2 HAEFTEN, B. A devotional emblem book / Virtual Book Fair 106


Description: First edition of a devotional emblem book with an engraved title-page drawn by Rubens, splendidly bound for the Abbot of Kremsmünster Abbey

HAEFTEN, Benedictus van.
Regia via crucis.

First edition (first issue), the only edition in the original Latin, of a lovely devotional emblem book with an engraved title-page and 38 engraved emblems, all on the theme of the holy cross, all engraved by Cornelis Galle the elder (1576-1650), at least the title-page after a drawing by Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1648). None of the engravings is signed, but work on them is documented in archives at the Plantin-Moretus Museum in Antwerp.
Benedict van Haeften (1588-1648) was born at Utrecht and studied philosophy and theology at Louvain. He entered the Benedictine Abbey at Affligem (about 25 kilometers west of Brussels) in 1609 where he was appointed abbot in 1616. It was there that he wrote the present book. The text is divided into three "libri", but they follow one another with no bibliographical separation. The book includes extensive preliminaries and indexes of places and subjects. It was translated into French (1656), Dutch (1667), Italian (1684) and Spanish (1721), and the present Latin edition was reissued with a new title-page in 1728.
The history of the present copy is unusually interesting and well documented. The first documented owner was Jakob Adalbert Schrenk or Schrenkh (1634-1674) best known as a composer of church music. He owned the book when still a novice at Kremsmünster Abbey in Austria, about 30 km south of Linz and close to his native Gmunden. The 1650 inscription on the title-page shows that when he was 15 or 16 he gave it to Gotthard Freyd, then also at Kremsmünster, who is later recorded as a Benedictine priest who wrote a 1664 miracle book. Schrenkh may have gotten his book back: he completed his studies at Salzburg, becoming a priest in 1658, and returned to Kremsmünster, serving as choir director 1660-1667. The book found its way to the Abbot at Kremsmünster, Placidus Buechauer (1611-1669), who had it splendidly bound before his 1669 death. We have found little information about the central arms (a tree trunk or thick branch quartered with a figure carrying a staff), crowned with the Abbot's mitre (with a small medallion next to the mitre), but above the door of the Kremsmünstererhuas in Linz one can still see, carved in stone in 1710, the three accompanying arms with the boar (the arms of Kremsmünster itself), talbot and bull, crowned with the mitre (

With water stains at the head of one quire and the half-title speckled with ink(?), but generally in very good condition. The binding shows a few small wormholes, minor cracks or small abrasions and lacks the ties, but is still very good, with the tooling well preserved.
BCNI 8834; Funck p. 328; Landwehr, Emblem Books Low Countries 271; Praz, p. 361; STCV 6843143.
  • Number: 1060474 (F3RG74YNZ8OA)
  • Dealer: Speculum Orbis Nauticum