Illustrated Books and Prints Philobiblon

One Thousand Years of Bibliophily from the 11th to the 21st Century

The exquisite taste of an Italian collector. Natalizio Benedetti’s Tarot of Mantegna.

8. The so-called ‘Mantegna Tarocchi’

. Set of fifty engravings, by the Masters of the Tarocchi. Northern Italy (possibly Ferrara), before 1467.

Fifty plates (platemarks 178x101 mm, and similar; each leaf, with margins, measuring 199x127 mm). Forty-eight plates from the E-series (Hind 1a-18a, 20a-31a, 33a-50a; Bartsch 18A-35A, 37A-48A, 50A-67A); two from the S-series, Clio (pl. 19; Hind 19b; Bartsch 36) and Chronico or The Genius of Time (pl. 32; Hind 32b; Bartsch 49); one print, the Rhetorica (pl. 23; Hind 23a; Bartsch 40A), inserted recently from another E-series set.

This set is in its book form, in a single quire of twenty-five sheets, with forty-eight plates printed in twos, each pairing printed on a single sheet measuring 199x254 mm, in the original numbered sequence; the Rhetorica plate is trimmed within the platemark, and laid on a single leaf of antique paper which has been skilfully re-conjugated with pl. 28 (Philosofia, Hind 28a). Many sheets feature a watermark 'Flower in a Stem with two Leaves' similar to Briquet nos. 6647-6649, from Northern Italy, ca. 1465-1472. Impressions in greyish black with the fine shading of the figures just outlined, and very few details worn. Generally in very good condition, with margins of 10-15 mm on all four sides, some leaves with minor staining, light discolouration and a few areas of foxing, the last four pages with short worm-track. Traces of glue in several blank versos of the plates. Rebound in early boards, in a full calf slipcase.

Provenance: the volume of forty-nine plates was once owned by Natalizio Benedetti, priore novello and an antiquarian in the Umbrian city of Foligno (1559–1614; ownership inscription in brown ink on the blank recto of the first leaf, 'De Natalitis Benedetti. Suoi Amici e fr.elli. i.e., 'His friends and brothers'); the Benedetti family and its descendants (i.e., Bernardino Lattanzi); Sotheby's London, Catalogue of Important Old Master Engravings, Etchings, and Woodcuts, 26 April 1979, lot 117 (see below); Bernardino Lattanzi; by descent to Christie's London, Old Master Prints, 8 December 2009, lot 4.

For the Rhetorica plate (pl. 23): Henry Foster Sewall (1816-1896); acquired by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in November 1897; deaccessioned around 1917 (see stamp on verso 'Duplicate Sold by The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston'); Anderson Gallery (Catalogue of Engravings, Etchings, Woodcuts and Lithographs. Duplicates from the Collection of The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, New York, 19-20 February 1918, lot 2); Robin Halwas, London.

An extremely rare and important complete set – exceptionally presented in its wide-margined book form – of one of the few Renaissance works of art, not only in the field of engraving, to fully express the life, customs, and indeed entire cultural world of the courtly and learned class of fifteenth-century Italy.

Traditionally called Tarocchi or the Tarot Cards of Mantegna and generally dating to before 1467, these are the earliest engraved cards in Italy, and without a doubt the most fascinating and problematic of the surviving fifteenth-century prints. Although these engravings have been studied extensively and have long been regarded as highly significant examples of early Italian engraving, the cards have yet to disclose all their secrets. It must also be stated at the outset that their conventional title is doubly misleading, for they have only a slight discernible relationship to Mantegna – arguably one of the greatest artists of the fifteenth century – and the very assumption that they are playing cards at all has been called into question. They were most likely an educational game, as supported by the fact that in the very few copies that survive, the prints are presented or in book form or as single prints, but never mounted as playing-cards in a loose deck. Furthermore, there are only fifty cards in total, as opposed to the standard seventy-two typical of a fifteenth-century hand-painted deck of playing-cards, and, most interestingly, their organization and sequence is quite different.

The Tarocchi are known in two series, conventionally referred to as the 'E-series' and 'S-series', both comprising fifty plates divided into five groups. “No impressions are known showing differences of state, or later rework” (Hind I, p. 228). Each print bears a descriptive title, a letter identifying the group to which it belongs, and a number (in both Arabic and Roman numerals) indicating its position in the sequence.

In the E-series the groupings are as follows, according to a scheme in which the letters are in reverse order to the numbers: Ranks and Conditions of Men (letter E, cards 1-10); Apollo and the Muses (letter D, cards 11-20); Liberal Arts (letter C, cards 21-30); Cosmic Principles (Genii) and Virtues (letter B, cards 31-40); and Planets and Spheres of the Universe (letter A, cards 41-50). The first group of ten prints, marked with the letter 'E' in the E-series, is marked with the letter 'S' in the S-series, hence the adopted nomenclature.

The issue of the date and priority of these two series has long been discussed among scholars. Hind's argument, in opposition to Kristeller and Donati, for the priority of the E-series, has proven most convincing. In fact, numerous technical and stylistic details strongly suggest that this series is the earliest, and that the S-series is a direct copy of it. The iconographic and textual details are mostly identical across the two series – the 'second artist' has even copied some errors in the lettering of the titles, as with the reversed 'N' in the Merchant (pl. 4) – but the quality of outline and modelling in the prints belonging to the E-series is evidently higher: the E-series prints have, as Hind has remarked, an “impressive dignity”: “The E series is engraved with remarkable technical precision and neatness in fine rectangular cross-hatching, more cleanly cut and more clearly printed [...] The S series is cut with less precision [...] Moreover the engraver of the S series shows a certain lack of skill in the control of his graver, letting his lines of shading slip from time to time over the contour-line of his figures” (Hind I, p. 224). Furthermore, forty-two of the images are completely or partially reversed in the S-series, and one image – the Re (pl. 8) – was extensively modified: in the E-series the image of the King still follows the medieval iconography, while in the subsequent S-series it is significantly changed into the image of a classical ruler (see Hind, 8b, pl. 327).

The E-series was executed around 1465, as supported by documentary evidence in the form of a Bolognese manuscript – dated to 1467 and preserved in the State Archives in Bologna – which contains a miniature featuring a close copy of the print titled Imperator (pl. 9). Further evidence is found in a manuscript held at the Abbey Library of Saint Gall (Switzerland) which was completed on 28 November 1468 and contains images of the four cardinal virtues copied from the Tarots of Mantegna. The S-series is generally dated to about 1485, or as late as the end of the 1480s, and the attribution is similarly uncertain.

The possible identity of the artist(s) who produced these Tarocchi, as well as their possible pictorial sources, is still a controversial topic that is open to debate. It has long been acknowledged that their execution should not be attributed to Mantegna. Scholars have since variously turned their attributions to schools or artists operating in different Italian cities; among these Venice had previously been considered most probable, as argued by Kristeller and others, owing to the presence of a print titled Doxe, i.e., the head of government in that lagunar town. However, the Tarocchi may instead be the work of artists belonging to the Ferrarese school, as several stylistic and iconographic features suggest. For example, a figure similar to the Merchadante (i.e., the Merchant, pl. 4) appears in a fresco devoted to the Month of August in the Palazzo Schifanoia cycle, while the Chavalier (i.e., the Knight, pl. 6) bears close resemblance to a figure included in the Triumph of Venus from the Month of April, likewise part of the fresco cycle executed by Francesco Cossa.

Furthermore, other prints of the Tarocchi closely resemble two allegorical figures of the Muses preserved in the National Museum of Art in Budapest and attributed to the Sienese artist Angelo Parrasio, a pupil of Piero della Francesca who was active at the Ferrarese court between 1447 and 1456, and who worked on a series of Muses painted for the Este studio at Belfiore. Other similarities can be found in the figures of the two Enthroned Goddesses belonging to the Strozzi Collection in Florence, likewise attributed by Georg Gombosi to Parrasio. On this basis, Kenneth Clark has concluded that Parrasio may have been the designer of the Tarocchi, an attribution which is, however, rather speculative: “there is no documentary evidence of printmaking in Italy before the 1460s, and if the Tarocchi were engraved after Parrasio's inventions, they would have to be dated around 1455. More importantly, it is hard to believe that the Tarocchi are simply reproductive prints [...] Their meticulous, even exquisite technique is so perfectly suited to the style of the images that the engraver and the designer must have been identical [...] we think it most likely that the Tarocchi are the work of a miniaturist, not a monumental painter, schooled in the circle of the Budapest and Strozzi master and active in Ferrara in the early 1460s” (Levenson, Early Italian Engravings, p. 87).

