The author, and the recipient of the book in the poet Molza’s villas; An association copy printed on blue paper

Caro, Annibal (1507-1566).

Apologia de gli Academici di Banchi di Roma, contra M. Lodouico Casteluetro da Modena. In forma d’uno Spaccio di Maestro Pasquino. Con alcune Operette del Predella, del Buratto, di Ser Fedocco.... Parma, Seth Viotti, November 1558.

Caro, Annibal (1507-1566) Apologia de gli Academici di Banchi di Roma, contra M. Lodouico Casteluetro da Modena. In forma d’uno Spaccio di Maestro Pasquino. Con alcune Operette del Predella, del Buratto, di Ser Fedocco.... Seth Viotti, November 1558.

4° (210x150 mm). Printed on blue paper. Collation: A-Z4, a-i4, k6, l-m4. 268, [16] pages. Roman and italic type. Engraved printer's device on the title-page and woodcut device on verso of fol. m4. Woodcut animated initials. Eighteenth-century quarter-leather, marbled covers. Smooth spine with gilt title on lettering-piece, compartments framed in gilt tools. A very good copy, some minor browning.

Provenance: given as a gift by Annibal Caro to his friend, the writer Marco Antonio Piccolomini (1504-1579; ownership inscription on the title-page: 'Di M. Anto piccolomini & degli Amici MDLVIII Dono dell'Autore'); on the verso of the front flyleaf is a sonnet by Giacomo Marmitta, unpublished at the time and written in Piccolomini's own hand, dedicated to 'Comendador Caro'; marginalia by Piccolomini on fols. F4v and k6v.

Remarkable association copy, printed on blue paper, of this testimony to one of the greatest literary quarrels of the Renaissance; the work is presented here in its variant 'c' form, as evinced by the finely engraved printer's device, instead of the more common woodcut one, on the title-page, and by the text reading “LA nobil Secchia harà per numer un drago?” that appears on the recto of fol. i1 (p. 241).

The dispute centered on the poem Venite all'ombra de' gran Gigli d'oro ('Come to the shade of the great golden lilies'), which had been commissioned by Alessandro Farnese and which Caro had composed in praise of the French monarchy. The poem was harshly criticized by the philologian Ludovico Castelvetro (1505-1571) due to its lack of Petrarchian style and use of linguistic inventions, especially in its incorporation of spoken language. Caro replied to Castelvetro's criticism with his Apologia, which ends with a Corona of nine injurious sonnets through which Caro comes to accuse Castelvetro of having murdered Alberico Longo, Caro's advocate in this impassioned quarrel.

The present copy was given as a gift by Caro to his friend Marco Antonio Piccolomini, member of one of the most distinguished Sienese families and co-founder – his academic nickname was 'Sodo' – of the celebrated Accademia degli Intronati, a pivotal institution in the cultural life of 1550s Siena, and one of the most ancient academies in the world. The correspondence attests to the close friendship between Caro and Piccolomini, as well as Piccolomini's attempt to incite contemporary scholars like Girolamo Ruscelli to support Caro against Castelvetro. It is thus particularly noteworthy that Piccolomini has transcribed a sonnet pertaining to the quarrel on the flyleaf of the present copy. The poem, 'Lingua d'atro venen' tutta conspersa', was composed by the poet Giacomo Marmitta (1504-1561; see no. 134) and was unpublished at the time; it would only be printed some years later, in 1569, when it was included to accompany Caro's response in his collected Rime, issued by the Aldine press.

The marginal note written by Piccolomini on fol. F4v is also interesting as it provides a previously unknown element in our reconstruction of this contemporary intellectual milieu: Piccolomini marks a passage concerning two inscriptions located in the villas of the Modenese poet Francesco Maria Molza (1489-1544), Caro's friend and the uniquely non-Sienese member of the Accademia degli Intronati. Piccolomini attributes both inscriptions – 'Ancor essa è modo di parlar plebeo', and ‘perchè l'uso della lingua nobile, non riceve esso col sostantivo manifesto, se non davanti' – to Ludovico Molza, Francesco Maria's father.

Only one other copy printed on blue paper is known, held by the Biblioteca Palatina in Parma.

Adams C-739; Gamba 276; C. Di Felice, “La seconda edizione dell'Apologia di Annibal Caro: un censimento delle sopravvivenze e un esemplare in Normandia”, S. Fabrizio-Costa (ed.), Autour du livre ancien en Normandie. Intorno al libro antico in Normandia, Bern 2011, pp. 165-194; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 124.

$ 24.000
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