ('s-Gravenhage, 1980); H. Bartholomé, Ovid und die antike Kunst (1935); P.G. Schönfeld, Ovids Metamorphosen in ihrem Verhältnis zur antiken Kunst (1877). A survey of Greek mythology in art is: J.D. Reid, The Oxford guide to classical mythology in the arts, 1300-1990s, 2 v. (1993).

Summary Note

Ovid's lively and witty poem on the transformations of the Greek and Roman gods has attracted many artists. The present edition demonstrates how the team-work of illustrators helped make the third quarter of the eighteenth century one of the most productive periods of book-illustration in Europe. To accompany the text and translation the team of publishers - acting 'par les soins des Srs Le Mire et Basan' - commissioned 140 plates, a cul-de-lampe and 34 vignettes from a team of draughtsmen and engravers of overlapping generations. Evidence of the pressure under which they worked may be gathered from their frequent recourse to earlier models. Boucher copied his own paintings, Monnet copied Boucher, and Eisen copied Rubens's oil sketches. Monnet, Moreau, Gravelot and above all Eisen drew heavily on editions of the Metamorphoses issued at Amsterdam in 1732, Paris in 1676 and perhaps Lyons in 1557. The handsome result forms a compendium of an illustrative tradition.


Purchased by 1780. Recorded in Catalogue Of The Library In The Royal Academy, London (1802).

Copy Note

Imperfect; wanting plate 118 of Volume III.

Binding Note

18th-century mottled calf, with royal arms of Britain and 'R.A.' gilt-stamped on upper cover; rebacked in 1996, with red and black morocco spine labels lettered 'Les Metamorp(h). D'Ovide Tom I(-IV)'.


Mythology, Roman - Mythology, Greek - Transformation - Iconography
Fables, Latin - Fables, Greek
Latin poetry - 1st century
Translations from Latin - Translations into French - France - 18th century
Illustrated books, French - Pictorial works - France - 18th century
Armorial bindings - Great Britain - 18th century


Jean-Michel Moreau, 1741-1814, illustrator
François Boucher, 1703-1770, illustrator
Pierre François Basan, 1723-1797, publisher
Noel Le Mire, 1724-1800, publisher
Pierre Guillyn, publisher
Antoine Banier Abbé, 1673-1741, translator
Claude-Pierre Goujet, 1697-1767, Vie d'Ovide
Louis-Philippe-Joseph, duc d' Orléans, dedicatee
Charles Joseph Dominique Eisen, 1720-1778, illustrator
Charles Monnet, 1732-1808, illustrator
Barthélemy-François Hochereau, publisher
Charles Joseph Panckoucke, 1736-1798, publisher
Pierre-Philippe Choffard, 1730-1809, draughtsman, engraver
Noel Le Mire, 1724-1800, engraver
Jean-Baptiste Le Prince, 1734-1781, illustrator
Philippe Louis Parizeau, 1740-1801, illustrator
St. Gois, , illustrator
Jean Jacques Le Veau, 1729-1785, engraver
Jean Massard, , engraver
François Denis Née, 1732-1817, engraver
Nicolas Delaunay, 1739-1792, engraver
Jean Charles Baquoy, 1721-1777, engraver
Louis Binet, 1744-ca. 1800, engraver
Jean Baptiste Blaise Simonet, 1742-1813, engraver
Nicolas Ponce, 1746-1831, engraver
Louis-Claude Legrand, 1723-1807, engraver
Jean Francois Rousseau, ca. 1740-, engraver
Louis Joseph Masquelier, 1741-1811, engraver
Simon Charles Miger, 1736-1820, engraver
Jacques Le Roy, 1739-, engraver
Antoine-Jean Duclos, 1742-1795, engraver
Isidore-Stanislau-Henri Helman, 1743-ca. 1806, engraver
Augustin de Saint-Aubin, 1736-1807, engraver
Noël-Jacques Pissot, publisher
Pierre Nicolas Delormel, publisher
Jean-Baptiste Despilly, publisher