The set presented here is in good condition, with 10-15-mm margins on all four sides. It contains a total of fifty engravings, forty-eight of which belong to the earliest E-series (Hind 1a-18a, 20a-31a, 33a-50a; Bartsch 18A-35A, 37A-48A, 50A-67A), and two to the S-series, Clio (pl. 19; Hind 19b; Bartsch 36) and Chronico or The Genius of Time (pl. 32; Hind 32b; Bartsch 49). Only one print – the Rhetorica (pl. 23; Hind 23a; Bartsch 40A) – has more recently been added to the set, while the two S-series plates have been ab origine, i.e., always, bound with the forty-seven from the E-series.

Even single plates in good condition are extremely scarce on the market, with complete sets being almost impossible to find; Bartsch records ten complete sets in public collections, including only three bound sets in the Museo di Capodimonte in Naples, the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, and the Museo Civico in Pavia. Another bound set with one plate missing is held at the Musée Condé, Château de Chantilly. To these four bound sets already on record, the present set is now to be added, providing significant further evidence that the Tarocchi were originally printed in pairs of two to a single sheet, with each sheet subsequently folded and bound together as a book, or, more frequently, cut as single prints.

In addition to its extraordinary completeness and rarity, the set described here is of the greatest importance and value owing to its provenance, which narrates a fascinating tale of collecting, even within the already fascinating context of the Tarots of Mantegna. The set's earliest recorded owner was Natalizio Benedetti (1559-1614), an outstanding antiquarian and collector from Foligno (Umbria). He was priore novello of the city in 1592, then entered the service of Bishop and later Cardinal Filippo Filonardi (ca. 1576-1622). Benedetti had a wide European network of relationships, as evinced through his correspondence with the renowned book collector, antiquarian, and great patron of the arts, Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc (1580-1637). In 1601 Peiresc had visited Benedetti's museum or cimeliarchium in Foligno, and their late, mutual correspondence testifies not only to the exchange of learned information between the two men, but also to the number of jewels, antiques, and other art objects which Benedetti had amassed in his palace. Contemporary sources refer to Benedetti's possession of about five hundred volumes, and to the drawing-up of a 294-page catalogue of his entire art collection. After his death on 27 October 1614, his marvellous collection of books, prints, coins, jewels, sculptures, antiques, and other objects of exquisite taste, valued at approximately 5,000 scudi, was mostly dispersed. Books with his ownership inscription, many speaking to his antiquarian interests, are scattered across various libraries, in Italy and abroad, as in the case of a copy of the Antichità di Roma by Pirro Ligorio at the Stanford University Library. In 1774 the aforementioned catalogue is known to have been in the hands of Abbot Giovanni Mengoli, then rector of the Foligno seminary, who had received it as a gift from Natalizio's heirs. Unfortunately, the catalogue of Benedetti's collection is now believed to be lost; however, an interesting trace has recently been discovered in a manuscript held at the Biblioteca Marciana in Venice (ms Ital. Cl. VI, cod. 214) relating to another great Italian collector of the age, Francesco Angeloni (1587-1652), who had purchased a large portion of Benedetti's antique collection, then passed in the hands of Giovanni Pietro Bellori (1613-1696), and now partially preserved in the State Museums in Berlin. This manuscript provides a brief summary of the items found in Natalizio's studio after his death, including the general entry “Una quantità di dissegni a penna et in stampa notabili, et altre cose diverse curiose, et belle” (see V. Carpita, “Natalizio Benedetti e Nicolas de Peiresc”, doc. 3, p. 154). Among those 'notable drawings and prints' the anonymous compiler had perhaps had in mind the volume containing the so-called Tarots of Mantegna, a masterpiece which, in the volume presented here, provides a precious record of the history of collecting prints and drawings, along with its different practices throughout the centuries.

After Natalizio's death, the Tarots remained in the possession of the Benedetti family, and then, at the end of the eighteenth century, the collateral line of Roncalli-Benedetti (see B. Lattanzi, “La mostra dei Tarocchi a Foligno”). In 1989, the historian Luigi Sensi provided the first information on the possible fate of Natalizio's collection, mentioning, among others, “una singolare serie di stampe del XV e del XVI secolo che ha seguito, per via ereditaria, la storia della famiglia e che ora è conservata presso i discendenti”, i.e., a “singular series of engravings dating to the fifteenth and sixteenth century which followed, by descent, the story of the family, and is now owned by its descendants” (L. Sensi, “Alla ricerca della collezione di Natalizio Benedetti”, p. 634). In 1990, this 'singular series of engravings' was shown in Foligno, at the occasion of the exhibition Tarocchi. Le carte del destino (i.e.,'Tarocchi: The Cards of Destiny'), for which they were carefully described by Bernardino Lattanzi in his report “La mostra dei Tarocchi a Foligno”. Here Lattanzi described the set as being in its exceedingly rare book form, consisting of forty-nine engravings, of which forty-seven belonged to the earliest E-series, and two (Clio and Chronico) to the S-series. Only one print – the Rhetorica – was lacking, and the recto of the first leaf bore the ownership inscription 'De Natalitis Benedetti. Suoi Amici e fr.elli.': this is undoubtedly the very set presented here. Lattanzi's description does, however, add a critical detail for our reconstruction, in that it reports that the album contains – or better yet, contained, in 1990 – not only the celebrated Tarots of Mantegna, but also thirty-eight additional engravings executed by various fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Italian and German artists, mostly by the renowned German 'Master ES' (see B. Lattanzi, “La mostra dei Tarocchi a Foligno”, pp. 568-569). Evidently, along with other print collectors of the Baroque, Natalizio Benedetti had glued supplementary engravings – unrelated to the subject-matter of the Tarots – onto the blank sides of the leaves bound in his volume. Indeed, it was a tendency among collectors of the time to assemble a specific series of engravings alongside other items, thereby creating heterogeneous art objects.

But the surprises do not stop there. Although unrecorded in its provenance, in 1979 Sotheby's offered the album at auction, presenting the forty-nine Tarot plates bound exactly as they are now (forty-seven plates from the E-series, and the two aforementioned from the S-series) in one lot: they also offered close to thirty-eight fifteenth- and sixteenth-century German and Italian engravings as single lots. The Sotheby's catalogue seems to attest to the dismantling, although in 1990 Lattanzi was once again able to describe the collection as a composite album in the hands (or returned into the hands?) of Benedetti's descendants. In fact, eleven years after the Sotheby's auction, Lattanzi lists – often providing descriptions and illustrations – not only the unsold (or more probably withdrawn) Sotheby's lots which had returned to their original owners, but also surprisingly describes those that were sold! The Foligno Tarots exhibition was re-installed in Rome, Castel S. Angelo, in 1996, and the related catalogue was published in a new and revised edition; from this catalogue we discover that Bernardino Lattanzi was not only the compiler of the 1990 description of Natalizio Benedetti's album, but also the owner of it, being himself a descendant of the Roncalli-Benedetti family.

Regrettably, the album no longer exists in its original form, and only the marvellous series of Tarots survived the disassembling intact. These were eventually sold at auction by Christie's London in 2009; in the provenance, the sale catalogue indicates Natalizio Benedetti, and then “by descent to the present owners”, an aristocratic Italian family (i.e., Lattanzi family).

Despite such questions, however, it is abundantly clear that the so-called Tarots of Mantegna once owned by the distinguished antiquarian and collector Natalizio Benedetti are presented here in all their magnificence, a universally acknowledged symbol of the Renaissance in its purest expression, when art, craft, science and philosophy, were merged together in the service of humanity.

