600 works printed by Christophe Plantin

The Philippe de Dorlodot Collection, donated to the King Baudouin Foundation, has been entrusted to the Moretus Plaintin University Library in Namur. The collection consists of over 600 works printed in the 16th century by the famous Renaissance typographer Christophe Plantin.

Philippe de Dorlodot spent many years assembling the collection that today bears his name and which he has donated to the King Baudouin Foundation in memory of his father, Baron Charles de Dorlodot, who lectured in Roman law and encyclopaedia at Namur University’s Faculty of Law.

In order to ensure its optimal conservation as well as its scientific and cultural promotion, Philippe de Dorlodot wished his collection to be entrusted to the Moretus Plantin University Library of Namur (BUMP),which is known for its expertise in this field.

More than 600 pieces from the Dorlodot collection have thus joined the shelves of the library’s reserve. They share a common characteristic: all were printed by Christophe Plantin (1520-1589), the founder (in 1555) and director (until 1589) of what was, in its time, the greatest printing house in the world. With a few exceptions, all of the volumes in the Dorlodot collection came off the printing presses of the Officina Plantiniana during Plantin’s lifetime.

Some of the important pieces worthy of mention in the BUMP, are a 1557 edition of Amours by Pierre de Ronsard, one of the poets of the Pléiade, of which there are only 5 remaining copies known about in the world, and a 1564 edition by the poet Lucan, the binding of which is decorated with a golden compass and the motto Labore et Constantia. Only ten other bookbindings bearing the hallmark of the Plantin printing house have survived up to the present time. Another particularly precious piece is a signed, unpublished letter from Christophe Plantin to his son-in-law Jan Moretus, in which he gives his approval to the printing house being inherited by the next generation. And finally, numerous works containing magnificent illustrations, such as the Rariorum aliquot Stirpium (1583) by the doctor and botanist Charles de l’Écluse. This volume is notable for its 361 magnificent wood engravings illustrating the mountain flora of Austria and Hungary. This is the only coloured example know to date.

The entire collection entrusted to the BUMP will be catalogued so as to produce a detailed catalogue. Several works from the Dorlodot collection will also be on show as part of an exhibition about Christophe Plantin. Un homme de caractère(s) (A Man of Character(s)), organised by the BUMP for autumn 2021, will mark the 500th anniversary of the famous printer’s birth. The works exhibited will enable the general public to discover the exceptional career of this man of business and culture, who built his business based on an impressive network of book artisans, scholars and leading politicians at the heart of Europe in the 16th century.

Created in 1987 as part of the King Baudouin Foundation, the Heritage Fund acquires and is donated works of art, archives and important documents in order to conserve them and hand them down to future generations. The works in the Foundation’s collection are made accessible and promoted thanks to its partnerships with over sixty Belgian public collections as well as European institutions.