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Blasons et Contreblasons

Gordon 1543.B53

(Click on the call number to view the digital facsimile of the book.)

Sensuiuent les blasons anatomiques du corps femenin,: ensemble les contreblasons de nouueau composez, & additionez, auec les figures, le tout mis par ordre:/ composez par plusieurs poetes contemporains. Auec la table desdictz blasons & contreblasons imprimez en ceste annee.

[Paris]: Pour Charles Langelier, 1543

Description: 86, [2] leaves: ill.; 12 cm. (16mo)
Binder: Chambolle-Duru

About This Edition

A first edition of the works of Clément Marot’s blason competition was published in 1536, appended to another work of emblematic poetry, and was subsequently augmented and reedited several times. The first collection bearing the title of Blasons was published in 1543 for Charles L'Angelier. In The Sixteenth-Century Blason Poetique (Bern: Peter Lang, 1981), Alison Saunders identifies this copy of the Blasons in the Douglas Gordon Collection (then still his private collection) as one of only two known copies of this important edition:

"Of the various editions of these poems, it is that produced in 1543 for Charles L'Angelier which surpasses all the others in the number of poems it contains, the accuracy of its text and the sophistication of its printing. Unfortunately it is also this edition which is the least accessible of all, since the only two known copies are both housed in private collections." —Saunders, p. 325

The Blason Vogue

Because of his suspected role in the 1534 “Affaire des Placards,” Clément Marot fled to the protestant sympathizing court of Ferrara, where he launched a new literary fashion with his "Blason du Tetin", also called the "Beau Tetin" (“The Beautiful Breast”).

Building on the success of his first blason, Marot organized a poetic contest for blasons of the female body. Maurice Scève won the competition with his description of what neoplatonists deemed one of the noblest and most elevated in the hierarchy of body parts, "Le Sourcil," the eyebrow.

Following the first series of blasons praising the beauty of various parts of the female anatomy (often in a Platonic mode, but sometimes in a more licentious tone), Marot and the other poets turned their focus to composing contreblasons, mocking less admirable and ugly parts of the female body. Marot's own "Contreblason du Tetin", also called the "Laid Tetin" ("The Ugly Breast"), launched the contreblason fad. All of the contreblason poems in this edition, apart from Marot’s, were written by Charles de la Hueterie and dedicated to François Sagon.

The most well-known of the blasonneurs today are Clément Marot and Maurice Scève, but many other contemporary poets contributed to the volume, including Béranger de la Tour and Jean de Vauzelles.

Internet Resources

A pdf of the 1554 edition of the Blasons/contreblasons (A Paris: De la bouticque de Nicolas Chrestien..., 1554) is available on the Gallica server of the Bibliothèque nationale de France:

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