A. M. Hind, Early Italian Engravings. A Critical Catalogue, I, pp. 221-240; The Illustrated Bartsch, 24.3, pp. 1-61; G. Gombosi, “A Ferrarese Pupil of Piero della Francesca”, Burlington Magazine, 62 (1933), pp. 66-78; K. Clark, “Letter”, Burlington Magazine, 62 (1933), p. 143; J. A. Levenson et al., Early Italian Engravings from the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC 1973, pp. 157; C. Cieri Via, “I Tarocchi cosiddetti del Mantegna. Origine, significato e fortuna di un ciclo di immagini”, G. Berti - A. Vitali (eds.), I tarocchi, le carte di corte. Gioco e magia alla corte degli Estensi, Bologna 1987, pp. 49-77; E. Calandra, I Tarocchi detti del Mantegna, Pavia 1992; B. Giordano, “I cosiddetti Tarocchi del Mantegna”, R. Signorini (ed.), A casa di Andrea Mantegna, Cinisello Balsamo, Milano 2006, pp. 298-307; S. Pollack, “I cosiddetti Tarocchi di Mantegna”, M. Natale (ed.), Cosmè Tura e Francesco del Cossa. L'arte a Ferrara nell'età di Borso d'Este. Catalogo della mostra, Ferrara 2007, pp. 398-403; D. M. Faloci Pulignani, “Tre antiche stampe del Giardinetto”, Il Bibliofilo, 5 (1884), pp. 153-157; L. Sensi, “Alla ricerca della collezione di Natalizio Benedetti”, Bollettino storico della città di Foligno, L. Sensi, “Alla ricerca della collezione di Natalizio Benedetti”, Bollettino Storico della città di Foligno, 13 (1989), pp. 629-639; G. Berti, P. Marsili, A. Vitali (eds.), Tarocchi. Le carte del destino. Catalogo della mostra, Foligno 15 settembre-14 ottobre 1990, Faenza 1990; B. Lattanzi, “La mostra dei Tarocchi a Foligno”, Bollettino storico della città di Foligno, 14 (1990), pp. 565-572; B. Marinelli, “Delle dimore della famiglia Benedetti”, ibid., 19 (1995), pp. 581-601; G. Berti - A. Vitali (eds.), Tarocchi. Le carte del destino. Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant'Angelo, Roma 1996, pp. 12-13; L. Sensi, “Natalizio Benedetti e la sua collezione”, Peiresc (1604-2004). Actes du colloque tenu à Peyresq du 26 au 30 août 2004, Science et Techniques en perspective, 9 (2005), pp. 153-171 ; V. Carpita, “Natalizio Benedetti e Nicolas de Peiresc. Dal gusto per le “anticaglie” agli esordi dell'archeologia”, M. Fumaroli - F. Solinas - V. Carpita (eds.), Peiresc et l'Italie, Paris 2009, pp. 105-156; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 8.

The first book with a title-page

20. Regiomontanus, Johannes (1436-1476)

Kalendarium. Bernhard Maler, Peter Loeslein and Erhard Ratdolt, 1476.

4° (270x203 mm). Collation: [18, 210, 314]. [32] leaves. Text in one column, 37 lines. Type: 109R, 50G (for a few words and the letters in the plates). Title-page printed in red and black, within three-sided woodcut border consisting of symmetrical floral and foliate designs, in this copy lavishly illuminated on gold ground. The shield included in the lower panel of the border filled in with a small coat of arms, a standing lion painted in blue; the same coat of arms in larger size and painted on silver ground in the lower margin, within laurel wreath and flanked by two cornucopias. On the same leaf the large initial 'A' printed in red. Fourteen large illuminated initials with acanthus leaves on gold ground. The twenty-four-page Calendar with initials, names of the saints and figures printed in red. Sixty woodcuts depicting the various stages of lunar and solar eclipses (fols. [2]/6-[2]/8; some repeated), many of which are hand coloured in yellow. Four hand-coloured instruments printed on two double sheets glued together: the 'instrvmentvm horarvm inaeqvalivm' (fol. [3]/1r) and the 'instrvmentvm veri motvs lvnae.minve' (fol. [3]/1v) are lacking two moveable volvelles (only a piece of string with a small black pearl and one of silk survive), while both the 'qvadrans horologii horizontalis' (fol. [3]/14r) and the 'qvadratvm horarivm generale' (fol. [3]/14v) include a brass pointer (a portion is missing). Late seventeenth-century calf, over pasteboards. Covers within blind-tooled border. Spine with five small raised bands, with title 'kal 1476' lettered in gilt. A handsome, wide-margined copy. Minor loss at the outer blank corners of the first leaf and at upper outer corner of the opening border; very tiny holes at the margins of first fifteen leaves, partially affecting the opening border and text, decreasing towards the second half of the volume; the gold illumination showing through slightly on the verso. Traces of red wax seals on four leaves, including the verso of the first plate; some fingermarks. The ninth line of text on the title-page bearing the name of the author – “Hoc Ioannes opus Regio de Monte probatum” – has been censored but is still readable. Early inked foliation in the upper margin. A few contemporary marginalia.

Provenance: Blue lion coat of arms, on the recto of the first leaf, possibly relating to the Sforza family; the Alsatian mining entrepreneur Edouard de Turckheim (1829-1909; his rich library was kept at the Turckheim castle in Dachstein, in the Lower Rhine region).

An extraordinary illuminated copy of the Calendar by Regiomontanus, first issued in Latin in 1474 from the Augsburg press of Erhard Ratdolt, who moved to Venice in 1476. It is the first book he printed there, in partnership with Bernhard Maler, also of Augsburg, and Peter Löslein, of Langencen (in Bavaria), and represents – to borrow the words of Gilbert R. Redgrave – a 'marvellous improvement' upon the Kalendarium printed by Regiomontanus himself in Nuremberg in 1473.

This Venetian publication is rightly famous for bearing the earliest known example of an ornamental title-page in the history of printing: even if in verse, it gives date, place and the names of the printers responsible for the publication:

Aureus hic liber est: non est preciosior ulla / Gema kalendario: quod docet istud opus./ [...] Hoc Ioannes opus Regio de Monte probatum / Composuit: tota notus in Italia. / Quod Veneta impressum fuit in tellure per illos / Inferius quorum nomina picta loco. 1476. Bernardus Pictor de Augusta, Petrus Loslein de Langencen, Erhardus Ratdolt de Augusta.

Further, this Venetian Calendar is the first Italian book to feature extensive use of woodcut initials.

Regiomontanus was one of the first to realize the impact printing would have in disseminating scientific knowledge and in 1472 he established his own private press in Nuremberg for the production of the Calendar and other mathematical and astronomical works. The German astronomer “incorporated in his productions the first solutions to a host of typographical problems: tabula data [...]; pioneering printed geometrical diagrams, illustrations of eclipses and planetary models (some systematically coloured by hand under the supervision of the press); the first volvelles and sundials with built-in brass arms in a printed book” (M. H. Shank, “The Geometrical Diagrams”, p. 27). In Venice, Ratdolt replicated Regiomontanus' pioneering results and simultaneously produced a Latin and an Italian edition of the Calendar for the years 1475-1530, a veritable instrument-book for calculating moon phases, eclipses, and other astronomical events. The publication included charts for daylight hours and seasonal locations of the sun in the sky, phases of the moon, and conversions of planetary hours to equal hours, an essay on the true date of Easter, and a table indicating its incidence for each year up to 1531.

The border framing the title-page is designed in the purest Renaissance style. As Goldsmith states, the floral and foliate motifs recall the ornaments carved in relief by Lombardi in the marble pilasters of the Venetian church Santa Maria dei Miracoli. In the copy presented here, the border is illuminated. In this Ratdolt's Venetian edition “one recognizes an undeniable Italian Renaissance influence in both the borders and initials [...] Here, a new harmony is achieved by Ratdolt's congruous design in both initials and borders, which seem to have been executed by the same cutter, resulting in some of the most beautiful borders ever included in a printed book” (D. Laube, The Stylistic Development of German Book Illustration, p. 54).

In 1476, probably after this Latin edition, the Calendar was also issued in Italian by Ratdolt. The Italian edition omits the disquisition on the true date of Easter and table of its incidence from 1488 to 1531, and thus has thirty leaves instead of thirty-two. Both editions have the same border pieces, and the first ornamental frame bestowed on a title-page.

While the Latin Calendarium is not so rare among public libraries, it is scarcely seen on the market and a copy in this condition is unique. It is extremely unusual to find a scientific book – or, better still, an instrument-book – with illuminations of such high quality, clearly executed for a very distinguished patron: as suggested by the blue lion coat of arms, the as-yet-unidentified original owner of this copy may well have been a member of the Sforza family.

Hain 13776*; GW M37455; BMC V, 243; IGI 5310; Goff R-93; Essling 247; Sander 6400; G. R. Redgrave, Erhard Ratdolt and His Work at Venice, London 1899, pp. 6-9, and no. 1; E. Ph. Goldsmith, The Printed Book of the Renaissance, Amsterdam 1974, pp. 63-66; D. De Simone (ed.), A Heavenly Craft. The Woodcut in Early Printed Books. Illustrated Books Purchased by Lessing J. Rosenwald at the Sale of the Library of C. W. Dyson Perrins, New York-Washington, DC 2004, pp. 54-55; M. H. Shank, “The Geometrical Diagrams in Regiomontanus's Edition of His Own Disputationes (c. 1475). Background, Production, and Diffusion”, Journal for the History of Astronomy, 43 (2012), pp. 27-55; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 20.

The first Italian translation of Valturio

27. Valturio, Roberto (1413-1484)

De re militari [Italian]. Opera dell’arte militare. Tr: Paolo Ramusio. Boninus de Boninis, de Ragusia, 17 February 1483.

