Artist and engineer Joseph Boillot (1546-c.1603) was part of the military adminstration in France at Langres under Henri IV. First published in 1592, Pourtraitz et Figures de Termes Pour User en Architecture draws influence from such classics as Pliny's Natural History in displaying animals pairs with natural antipathy adjacent to one another on the book's open pages. There are said to be allegorical as well as architectural motifs represented.
He engraved these baroque ornamental plinths from wood or copper and there are 55 illustrations accompanying his text. All engravings from this very rare and amazing book are online at NYPL (thumbnail page). I get the feeling that not all of the images are from the same edition - and indeed, I have 'sharpened' a couple of the images above (that's the only adjustment I ever make to images and I've done it to maybe 3 other -- usually faded engravings -- illustrations previously) to make them a touch clearer. A later German edition is said to be far superior.
The fantasy column illustrations were meant: "to provide models for artists, sculptors, carpenters, glass painters, goldsmiths, cabinet-makers, craftsmen, and "lovers of art". This strange and lovely book can also be viewed as a bestiary of sorts. The illustrations provide fascinating archetypes from the world of real and imaginary beasts via images of bears, red deer, lions, leopards, wild boars, wolves, camels, unicorns, horses, bulls, elephants, rhinos, rams, dall sheep, hunting dogs, porcupines, monkeys, donkeys, goats, tigers, antelopes, etc., which are incorporated into busts, statues and plinths."
- UPDATE Dec. 2013: this Architectura article from 2004 by Yves Pauwels provides good (bilingual) commentary on our Boillot's opus of structural zoomorphia.
- This Sims Reed site shows how the illustrations appeared on the book pages.
- August Laube have a decent review of the work - the most authoritative I could find.
- This is a translated cached page, ostensibly dealing with Bulliot's other major publication on weaponry. I am very surprised that there is so little online about Bulliot and his Pourtraitz.