Author(s) Caus, Salomon de
Title Les raisons des forces mouvantes...
Imprint Paris, J. Drouart, 1624
Localisation Besançon, Bibliothèque municipale, 11717
Subject Gardens, Hydraulic engineering, Machines
Transcribed version of the text


     The reissue of the Raisons des forces mouvantes in 1624 comes within the scope of a campaign led by Salomon de Caus to ensure his fame and to spread it to new areas. A particular individual was targeted: Cardinal Richelieu.  That same year, 1624, Salomon de Caus drew a map of Italy for him, showing the Alps, Corsica and Sardinia, and dedicated La pratique et demonstration des horloges solaires published at the presses of Jerôme Drouart to him.
Perhaps the beginning of this dedication does refer to the map of Italy: "L’opinion qu’on pourrait avoir, que vous me portez plus d’affection que mes services n’en ont pu encore mériter, me donnent sujet de mettre souvent le compas & la règle en main, pour tâcher à m’acquitter du service que je vous dois...".  It ends with a request: "Je vous prie donc, Monseigneur, de recevoir ce petit œuvre, attendant qu’il vous plaise me commander choses plus grandes, où j’espère m’acquitter de mon devoir…".  We do not know why Salomon de Caus recognized being in debt to the cardinal.
Two Parisian printers, Jérôme Drouart and Charles Sevestre took charge of the new edition of the Raisons des forces mouvantes.  Several changes in the texts were carried out and the spelling was revised.  Nevertheless the printers did not take into account the list of errors indicated in 1615; they were simply satisfied to delete it.  The table of contents was drawn on in full, with its errors, and without taking into consideration the introduction of new problems (Book I, pb 36 and 37; Book II, pb 21 to 28).
As for the engravings, the fine frontispiece from 1615 was replaced by another, already used two times for La perspectiue (1611 and 1612) and for the Hortus Palatinus (1620).  On this frontispiece the initial title was modified by an addition: Les raisons des forces mouvantes, Avec diverses machines tant utiles que plaisantes: Ausquelles sont adjoints plusieurs desseins de Grotes & Fontaines. Augmentées de plusieurs figures, avec le discours sur chacune... This mention "Augmentées de plusieurs figures, avec le discours sur chacune" probably refers to the new plates.  However, as in the first edition, in this title no mention is made of the Livre troisiesme traitant de la fabrique des orgues which is part of the book.  All of this leads one to believe that in 1624, Salomon de Caus still intended to carry through a more ambitious project on this subject, as he had already indicated several times and indicates again at the end of the two editions of Book III.  "Je mettrai fin à ce troisième livre, espérant avec le temps d’en faire encore un, où seront montrées quelques machines que je tiens fort secrètes, & entre les autres, une qui représentera une musique plus parfaite qu’aucune humaine créature ne peut faire, soit avec les voix ou instruments manuels".
As for the plates in the body of the work, all the woodcuts of Book I were redone, and seven large plates of Book I were inverted and redone (pb 16, 17, 23, 24, 25, 29, 33 et 34) as well as one in Book II (pb 8) and five in Book III.  As in the previous edition, only two plates are signed: Book I, pb 3 ("P. Iselb. F.") and Book II, pb 3 ("J. V. Heÿden F."). Both are well known.  Peter Iselberg, an engraver from Nuremberg (1568-1630), engraved the celebrated book of emblems Emblemata politica (Nuremberg, 1617). Jacob Van Heyden (1573-1645) is particularly reputed for his copperplate portraits.  He engraved a portrait of Galileo which illustrates his Dialogus de systemate mundi (Leyde, 1635).
Ten new plates were introduced.  The first two, at the end of Book I are interesting because they both illustrate a question that Salomon de Caus held particularly dear to his heart: the use of heat, and here the use of the heat from the sun's rays to activate fountains.  Among the eight other plates of Book II, five plates were taken from du Hortus Palatinus (pb 24, pl. 30= H.P. pl. 30; pb 25, pl. n.p.= HP, pl. n.p.; pb 26, pl. 26= H.P. pl. 29; pb 27, pl. 27= H.P. pl. 11; pb. 28, pl. 28= H.P. pl. 8.) and three new unpaginated plates appear corresponding to problems 21, 22 and 23.
The texts accompanying the plates taken from the Hortus Palatinus inform us that Salomon de Caus wished to highlight his capacities as landscape architect in his Heidelberg projects.  One of the plates of an orangery encourages the introduction into France of this practice which was widespread in the princely German gardens.  Among the new plates, one is perhaps a precise answer to a problem that Richelieu had in his gardens at Limours.  He had purchased this domain in April of 1623 and made considerable improvements.  Salomon de Brosse and Salomon de Caus were employed there.  But in setting out the gardens, Caus came up against a major flaw of the place which was low, unhealthy and had no running water.  This corresponds exactly to the difficulty he preposes to resolve in his problem 21: "Dessin d’un cabinet qui se pourra faire au milieu d’un dedalus ou jardin, dans lequel sera une fontaine artificielle". "C’est", he writes, "une grande peine à ceux qui ont des jardins sans sources naturelles: c’est pourquoi on a eu recours à chercher les moyens d’élever les eaux avec pompes ou autres machines faciles, et faire des fontaines qui vont au jardin par le moyen de quelque réservoir. Or le défaut de ces fontaines est, que quand on jette la vue dessus et que l’eau n’y flue point, [elles] donnent autant de déplaisir comme elles donnent du contentement quand elles fluent". The solution consists of a small pavilion, with taps activated as one arrives, which would distribute five or six trickles of water coming from a reservoir hidden in an artificial rock in the middle of the pavilion.  It is not know whether this solution was tried, but shortly after Salomon de Caus' death in February 1626, his widow received 2,898 pounds for his last work at Limours, and the cardinal sold the property to Louis XIII.

Hélène Vérin (Centre national de la recherche scientifique, Paris) – 2009


Critical bibliography

C. Maks, Salomon de Caus 1576-1626, Paris, Jouve & Cie, 1935.

L. Morgan, Nature as Model. Salomon de Caus and Early Seventeeth-century Landscape Design, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007.

L. Châtelet-Lange, "Salomon de Caus, contestation d’un mythe", Bulletin de la Société de l’Histoire de l’Art français, 1988 (1989), pp. 25-32.