Chancery folio (302x208 mm). Collation: [*]6, a-d8, e6, f–g8, h10, i-u8, x-y6, z8, &8, cum6, rum6, A-B6, C-E8, F-G6, H-I8, K10, L-N8, O10. 312 of [314] leaves, lacking fols. [*]1 and O10 blanks, whereas the blank a8 is present. Text in one column, 36 lines and headline. Type: 2:114R, 1:90G. Two- to nine-line blank capital spaces, a few with printed guide letters. Ninety-five woodcuts, many full-page (including one repeat). Sixteenth-century limp vellum, inked title on the spine. A fine, wide-margined copy, repair to the lower gutter of the first five leaves. Numerous marginalia in a sixteenth century hand; the same hand has annotated an index of subjects on four added leaves.

A fine copy of the very rare first Italian translation of the most famous treatise on military art ever written. It is the first vernacular edition of one of the earliest scientific works ever printed, and the earliest to contain technical illustrations, showing in detail the equipment necessary for ground and naval warfare. “The historical importance of the De Re Militari lies in the fact that it is the first book printed with illustrations of a technical or scientific character depicting the progressive engineering ideas of the author's own time. The woodcuts illustrate the equipment necessary for the military and naval engineer [...] The Verona Valturius and its reprints were the handbooks of the military leaders of the Renaissance, and Leonardo da Vinci, when acting as chief engineer to Cesare Borgia, possessed a copy and borrowed some of its designs” (PMM).

The De re militari was composed between 1455 and 1460 by Roberto Valturio, a military engineer and technical adviser at the Rimini court, on behalf of his patron Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta (1417-1468). The treatise enjoyed immediate success and was widely circulated in manuscript form (see no. 178). The work first appeared in print in 1472, from the Verona press of Johannes Nicolai: this was a splendid volume supplemented with eighty-two woodcuts illustrating an astonishing array of tools and war machines. These illustrations were likely executed after designs by the medalist Matteo de' Pasti (ca. 1412 - after 1467), who had been a pupil of Leon Battista Alberti, and was also in the service of Sigismondo Malatesta. A second edition appeared on 13 February 1483, followed four days later by the first Italian translation; both these editions were likewise printed in Verona. Their printing may have been financed by the Veronese Bassano Medici, son of Niccolò, the wealthy patron of the arts. The edition in Italian vernacular is rarer than both Latin publications.

The volume opens with a dedicatory epistle by the editor and translator from Treviso Paolo Ramusio – active as a magistrate 'ad banchum Regine Leone' at Verona, and father of the more famous geographer Giovanni Battista – to the well-known condottiero Roberto di San Severino (1418-1487). The text is illustrated with reduced copies of the woodcuts used in the first edition of 1472, apart from one woodcut on fol. r1r, which is entirely new and depicts two soldiers seated in a tent; their sequence does however differ slightly from that first Veronese edition. The woodblocks were likely cut by one of the artists then active in the city, such as Fra' Giovanni Olivetano, Giovanni Zebellana, or a member of the Golfino dynasty.

The Italian Valturio was skilfully printed by Bonino de Boninis from Ragusa (Dalmatia), who was active in Verona between 1481 and 1483. It is the last of the seven books printed by him in Verona, before his move to Brescia, where he printed the famous illustrated edition of Dante's Commedia.

HC 15849; GW M49416; BMC VII, 952; IGI 10116; Goff V-90; Rhodes Verona 19; Norman 2127; Sander 2483; PMM 10; T. Radakiewicz, “The editio princeps of R. Valturio's De re militari”, Maso Finiguerra, 18-19 (1940), pp. 15-82; A. Campana, “Felice Feliciano e la prima edizione del Valturio”, ibid., pp. 211-222; S. Ricossa – P.L. Bassignana (eds.), Le macchine di Valturio nei documenti dell'Archivio Storico AMMA, Torino 1988; A. Brumana, “Nota su Bonino Bonini”, Commentari dell'Ateneo di Brescia, 1991, pp. 95-121; A. Contò, “Da Rimini a Verona: le edizioni quattrocentesche del De re militari”, P. Delbianco (ed.) Roberto Valturio, De re militari. Saggi critici, Rimini-Milano, 2006, pp. 95-104; D. Frioli, “Da Rimini a Verona: Roberto Valturio, Domenico Foschi e Felice Feliciano”, R. M. Borraccini – G. Borri (eds.), Virtute et labore. Studi offerti a Giuseppe Avarucci per i suoi settant'anni, Spoleto 2008, pp. 1073-1109; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 27.

A very rare illustrated Libro da Compagnia

28. Confraternity Rosary, Florence

Compagnia ovvero Confraternita del Psalterio ovvero Rosario della gloriosissima Vergine Maria. Ordinazioni, istitutioni, capitoli, regole, privilegii ed indulgentie. [Florence, Antonio di Bartolomeo Miscomini, after 4 May 1485].

4° (250x136 mm). Collation: a12. [12] leaves. Text in one column, 25 lines. Type: 112R. Title on fol. a2r printed in red. Headings, initial letters and section marks printed in red throughout. On fol. a1v large woodcut within octagonal border, containing a rose garland framing a crown and a rosary with the letters 'rsm', at the bottom the inscription 'Questo e el segno della compagnia del Rosario della Vergine Maria'. On fol. a2r half-page woodcut vignette depicting the Annunciation. Old vellum, over paperboards; inked title on spine. A good copy, slightly washed, foxing in places. Repair to the outer blank margin of the first two leaves; some wormholes restored, some of them affecting the woodcuts on fols. a1v and a2r, and a few letters of text.

First and only edition of this exceedingly rare Florentine illustrated incunable, of which only four copies are recorded among institutional libraries, these being held in the Biblioteca dell'Archiginnasio in Bologna, the Biblioteca degli Intronati in Siena, the Houghton Library at Harvard University, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (incomplete).

This booklet, printed in red and black and supplemented with two fine woodcuts, belongs to the popular genre of so-called Libri da Compagnia, which includes statutes, bulls, privileges, and indulgences regarding the numerous religious confraternities or sodalities established in Italy during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, as a distinctive form of piety and devotion encouraged by mendicant orders. It contains the text, in Italian vernacular, of the statutes of the Florentine Compagnia del Rosario – the Rosary sodality being closely associated with the Dominican cloister of San Marco, where the Compagnia had obtained the privilege of the altar of the Annunciation in 1480/81. The practice of rosary has a Dominican origin, with the tradition claiming that this devotion would have been revealed by the Virgin Mary to St. Dominic, founder of the order.

The present edition – the printing of which was commissioned by the friars of San Marco – was issued entirely anonymously and without any date, although it is generally attributed to the Modena printer Antonio Miscomini, who was active in Florence between 1481-1485 and 1489 1495. Miscomini's production was focused both on 'high' Florentine humanist works – he published several by Marsilio Ficino, including the first edition of the De triplici vita in 1489 (see no. 30) – as well as popular texts in Italian vernacular, including statutes, sacre rappresentazioni, and devotional writings. The volume contains two woodcuts, whose subject is deeply related to the Rosary confraternity. On the verso of the first leaf is a large woodcut within an octagonal border showing the 'segno della compagnia del Rosario della Vergine Maria', a crown bearing a rosary and the inscription 'rsm' surrounded by a rose garland. The half-page vignette on the recto of fol. a2 depicts the Annunciation, recalling the privilege obtained by the Florentine confraternity. Both images contributed to the development of rosary iconography and of the Marian cult more generally. An identical crown symbolizing the Virgin is found in the Dichiaratione della Chiesa di Sancta Maria del Loreto, printed by Francesco di Dino in Florence in about 1483, in the printing press of San Jacopo at Ripoli.

GW M43809; IGI 3112; Goff S-758; Rhodes Firenze, 213; Sander 6574, and pls. 497-498 (the printing attributed to Francesco Bonaccorsi); A. Jacobson Schutte, Printed Italian Vernacular Religious Books (1465-1550. A Finding List, Genève 1983, p. 143; R. Rusconi, “Pratica culturale ed istruzione religiosa nelle confraternite italiane del tardo Medioevo: 'libri da compagnia' e libri di pietà”, Le mouvement confraternal au Moyen Age. France Italie, Suisse, Rome 1987, pp. 133-153; C. Dondi, “Libri da compagnia Printed in Fifteenth- and Sixteenth-Century in Italy”, Quaerendo, 41 (2011), pp. 183-192; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 28.

As book jackets do today — Paul Needham

34. (Benali’s wrappers)

Monte de la oratione. [Venice, Bernardinus Benalius (?), before June 1493].

4° (204x145 mm). Collation: [18, 2-84]. [36] leaves. Text in one column, 32-33 lines. Type: 130G, 85G. Full-page woodcut on fol. a2v. Woodcut decorated initial on fol. a3r, Lombards throughout. Original pictorial paper wrappers, now cased in transparent plastic material, black morocco spine, with title and 'Benali's wrappers' in gilt lettering. In a black morocco box. A good copy, slightly waterstained and spotted.

