One of the two known copies printed on blue paper

Biondo, Michelangelo (1500-1565).

Della nobilissima pittura, et della sua arte, del modo, et della dottrina, di conseguirla, agevolmente et presto. Venice, al segno di Apolline, Bartolomeo Imperatore, 1549.

Biondo, Michelangelo (1500-1565) Della nobilissima pittura, et della sua arte, del modo, et della dottrina, di conseguirla, agevolmente et presto. al segno di Apolline, Bartolomeo Imperatore, 1549.

8° (152x100 mm). Printed on blue paper. Collation: A4, A-G4. [4], 27, [1] leaves. Italic and roman type. Woodcut printer's device on the verso of the last leaf. Woodcut decorated initials. Dark blue morocco signed by Masson De Bonnel. Spine with five raised bands, title in gilt lettering. Marbled pastedowns and flyleaves, inside dentelles. Gilt edges. A very good copy, loss to the outer lower corner of the title-page and fol. G3, in both cases not affecting text; few lightly browned stains.

Provenance: early illegible ownership inscription in brown ink on recto of fol. A2.

A copy exceptionally printed on blue paper of the first appearance in print of the famous Della nobilissima pittura, an edition rarely seen on the market: there exists only one auction record of an ordinary copy in the last sixty years.

The treatise was written by the Venetian physician Michelangelo Biondo, who lived mainly in Naples and Rome. Della nobilissima pittura is dedicated to the 'Eccellentissimi Pittori di tutta l'Europa', and represents one of the most interesting works on art theory produced during the Italian Renaissance; in it, Biondo avers the dignity of painting, arguing for its worthy consideration as a liberal art.

Along with Lancilotti's Trattato di pittura, Biondo's work represents one of the first sixteenth-century attempts to adopt the literary form of the dream-narrative: in Della nobilissima pittura the personification of painting appears to the author in a dream and laments her low stature among the liberal arts. Biondo quotes numerous contemporary artists and authors, and further references various other writings on the topic, thereby offering a valuable survey of Renaissance art theory.

Of the first edition of the Della nobilissima pittura, only one other copy on blue paper is recorded, which is preserved in the Fondo Cicognara of the Biblioteca Vaticana. The present copy could well be that volume in carta Turchina listed in the catalogue of the Bibliotheca Smithiana, the celebrated library assembled by Joseph Smith (ca. 1682-1770), British consul in Venice between 1744 and 1760, and sold in the lagunar city in 1755.

STC Italian 106; Cicognara 82; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 108.

$ 16.500
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