Tableau de l’amour conjugal, ou l’Histoire complète de la génération de l’homme, Nicolas Venette (Claude Joly, Cologne 1712)
3.75″x6″, 22+384pp +4, full calf, 5 raised bands, gilt titles and decorations on spine, front boards loose, good condition for age. Illustrated throughout.
Nicolas Venette (1633–1698) was a physician, sexologist and French writer. Born in La Rochelle, he studied medicine at Bordeaux where he received his doctorate in 1656. He then went to Paris where he studied under Guy Patin and Pierre Petit, before travelling to Spain, Portugal and Italy. He then returned to La Rochelle, where he became Regius Professor of Anatomy and Surgery in 1668.
First published in Amsterdam in 1686 as Tableau de l’amour humain considéré dans l’état du mariage (Table of human love considered in the state of marriage) under the pseudonym Salocini Venetian (anagram of Nicolas Venette), this book, more properly titled Table of conjugal love, or the complete history of the generation of man, is considered to be the first treatise on sexology in West. It proved to be a bestseller and was translated into English, Spanish, German and Dutch. There were 33 editions published sporadically until 1903. This is a rare earlier version, published in 1712.
The author discusses four sub-topics with respect to sex: anatomy, reproduction, desire, and impotence/infertility. For each topic, he reviews ancient and medieval authors, adding his own observations or those of later authors, and comments where common sense prevails. The resulting composition has an ambiguous mixture of seriousness and light-heartedness bordering upon erotic literature.