This vernacular edition, printed in Venice and bound in attractive and scarce pictorial paper wrappers, is generally attributed to the printer Bernardinus Benalius. The publication has also been ascribed to Paulus Fridenperger.

Examples of early paper bindings with woodcuts are very rare, and of the greatest value and import for the history of engraving. These wrappers “were meant to function not as permanent binding, but rather as eye-catching advertisements for the books they covered, precisely as book jackets do today” (P. Needham, Twelve Centuries of Bookbindings, New York 1979, p. 117). The woodcuts designed for the upper and lower cover, which probably belonged to Benalius himself, were used as cheap coverings for different books, independent from their content. In the present edition, the woodcut on the upper cover depicts St. John the Baptist and St. Peter in a desert landscape supporting circles formed of intertwined foliage symbolizing the Trinity; on the lower cover, the woodcut shows St. John the Evangelist with his eagle and St. Francis standing before a church and supporting the foliage circles, along with the name and virtue of Maria. The full-page woodcut on fol. [1]/2v with the inscription 'Mons or[ati]onis' was executed for this book, and re-used in the edition of the Zardino de Oration by Nicolaus de Ausmo (see no. 35), and later in the Fioretti by Francesco d'Assisi, printed on 11 June 1493. “Nous croyons devoir assigner à ce livre la date de 1493, attendu que la gravure qui orne le verso du 2me f., se retrouve, en 1494, dans le Zardino de oratione, s.l. & n.t.m mais privée de l'inscription gothique: mons orationis, qui se voit ici dans l'angle supérieur de gauche, et qui, étant gravée sur le bois même, suffit pour établir la priorité de cet état” (Essling 728).

Bernardinus Benalius, active in Venice since 1483, is well known for the illustrated books and popular devotional vernacular editions he produced. Between 1490 and 1491 he worked in partnership with Matteo Capsaca, and continued to print as late as 1524.

HR 11576; GW M25328; BMC V, 378; IGI 6712; Goff M-847; Essling 728; Sander 4879; A. Jacobson Schutte, Printed Italian Vernacular Religious Books (1465-1550). A Finding List, Genève 1983, p. 303; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 34.

A Masterpiece of Venetian Woodcut

37. (Benedetto Bordone). Lucianus Samosatensis (125–after 180 BC)

Vera historia. Tr: Lilius (Tifernas) Castellanus. Add: De asino aureo; Philosophorum vitae; Scipio; Tyrannus; Scaphidium (Dialogus de funerali pompa); Palinurus; Charon; Diogenes; Terpsion; Hercules; Virtus dea; In amorem; Timon; Sermo de calumnia; Laus muscae. Ed: Benedictus Bordonus; Maephus Vegius: De Felicitate et miseria. Simon Bevilaqua, for Benedetto Bordone, 25 August 1494.

4° (216x155 mm). Collation: a8, b4, c-g8, h4, i-p8. [112] leaves. Text in one column, 29 lines. Type: 5:110R. White on-black woodcut candelabra border on fol. a2r, by Benedetto Bordone. Blank spaces for capitals, with no guide letters. Later vellum over pasteboards. Smooth spine, title written vertically 'Lucianus Venice Woodcut title-border'. Binding somewhat bumped. A good copy, first leaf lightly soiled, with old repair to the outer blank margin, without any loss. A few small stains, some spots and fingermarks. The lower blank margin of fol. g7 slightly trimmed. A few early marginal and interlinear notes. On the rear pastedown, a cutting taken from an old sale catalogue describing this copy: “Fol. a2 is surrounded by a magnificent woodcut border [...] Such borders are very rare in books of small format. A very fine copy of a rare book, save for the first page, skilfully repaired”. Bibliographical notes on the front pastedown (among these '217x153. BM copy only 204x143'), and on the recto of the front flyleaf. On the rear pastedown, pencilled collation by Bernard Quaritch.

Provenance: the bibliographer Gilbert Richard Redgrave (1844-1941; ex-libris on the front pastedown, and the inscription on the recto of the front flyleaf ‘Ex libris. Gilbert R. Redgrave Thriffwood, Sydenham, London. Sept. 9th. 1914'); Wynne Rice Hugh Jeudwine (1920-1984; ex-libris on the front pastedown; see sale Bloomsbury London, 18 September 1984 Catalogue of the Important Collection of Printed Books formed by the Late W. R. Jeudwine, lot 18); Kenneth Rapoport (ex-libris on the front pastedown).

A fine copy of the rare first book edited by famous Paduan artist Benedetto Bordone (1450/55-1530). This edition represents the first official appearance of Bordone's name in Venice.

On 3 May 1494, Benedictus miniator applied for permission to print a book edited by himself, a Latin translation of Lucian's dialogues. The book was published on 25 August by Simone Bevilaqua (active in Venice between 1492 and 1506) at Bordone's expense, and his name is mentioned in a final address, composed in verse, on fol. p6r, and in the statement of privilege printed on the verso of the same leaf. In the four-verse address, Bordone invites the reader to take this book and relax among the collected stories of Lucian. It is indeed an enjoyable book, featuring widespread texts without scholarly commentaries or notes, printed in a roman type that is easy to read, and in a small quarto format, a practical prelude to the well-known Aldine octavos. The title page is framed within an exquisite woodcut all'antica border on black ground whose design is attributed to Bordone himself. This delicately refined candelabra border is a compendium of decorative motifs from classical antiquity: vases, vine leaves, and foliate branches, with the head of a 'leafy old man' at top and a Roman eagle, horns, and winged animals down below.

This woodcut border was first used, with some variants, in the 1494 Herodotus (see no. 36), and later in the Commentaria in Bibliam by Hieronymus (see no. 40). Single elements of Bordone's decorative vocabulary also find close parallel in headpieces and initials used by Aldus in the years 1495-1498.

This copy was bought in 1914 by Gilbert Richard Redgrave, son of the famous British artist Richard Redgrave and president of the Bibliographical Society of London, as well as co-editor, with Alfred W. Pollard, of A Short-Title Catalogue of Books Printed in England, Scotland, & Ireland and of English Books Printed Abroad, 1475-1640. A note on the front flyleaf written in his own hand states: 'All writers on book ornament agree in attributing the splendid border on f. a2 to the same designer as the border of the Herodotus of 1494. These two borders are the most splendid works on the early Venetian press'.

HC 1026; GW M19059; BMC V, 519; IGI 5842; Goff L-329; Flodr Lucianus, 4; Essling 747; Sander 4037; L. Armstrong, “Benedetto Bordon, 'Miniator', and Cartography in Early Sixteenth-Century Venice”, Eadem, Studies of Renaissance Miniaturists in Venice, London 2003, 2, pp. 591-643; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 37.

The Painted Page

38. Lucianus Samosatensis (ca. 125-after 180)

Διάλογοι. Lorenzo de Alopa, 1496.

Folio (330x235 mm). Collation: Α-Β8, α-ω8, αα-ηη8. 262 of [264] leaves, lacking the first and last blanks. Text in one column, 41-44 lines. Type: 5:IIIGk. Blank spaces for capitals, with no guide letters. Opening page framed in a fine and lavishly illuminated full-border, with small flowers, acanthus leaves, fruits, birds, and gold-rayed discs. At the top two cornucopias, the lower panel containing a large cartouche including a blue lion coat of arms, flanked by the gold initials 'IO' and perhaps 'M' (smudged). The right panel exquisitely painted, depicting a scholar, quite surely Lucianus himself, with long curly hair, sitting and reading a book. On the same leaf a ten-line gold initial 'a' with interlaced branches on black ground, and a portion of a portico supported by a cherub. Seventeenth-century limp vellum. Spine with five raised bands underlined by gilt fillets, compartments decorated with floral tool, title in gilt on red lettering-piece. Edges slightly speckled purple, A very good copy, with wide margins. A few early ink stains, foxing and browning in places. In the last quires pale waterstain to the lower blank margins, a few minor stains to the gutter of the two final leaves. Early inked foliation, and marginalia in Greek and Latin, in the same hand. On the front pastedown the early inked shelfmark 'A. 58.', and an erased, not legible annotation.

A magnificent example of a Florentine incunable receiving a high-quality illumination: the rare editio princeps of Lucianus' Dialogues edited by Ianos Laskaris, an absolute chef d'oeuvre of early Greek typography. It is one of the three dated editions published by Lorenzo de Alopa, the first Florentine printer to produce books in Greek, the others being the Anthologia Graeca of 1494 and the Argonautica of Apollonius Rhodius, which appeared in 1496. The text of Lucianus was set in the third Greek type cut for Alopa, a lower-case with accents and breathings, used also for the commentary surrounding Apollonius' Argonautica.

