The Cesi 'Seven Hills’

Plutarchus (ca. 45-120).

La prima [- seconda] parte delle Vite di Plutarco Tradotte da M. Lodovico Domenichi. Con gli suoi Sommarii posti dinanzi a ciascuna Vita.... Venice, Gabriele Giolito de’ Ferrari, 1560.

Plutarchus (ca. 45-120) La prima [- seconda] parte delle Vite di Plutarco Tradotte da M. Lodovico Domenichi. Con gli suoi Sommarii posti dinanzi a ciascuna Vita.... Gabriele Giolito de’ Ferrari, 1560.

Two volumes, 4° (225x161 mm). I. Collation: *4, A-Z8, AA-ZZ8, AAA-PPP8. [8], 937, [3] pages; II. Two parts, each with separate title-page. Collation: †4, a-z8, aa-kk8, ll4; aaa-eee8, fff10 (fol. fff5 signed 'ggg'). [8], 535; [101] pages. Roman and italic type. Woodcut printer's device on title-page of both volumes, on the recto of fol. PPP8, on the title-page of the Tabulae (fols. aaa1r), and on the verso of fol. fff10. Nearly contemporary uniform Roman binding, brown morocco over pasteboards. Covers within blind fillets and narrow gilt roll, at the outer corners the Cesi 'seven hills'. At the centre small floral tools and fleuron in gilt. On the upper cover of the first volume the gilt inscription in a cartouche '.VITE. DI. PLUTARCA. I. PARTE'; on the upper cover of the second one ‘‘.VITE. DI. PLUTARCA. 2. PARTE', likewise in gilt lettering. Spines with seven raised bands, underlined with gilt fillets, rebacked; title and volume numbering in gold. Original, handsome gauffered and painted edges, the fore-edge showing the Cesi coat of arms, a tree above seven hills. Good copies, foxing in places, trace of old stamps, now illegible, on both title-pages.

Provenance: from the library of the Cesi family (armorial binding).

A magnificently bound copy of the Italian edition of Plutarch's Vitae, translated for the Venetian printer Giolito by his collaborator, the polymath Lodovico Domenichi (1515-1564). The two-volume publication is a substantial re-issue – introduced with a newly recomposed title-page bearing the printing date '1560' – of the first edition, which had appeared in 1555 (see no. 118).

As their fine armorial binding stamped with the seven-hills coat of arms attests, the volumes presented here were once preserved in the library assembled by the aristocratic Cesi family which was highly connected in Rome and the Papal States. The most outstanding member of this family was undoubtedly the naturalist, scientist, and Duke of Acquasparta, Federico Cesi (1585-1630), founder of the Accademia dei Lincei (Lincean Academy) in 1603, and one of the most influential patrons of Galileo Galilei. The entry relating to a copy of the Giolitine Plutarch of 1560 is included in the inventory of Federico's books located at Acquasparta, the Cesi palace, listing also volumes owned by other members of the family, which never entered the Lincean Academy. The inventory Libri diuersi dell'Heredita sudetta, held in the Academy Archives (ms Archivio Linceo XXXII) was compiled between February and April 1631, in order to divide the inheritance among Frederico's heirs – his second wife, Isabella Salviati, sister of the mathematician Francesco Salviati, and his brother, Giovanni Federico Cesi. Plutarch's Lives is listed among the volumes put in a case filled with moral and historical books (‘Cassa N, Morali et Historici'): “P.a parte delle vite di Plutarco tradotte da Domen[i]chi con li suoi Sommarij con la dei paesi [pesi] in Venetia 1660. [i.e. 1560] del Giolito”.

STC Italian 528 (describing a slightly different issue); M. T. Biagetti, La Biblioteca di Federico Cesi, Roma 2008, p. 172, no. 748; Eadem, “Dispersed Collections of Scientific Books. The Case of the Private Library of Federico Cesi (1685-1630)”, F. Bruni - A. Pettegree (eds.), Lost Books. Reconstructing the Print World of Pre-Industrial Europe, Leiden-Boston 2016, pp. 386-399; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 125.

$ 52.000