The Statutes of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, bound by Soresini for the Grand Master

Sovereign Military Order of Malta.

Gli Statuti della Sacra Religione di S. Gio: Gierosolomitano. Tradotti di Latino in Volgare di Iacomo Bosio Agente della medesima Religione nella Corte di Roma. Aggiuntiui li Priuilegij dell’istessa Religione.... Rome, Giacomo Tornieri and Giacomo Ruffinello, 1589.

Sovereign Military Order of Malta Gli Statuti della Sacra Religione di S. Gio: Gierosolomitano. Tradotti di Latino in Volgare di Iacomo Bosio Agente della medesima Religione nella Corte di Roma. Aggiuntiui li Priuilegij dell’istessa Religione.... Giacomo Tornieri and Giacomo Ruffinello, 1589.

Two parts in one volume, 4° (247x170 mm). Collation: *6, **4, A-Z4, Aa-Nn4, a-g4, h6; A-P4. [20], 280, [76]; 92 of 96 (lacking the leaves M3 and M4, also not present in the other recorded copies), [24] pages. Complete with fols. Nn4 and h6 blanks. Roman and italic type. Separate title-pages for each part, bearing the woodcut coat of arms of Cardinal Hugues Loubens de Verdalle (1531-1595), Grand Master of the Order of Knights of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem. Woodcut decorated initials, head- and tailpieces. Fols. *5r-*6v, containing the privilege of the Grand Master (dated 20 November 1588), within a woodcut border. Magnificent contemporary Roman brown morocco over pasteboards, executed by Francesco Soresini's workshop. Covers within frames of blind and gilt fillets, narrow frieze all'antica, and small floral tools. At centre cornerpieces, on the top the monogram 'IHS', all in gilt; on the upper cover painted coat of arms of the Grand Master Hugues Loubens de Verdalle, in gilt medallion surmounted by cardinal hat, below the inscription in gilt 'F. VGO DE LOVBENX VERDALA CAR: GRAN MAESTRO'; on the lower cover painted coat of arms of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem painted within gilt oval frame, below the inscription 'DEL CAVAL. F. FRAN. HIER. BERTIO' in gilt, referring to the Knight Francesco Girolamo Berti. Spine with four raised bands, underlined with gilt fillets, compartments decorated with gilt foliate tools, title in gold on lettering-piece. Edges gilt. Joints weakened but still solid, extremities of the spine and corners slightly worn. A very good copy, with only occasional foxing.

Provenance: Grand Master of the Order of Knights of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem, Hugues Loubens de Verdalle (1531-1595; armorial binding); given by him as a gift to Francesco Girolamo Berti (gilt inscription on the lower cover); to his brother Fabrizio Berti (ownership inscription on the first title-page 'Di Fra Fabritio Bertio Baglio di Pavia 1595').

The rarest issue of the Italian translation of the Statuta of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, first printed in Latin in 1589, presented here in an exceptional copy magnificently bound for the dedicatee and sponsor of the edition, cardinal Hugues Loubens de Verdalle, Grand Master of the Order between 1581 and 1595.

The Statutes were translated from Latin into Italian by Giacomo Bosio, the representative of the Knights at the Roman Curia. The Italian version was examined and approved by a commission in Malta, and was given the same legal status as the original Latin text. The Grand Master decided therefore that the costs of publication were to be sustained by the Order and copies distributed among its members.

The copy presented here is in a handsome binding executed by the leading workshop of Francesco Soresini, appointed Papal binder at the death of Niccolò Franzese in 1575, and the founder of a celebrated dynasty of binders (Francesco, Prospero, and Baldassarre were his heirs). Soresini counted among his clients popes, cardinals, generals of religious orders, and members of the most distinguished Roman families. The binding was commissioned by the Grand Master Hugues Loubens de Verdalle, as attested by his coat of arms and name on the upper cover, and given by him as a gift to Francesco Girolamo Berti, who had entered the Order on 20 September 1567, and whose name is lettered in gilt on the lower cover. The volume then passed down to his brother Fabrizio Berti, who was appointed knight on 4 July 1575 and subsequently became Balio of Pavia, his hometown.

F. de Hellwald, Bibliographie méthodique de l'Ordre Souverain de St. Jean de Jérusalem, Rome 1885, p. 28; G. Vianini Tolomei, Legatura Romana Barocca 1565-1700, Rome 1991, pl. VII (for the tools used here); Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 165.

$ 21.000
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