The opening leaf of the sumptuos copy presented here represents a highly original artwork, and was executed by an artist of considerable skill. The decorative pattern of the border, the particular palette of colours and tones, the illusionistic three-dimensional composition, the hair- and beard-style of the figure reading a book on the right panel – doubtless a depiction of Lucian himself – have many similarities to illuminations attributed to the miniaturist known as 'Petrus V', possibly originating from Lombardy. This artist was also active in Padua and Venice in the 1470s in the production of illuminated incunables, creating masterful illustrations for a distinguished clientele, as demonstrated by the magnificent Glasgow copy of the Breviarium Romanum printed in 1478 by Nicolaus Jenson (Glasgow University Library, B.f.1.18). From Veneto he moved to Rome, where he worked in the 1480s and 1490s, receiving several commissions from prestigious patrons for illuminating printed books.

A refined work for a refined patron: the smudged coat of arms included in the border is similar to that of the famous and wealthy Sforza family, while the capital letters painted in gold may be read as 'IO' and 'M', suggesting the possible identity of the first owner of the present copy: Giovanni Maria Sforza (d. ca. 1520), the son of Francesco, Duke of Milan. As a Protonotary Apostolic he was a member of the Roman curia, and in 1498 was appointed Archbishop of Genoa. The Elmer Belt Library of the University of California at Los Angeles preserves a single leaf from Book II of the Nicolaus Jenson edition of Pliny the Elder's Historia naturalis of 1476, whose border and first initial were possibly illuminated for Gian Galeazzo Sforza (1469-1494). In this leaf the inscription, only partially legible, 'OPVS PETRI V M' supports “the Lombard origins of this intriguing artist. The letters of Petrus' surname suggest Vimercate, the name of a town midway between Milan and Bergamo, earlier the patria of another illuminator, Guinifortus de Vicomercato” (The Painted Page, p. 178).

HC (+Add) 10258*; GW M18976; BMC VI, 667; IGI 5834; Goff L-320; Rhodes Firenze, 416; Flodr Lucianus, 1; Hoffman III, pp. 29-30; Legrand I, 19; Staikos, Charta, pp. 277-278; J. J. G. Alexander (ed.), The Painted Page. Italian Renaissance Book Illumination, London-New York 1995, pp. 178-180 (catalogues entries nos. 86-88 by L. Armstrong); M. Conway, “The Early Career of Lorenzo Alopa”, La Bibliofilia, 102 (2000), pp. 1-10; L. Armstrong, “Opus Petri: Renaissance Book Illuminations from Venice and Rome”, Eadem, Studies of Renaissance Miniaturists in Venice, London 2003, 1, pp. 339-405; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 38.

A spectacular illuminated copy

39. Hieronymus, Sophronius Eusebius (347-420)

Epistolae [Italian]. Add: Lupus de Oliveto (Olmeto): Regula monachorum ex Epistolis S. Hieronymi excerpta [Italian] De la observatione del culto de la vera religione (Tr: Mattheo da Ferrara). Laurentius de Rubeis, de Valentia, 12 October 1497.

Folio (300x206 mm). Collation: a10, b-m8, n-o6, p-r8, s6, t8, u6, x8, y-z6, &6, cum6, rum6, A-N6. [1], CCLXIX, [1] leaves. Text in two columns, 46-50 lines. Type: 6:105R. Xylographic title-page. Full-page woodcuts on fols. a2v and K3v, two four-sided borders on fols. a3r and K4r, and 161 woodcut vignettes, all illuminated by a contemporary Ferrarese artist. Vinestem illuminated initials throughout, on gold, pink, blue or green ground. Rubricated in red, blue, green, or gold. Eighteenth-century gilt-tooled calf, over pasteboards. Covers within two gilt floral friezes, large foliate tool at each inner corner of the central space. Spine with five raised bands, compartments decorated with floral motifs in gilt, title in gold on green morocco lettering-piece. Marbled pastedowns and flyleaves. Edges painted green. Extremities of the spine, and joints slightly rubbed. A very good copy, slightly foxed and spotted in places, the first two leaves somewhat browned. The gold illumination showing through slightly on the verso.

Provenance: possibly from the Ferrarese clarissan monastery of the Corpus Domini (the illuminated device in the border of fol. K4r, see below).

One of the highest achievements in print of the tradition of Ferrarese illustration, in a spectacular illuminated copy. It is also the only illustrated edition of St. Jerome's Epistolae of the fifteenth or early sixteenth centuries, and the only fifteenth-century edition in Italian vernacular. All the woodcuts are original to this edition. “The most attractive of all the Ferrarese illustrations are contained in the Epistles of St. Jerome, printed by Laurentius de Rubeis [...] Their author is evidently inspired by the 'popular' designer at Venice [...] The artist is a most conscious humorist in the wonderful variety of facial expression he gives to St. Jerome's lion, offering its naive comment on the various episodes of the saint's life. As illustrations of contemporary custom, the woodcuts in the last section of the book, dealing with the rules of monastic life, are peculiarly interesting” (A. M. Hind, An Introduction to a History of Woodcut II, p. 510). The architectural borders include elements recalling the style of the Venetian artist konwn as the Pico Master. Three hundred copies of the book were printed, 294 of which were shared by the printer and Giacomo Albertini, a Carmelite friar of the monastery of St. Paul, who paid 40 gold ducates for the paper; the six remaining copies were presentation copies, given to the court of Ercole I d'Este. In the present copy, all the borders as well as the 161 woodcuts were illuminated by a contemporary Ferrarese artist, and there are more than two hundred vinestem initials.

Further, the lower panel of illuminated border on fol. K4r – introducing the Regula monachorum ex Epistolis S. Hieronymi – includes, in a circular frame, a device depicting a calix surmounted by the holy bread: this device might be referred to the Ferrarese clarissan monastery of the Corpus Domini (also called Corpus Christi), which was of the greatest importance for the House of Este, having been over centuries the burial-place of the family, including Ercole I, while members of the house were nuns there, e.g., Eleonora, a daughter of Ercole. The Duke himself could possibly have gifted this magnificently illuminated copy to the monastery, as a sign of religious patronage.

The present copy is in the issue without – like the greatest part of the copies known – the four added preliminary leaves containing the life of St. Jerome. It also include, on fol. a2v, the large woodcut of St. Jerome writing, in some copies replaced by printed dedications respectively to Duke Ercole I, dated to 1494 (e.g., the copy, bound for Duchess of Urbino Eleonora of Aragon, passed in the Rahir sale of 1931, while another copy is now located in the Pierpont Morgan Library), to Duchess of Ferrara Eleonora and her daughter Isabella (as in the copy owned by the State Library in Munich), and to the Doge Agostino Barbarigo, both dated to 1495.

HC 8566; GW 12437; BMC VI, 614; IGI 4746; Goff H-178; G. Antonelli, Ricerche bibliografiche sulle edizioni ferraresi del secolo XV, Ferrara 1830, no. 82: A. Nuovo, Il commercio librario a Ferrara tra XV e XVI secolo, Firenze 1998, pp. 57-82; Sander 3404; A. M. Hind, An Introduction to a History of Woodcut, London 1935, 2, pp. 509-512; L. Armstrong, “The Pico Master: A Venetian Miniaturist of the Late Quattrocento”, Eadem, Studies of Renaissance Miniaturists in Venice, 1, pp. 233-338; D. De Simone, “The Woodcut in Ferrara in the Late Fifteenth Century”, R. H. Jackson - C. Z. Rothkopf (eds.), Book Talk: Essays on Books, Booksellers, Collecting, and Special Collections, New Castle, DE 2006, pp. 57-68; T. Lombardi, Gli Estensi ed il Monastero del Corpus Domini di Ferrara, Ferrara 1980; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 39.

A re-use of the magnificent Herodotus’ border

40. (Benedetto Bordone). Hieronymus, Sophronius Eusebius (347-420)

Commentaria in Bibliam. Ed: Bernardinus Gadolus. Johannes and Gregorius de Gregoriis, de Forlivio, 1497 - 25 August 1498.

Three volumes, folio (341x223mm). Collation: I. A8, <2-3>6, <4-6>6, a-c8, d10, e8, f6, g-h10, i8, k6, l-u8, x-y6. Fol. o3 signed m3. II. A-R8, S10, T-Z8, AA-BB8, CC6, DD-HH8, DDD-EEE8, FFF-HHH6, DDDD-GGGG6, HHHH4, II8, KK-LL6. III. Collation: aa-ff8, ll-ss8, tt10, vv-zz8 (yy8 blank), &&12-1, a8,b-c6, AA6, aAA8 (fol. aAA blank), BBb-PPp8, QQq6. In all 839 of [845] leaves, lacking, as usual, quire BB6, including the registrum. Text in one column, 48-61 lines. Type: 20:170G, 32*:83G, 39:82R. Large woodcut printer's device on fols. PPp8r and QQq6r. White-on-black woodcut candelabra border and fourteen-line animated initial depicting St. Jerome on fol. aAA2r. Woodcut decorated, and animated initials throughout, mostly on black ground. Late nineteenth-century quarter-mottled leather, over pasteboards. Boards covered with marbled paper. Spines with three raised bands, title lettered in gilt. Covers abraded in places; spines lightly damaged at the top. A good copy, some stains, spots, and waterstains. A few fingermarks, old repair to the upper blank leaves of the first leaf of the first volume, without any loss. Contemporary marginalia in the third volume. Modern, pencilled foliation in the upper corner of the leaves, bibliographical notes on the pastedowns and flyleaves.

