Plutarchus (ca. 45-120).
La prima [- seconda] parte delle Vite... nuouamente da M. Lodouico Domenichi tradotte. Con due tauole, le quali sono poste nel fine della seconda parte.... Venice, Gabriele Giolito de' Ferrari and Brothers, 1555.
Two volumes, 4° (256x168 mm). I. Collation: *4, A-Z8, AA-ZZ8, AAA-PPP8. , 973,  pages. Roman and italic type. Woodcut printer's device on the recto of fol. PPP8. II. Two parts. Collation: †4, a-z8, aa-kk8, ll4; aaa-fff8, ggg4. , 535, ;  pages. Roman and italic type. Woodcut printer's device on both title-pages, and a smaller version at the end of each part. Woodcut animated initials, and headpieces.
Handsome Venetian bindings, executed around 1555 by Anthon Lodewijk. Gilt-tooled red morocco, over pasteboards. Gilt and blind fillet borders. Central medallion with radiating tongues-of-flame within lobed panel, the two volumes slightly differently tooled with solid outline and azure tools. The central medallion of the first volume overstamped with forged Apollo and Pegasus plaquette. Spines with five double raised bands, decorated with one, and outlined with two gilt fillets. Compartments gilt, open circle border at the head and foot of the spines. Edges of the boards decorated with a double vertical line in blind. Edges gilt and gauffered with double dotted-line frame. Missing four ties, probably in red silk. Vol. 1 with minor repairs to the corners, rebacked preserving most of the original backstrip, some gilding renewed. Skilful repairs to the corners and joint of vol. 2, a little worming in flyleaves. In modern cloth solander cases, in brown for vol. 1 (on the spine 'PLUTARCHIS VENEZIA 1555 CANEVARI'), and in green for vol. 2 ('PLUTARCHA [SIC] LA SECONDA PARTE DELLE VITE, VENETIAN BINDING VENICE 1555'). A fine copy, some spotting. Minor ink stain in the first volume, a few leaves uniformly browned. On the recto of the front flyleaf of the first volume, the inked note 'Reliure Canevari Iere moitié du XVime S. Genes'.
Provenance: Pietro Benincasa (ownership inscription on the title-pages 'Pietro Benincasa', partly removed from the first volume); Curtio Bertini, from Colle val d'Elsa (sixteenth-century ownership inscriptions on the title-pages, 'Di Curtio Bertini' and 'Di Curtio Bertini da Colle' partly removed from the first volume). By the early twentieth century the two volumes became separated:
Vol. 1: the bookseller in Florence Tammaro De Marinis (1878-1969), 1911; early twentieth-century ex-libris engraved by Stern on the front pastedown, eradicated; Cartier library (sale Sotheby's Monaco, 28 November 1979, lot 1366); GDV (monogram blindstamp on the title-page); Rossignol (sale Paris, Valleriaux expert, 27 February 2003, lot 557); Michel Wittock (see The Michel Wittock Collection. Part I: Important Renaissance Bookbindings, Christie's London 2004, no. 97).
Vol. 2: Baron de Sant'Anna (sale Brussels 16 May 1925, lot 105); Michel Wittock (ex-libris on the front pastedown; see The Michel Wittock Collection. Part i: Important Renaissance Bookbindings, Christie's London 2004, no. 97).
A remarkable copy, in its original Venetian binding, of the first edition of Domenichi's Italian translation of the Vitae by the Greek historian Plutarch. The two volumes have only recently been reunited after a century's separation; they were bound around 1555 by the famous Flemish craftsman Anthon Lodewijk or Lowies, who was active in Venice between 1553 and 1557.
Anthon Lodewijk “seems to have arrived in Venice not later than 1553. In his mature work he imitated the style of the 'Mendoza Binder' or the 'Fugger Binder', but using his own kit of Italian tools. These are found in presentation copies of books printed by Giolito in 1554, 1556 and 1557, for his distinguished clientele, which included among others Jakob Fugger and Antoine Perrenot de Granvelle. Lodewijk probably left Venice soon afterwards and is next found in Augsburg binding Greek manuscripts and printed books for Johann Jakob Fugger and decorating them with the Italian tools brought from Venice” (Hobson-Culot, Italian and French 16th-Century Bookbindings, p. 43).
These volumes demonstrate his more mature, elaborate Venetian style; in all likelihood the bindings were executed on behalf of the printer Giolito for a notable recipient. For a similar binding see for example the copy of the Giolito edition of Musso's Prediche (1554) presented by the Venetian printer to the Duchess of Urbino, Vittoria Farnese della Rovere (see Hobson, Renaissace Book Collecting, p. 131, pl. 80).
By the early twentieth century the two volumes had become separated, and the first one now offers a striking example of a perfectly genuine Renaissance binding to which a forged medallion had been added. In fact, on its cover a forged Apollo and Pegasus round plaquette was carefully applied, possibly before 1911, when it appeared in a catalogue published by the Libreria De Marinis in Florence. The volume was later seen in Sotheby's sale of the Cartier library in Monaco on 28 November 1979. The Apollo and Pegasus medallion may have been made either in the nineteenth century by the best known Apollo and Pegasus forger, the Milanese binder Vittorio Villa (d. 1892), who often worked for Guglielmo Libri; or later, in the first quarter of the twentieth century by Domenico Conti-Borbone, another bookbinder active in Milan who had inherited Villa's tools after his death. These skilful forgeries were sought by some collectors as specimens of fine Renaissance bindings or desirable curiosities.
STC Italian 528 (vol. 1 only); Bongi Annali, pp. 479-480 (“É difficile trovare uniti i due volumi”); H. Harrisse, “Les falsification bolognaises. Reliures et livres”, Bulletin du Bibliophile, (1902), pp. 428-442, 445-666, 505-523; (1903), pp. 449-452; De Marinis, Legatura artistica in Italia, I, no. 3146, pl. 4 (vol. 1); M. Wittock, “À propos de reliures, vraies ou frelatées, au médallion d'Apollon et Pégase”, Bulletin du Bibliophile, (1998), pp. 330-336 (no. 33, only vol. 1); M. Wittock, “Il medaglione di Apollo e Pegaso”, L'oggetto libro 2000, no. 37 (only vol. 2); A. Hobson, Renaissance Book Collecting, App. 9, nos. 9a-b; Hobson-Culot, Italian and French 16th-Century Bookbindings, no. 15 (only vol. 2); Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 118.