Provenance: Giovanni di Maffio, San Giovanni Valdarno, Arezzo (ownership inscription dated 1532 'Di giouannj di maffio di ualdarno di sopra', on the recto of the first leaf of each volume); from the library of the Franciscan monastery St. Bonaventura al Bosco, Tuscany (ownership inscription, partly erased and dated 1545, 'Della libraria del bosco di mugello [?] da Biagio [?]', on the recto of the second leaf of the first volume, and on the first leaf of the second and third one).

This Venetian edition of Jerome – edited for the de Gregoriis brothers by Bernardinus Gadolus – contains on fol. aAA2r, around the first text-page of the Expositio in Psalterium, a re-use of one of the finest woodcut borders of the fifteenth century: the white-on-black woodcut border drawn and cut by Benedetto Bordone (1450/55-1530) for the Herodotus issued by the same printing house in 1494 (see no. 36). The latter publication contained a large woodcut depicting the Greek historian crowned by Apollo, which is replaced here with a fourteen-line animated initial showing St. Jerome at his desk. There are numerous other ornamental initials throughout the text, some of them with paired dolphins and mostly on black ground.

The present edition is a handsome example of the extraordinary imagery and inventiveness of Benedetto Bordone. He was a great protagonist of the multi-faceted world of the Venetian book; a skilful miniaturist from Padua, he learned to profit from the Venetian printing industry and was capable of re-defining and developing his artistic talent, adapting it to the newly produced printed books, and becoming, in the early sixteenth century, one of the most esteemed and sought-after designers among all the printers active in the Venetian calli and campi, with a special link to the Aldine Press (see no. 43). An erudite and versatile artist, he shared with Aldus clients, friends, and patrons, but above all a life-long passion for the ancient world and its artful transmission to their contemporaries.

H 8581*; GW 12419; BMC V, 350; IGI 4729; Goff H-160; Essling 1170; Sander 3386; L. Armstrong, “Benedetto Bordon, 'Miniator', and Cartography in Early Sixteenth-Century Venice”, Eadem, Studies of Renaissance Miniaturists in Venice, London 2003, 2, pp. 591-643; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 40.

The only known copy

42. Spirito, Lorenzo (ca. 1425-1496)

Libro de la Ventura. [Bologna, Caligola de Bazaleriis, 1498-1500].

Folio (310x250 mm). Collation: A8, B12, C8, D-E6, F4. XXXXIIII leaves (frequent misnumbering). Text on fols. C5r-F4v in two columns, 44 lines. Type: 140G (title), 1:116R (text). Elaborate full-page woodcut on fol. A2r, depicting the fortune-telling method contained within the book, with short explications. Five full-page woodcuts on fols. A2v-A4v, each depicting four seated Kings within richly decorated architectural border; on the lower panel an empty shield, on the side panel the iscription 'PIERO CIZA FE QVESTO INTAIGIO'. On fols. A5r-B6v woodcut diagrams showing the different combination of throws of the dice, and one small vignette at the centre. Full-page woodcuts on fols. B7r-C4v, depicting the spheres within a frame with floral motifs and putti. Nine-to six-line woodcut animated initials. Nineteenth-century quarter-calf, boards covered with marbled paper. Early inked title on the tail-edge (faded). Spine with three double raised bands, title 'LIBRO DE LA VENTURA BOLOGNA S.A.' lettered in gilt. Minor scratches at the covers, corners slightly worn. A very good copy, the lower margin of some leaves uncut. Minor stain on title and in the margin of some leaves; repair to A2r affecting the woodcut border; the outer margin of fols. B10 and B11 slightly short; fols. C1 and C2 lightly trimmed at the time of rebinding. Bound between the front pastedown and the front flyleaf is a cutting from an English sale catalogue describing this copy.

Provenance: Jonathan Peckover of Wisbech (1835-1882; ex-libris on the pastedown); by descent to his sister Algerina Peckover of Sibalds House, Wisbech (1841-1927; ex-libris on the pastedown; her sale, Sotheby's London, 12 December 1927); purchased in 1936 by the Florentine bookseller Tammaro De Marinis (1878-1969; see T. De Marinis, Le illustrazioni per il Libro de le Sorte di Lorenzo Spirito, p. 78, “Firenze, raccolta T. De Marinis: acquistato da Sotheby & C. di Londra nel 1936”; his letter to Charles William Dyson-Perrins (1864-1958) tipped-in at the back of this copy).

The only known copy of this Bolognese incunable edition of the first fortune-telling game ever printed, extensively illustrated as are all books of this kind.

The work was composed by the Perugian poet Lorenzo Gualtieri (usually known as Lorenzo Spirito; see no. 202), no later than 1482, the date of the original manuscript preserved in the Biblioteca Marciana in Venice (ms 6226). The first printed edition soon followed, published in Perugia in 1482, and is known in a single copy held at the Ulm Stadtbibliothek. Only three other fifteenth-century editions are recorded, these having appeared in Vicenza, Brescia, and Milan.

“The rules of the game seem designed to interpolate as many steps as possible before and after the throw of the dice which determined which of the 56 verses shall be accepted as an 'answer'. Thus the inquirer anxious to know if he will be cured of a disease is referred first to King Pharaoh, and from Pharaoh to the sign of the Ostrich. He then throws his 3 dice, and (let us say) turns up three 'aces' (eg ones). On this he is referred to the sphere of the Leopard and the River Po. These give a reference to the prophet Jonah, Verse I, and in this he finds his answer” (A.W. Pollard, Italian Book Illustration and Early Printing, A Catalogue of the Early Italian Books in the Library of C.W. Dyson Perrins, no. 187).

This undated edition of the Libro della Ventura – not recorded in ISTC – can be positively attributed to the Bolognese printer Caligola Bazalieri, who was active in the city from 1490 to 1504, and who focused his production on popular texts in Italian vernacular. Caligola employed the same roman font for his edition of the Regula of St. Jerome, which appeared in Bologna on 28 March 1498 (see GW 12466), whereas the title on the opening leaf is set in the type 140G used by him Caligola for the Lucidario printed on 15 April 1496 (see BMC vi, 837). The printing of this book can likewise be dated to the last years of the fifteenth century.

The copy offered here of this Bolognese edition is listed in Sander, and once belonged to the Italian bookseller Tammaro De Marinis, “qui a bien voulu nous communiquer cette fiche” (see Sander 7047). The De Marinis copy was considered by Sander unique, and tentatively dated to the “début du XVIème siècle”. Another revealing clue for the possible dating of this Bolognese publication is in the inscription 'PIERO CIZA FE QVESTO INTAIGIO', visible on the columnar borders framing the plates on fols. A2r-A4r, and implying that the block cutter Pietro Ciza had been responsible for the remaining illustrations as well. The name of Ciza (also known as Cisa, or Chiesa) is also found in a Bologna Calendario of 1493 and in the famous Viazo da Vanesia al sancto Jherusalem (1500). The same blocks were re-used, mostly in reduced size, in the Libro della Ventura printed in Bologna in 1508 by Justiniano de Rubeira, whose unique and incomplete copy is in the Biblioteca Marciana. “La più antica delle edizioni bolognesi note deve essere quella senza data, impressa con i caratteri di Caligula Bazalieri [...] Essa era rimasta fino ad oggi sconosciuta e l'esemplare apparso alla vendita Sotheby è probabilmente unico. L'illustrazione, rozzamente incisa, è opera di un artista che si fa conoscere; infatti ai quattro lati dei fregi che ornano le cinque tavole dei re (carte 2 verso 4 verso) si legge: 'PIERO CIZA FE QVESTO INTAIGIO'. Queste parti firmate (collocate però in senso inverso ad alcune altre figure) sono adoperate anche nella edizione di Giustiniano Ribeira del 1508” (T. De Marinis, “Le illustrazioni per il Libro de le Sorte di Lorenzo Spirito”, p. 72).

In addition, the copy has a tipped-in letter at the back from Tammaro De Marinis - dated on 10 August 1935, and addressed to the great collector Charles William Dyson-Perrins, asking for details about two other editions “de l'ouvrage de Lorenzo Spirito dont Vous possédez deux éditions, de 1501 et 1508 (nos. 157 et 187 de Votre catalogue)”.

Sander 7047; T. De Marinis, “Le illustrazioni per il Libro de le Sorte di Lorenzo Spirito”, Idem, Appunti e ricerche bibliografiche, Milano 1940, pp. 67-83 (describing this copy, see pp. 71-72, 78, and pls. CXI-CXV); S. Urbini, Il Libro delle sorti di Lorenzo Spirito Gualtieri, Modena 2006; A. Rosenstock, Das Losbuch des Lorenzo Spirito von 1482: eine Spurensuche, Weißenhorn 2010; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 42.


54. [Cinderella]. Geiler von Kaysersberg, Johannes (1445-1510)

Das irrig Schaf. Sagt von kleinmuetikeit und verzweiflung... mit sampt den nachvolgenden tractaten.... Matthias Schürer, [ca. 1510].

Seven parts in one volume in small 4o (196x139 mm). Collation: A8, B-C4, D8, E-F4, G6, H4; a8, b-c4, d8, e4, f6; aa6, bb8, cc-dd4, ee8; Aa6, Bb8, Cc6, Dd4 (Dd2 signed Dd3), Ee4, Ff8; (a-(b8, (c-(d6; (A6, (B4; AA4, BB6, CC4, DD4, EE6. [204] leaves, complete with all five blank leaves (fols H4, ee8, (d6, (B4, and EE6). Gothic type. Title and six sectional titles with woodcuts. Blank spaces for capitals, with printed guide letters. First five quires rubricated in red, Lombard initials painted in red, in a contemporary hand. Contemporary blind-stamped, pink-stained half pigskin and wooden boards. One brass clasp, lacking the tip of the catch. Spine with three double raised bands. The lower wooden board slightly wormed. A good copy, small repair to the upper margin of the first leaf. Some wormholes mostly to the outer margin, occasionally affecting partial letters but not legibility. The woodcut is slightly offset on the separate title-pages. Some contemporary Latin marginalia, in an early hand, and a note on the verso of the front flyleaf, no longer legible.

Provenance: Arthur and Charlotte Vershbow, acquired from Gilhofer & Ranschberg, 1983 (ex-libris on the front pastedown; see The Collection of Arthur & Charlotte Vershbow, Christie's New York, 9-10 April 2013, lot 186).

First edition of seven small tracts adapted into German by the Swiss-born Johannes Geiler von Kaysersberg, preacher at the Strasbourg Cathedral, from the moral sermons of theologian Jean Gerson (1363-1429) whose works he had edited from 1488 to 1502. Geiler “was a populariser rather than an original thinker and, as such, an ideal diffuser of Gerson's thought. [...] Geiler's preference to translate almost exclusively Gerson's works addressed to simple people ‘sans lettres' rather than his learned scholastic treatises, also reflects his priorities as a parish priest dealing with daily needs of ordinary people” (Y. Mazour-Matusevich, “Jean Gerson's Legacy in Tübingen and Strasbourg”, p. 264).

The Strasbourg edition contains one of the earliest printed versions of the enormously popular fairy tale of Cinderella, included here under the title Der Eschen Grüdel, Von den anfaßenden möenschen in dem gots dienst, and considered a forerunner of the Aschenputtel by the Brothers Grimm. Each of the seven short treatises in this collection is introduced by a sectional title bearing a woodcut vignette; the woodcut on the title of Der Eschen Gründel depicts an unhappy young girl by a fireplace and is indeed considered one of the earliest illustrations of Cinderella herself, the protagonist of that celebrated fable.

The other treatises include Das irrig Schaf (a significantly enlarged version of Gerson's De remediis), Der Hellisch Low, Die Christenlich Künigin, Der dreieckecht Spiegel, Das Klappermaul, and Der Trostspiegel. The woodcut on the title of Der dreieckecht is signed with the letters 'H G', a monogram which has tentatively been attributed to different artists active in Strasbourg at that time, such as Hans Baldung Grien, Hans Grüninger, and Hieronymus Greff.

Adams G-320; VD16 G-764; STC German 335; Panzer, Annalen 670; Ritter Repertoire, 1078; Schmidt 43; P. Kristeller, Die Strassburger Bücher-Illustration im XV. und im Anfange des XVI. Jahrhunderts, Leipzig 1988, *528; L. Dacheux Die ältesten Schriften Geilers, Freiburg i.B. 1882, p. 47; R. Muther, German Book Illustration of the Gothic Period and the Early Renaissance (1460-1530), Metuchen, NJ, 1972, p. 194; Y. Mazour-Matusevich, “Jean Gerson's Legacy in Tübingen and Strasbourg”. The Medieval History Journal, 13 (2010), pp. 259-286; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 54.

The first book printed in the Ge’ez language

55. [Bible. Old Testament. Psalms. Ethiopic]

Psalterium David et Cantica aliqua. Marcello Silber for Johannes Potken, 30 June - 10 September 1513.

4° (225x160 mm). Collation: [1-128, 13-146]. [108] leaves. Ethiopic and roman type. Printed in black and red. On the recto of the first leaf full-page woodcut showing David crowned, with a harp in his hand and framed within a candelabra and floral border signed 'S C'. Woodcut headings and initials printed in red throughout; woodcut head-pieces in knotwork pattern, likewise in red. Contemporary, probably French, elaborately blind-tooled brown calf, over pasteboards. Covers within multiple fillets, and a large roll with interlaced foliate motifs and acorn tools. The centre panel tooled with two vertical candelabra rolls, and a central smaller strip with bee-shaped tools. Traces of four pairs of ties, one at head and tail, as well as two at the fore-edge. Spine with four raised bands, skilfully rebacked. Gutter reinforced with a leaf from a parchment manuscript. Very good copy; old repair to the blank outer margin of the first leaf; small repaired wormholes on the last leaf. Minor waterstains to the first and last leaves. Covers abraded in places, corners slightly bumped. The number '60' written by an early hand on the upper outer corner of the title-page. Pencilled bibliographical notes in French on the recto of the front flyleaf, 'Psalterium Premier livre en ethiopien'.

Provenance: Gabriele da Casale, capuchin of the Province of Genoa, named in 1622 General Commissar (ownership inscription on the front pastedown, 'Questa Cantica è stata mandata da Genoua dal P. Gabriele di Casale Prouinciale de Capucini, anno 1606. mensis Nouemb').

Very rare first edition of the first book printed in the Ge'ez language or Ethiopic – and the first book of the Bible printed in an Eastern language other than the original Hebrew – edited by German churchman and papal protonotary Johann Potken (ca. 1470 - ca. 1525), who also published it at his own expense. The book contains the Psalter, Biblical hymns, and the Song of Solomon, alongside basic notions on the Etiophic language, misleadingly considered here a version of Chaldean. “Of interest is the typographical care Potken has taken to represent the short a by a lower case letter a with the ascender filed off, and the long o with a character resembling the lower case omega” (Smitskamp III, 233).

Potken had learned this language from the abbot Thomas Walda Samuel, member of the Ethiopian Christian community of the church of Saint Stephen of the Abyssinians, and had become fascinated with the liturgy and culture. “Potken describes in his preface how he had heard Ethiopian strangers in Rome reciting sacred hymns, in which he recognized the names of the Blessed Virgin, the Apostles and certain Saints. Aroused by curiosity he determined to learn Ethiopic – which he calls lingua Chaldea – and eventually succeeded in mastering enough of the language to enable him to publish this edition in the native character” (Darlow & Moule).

For this publishing initiative, Potken borrowed an Ethiopic Psalter manuscript from the Vatican Library (Vat. Etiop. 20) and commissioned the cutting of types in Ge'ez script to Marcellus Silber, a printer from Regensburg engaged by the Curia. The fruit of this collaboration is one of the finest liturgical books printed in Rome. The text is printed in red and black, and opens with a handsome woodcut within a border, stamped in red and signed with the monogram 'S C', depicting the traditional image of King David playing on the harp and singing psalms.

Adams B-1481; STC Italian 99; Tinto, Annali Silber, 157; Fumagalli, Bibliografia Etiopica, p. 353; Bohatta II, 376; Darlow & Moule 3560; Nagler IV, 3990; Smitskamp III, 233; Fact and Fantasy 17; Sander 5942; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 55.

An illuminated octavo Juntine

56. Seneca, Lucius Annaeus (ca. 4 BC - 65 AD)

Senecae Tragoediae. Florence, Filippo Giunta, July 1513. (bound with:) Euripides (480-406 BC) Hecuba et Iphigenia in Aulide Euripidis tragoediae in Latinum tralatae [sic] Erasmo Roterodamo interprete.... Filippo Giunta’s heirs, December 1518.

Two works in one volume, 8° (165x103 mm). I: Collation: a-z8, &8, A-D8. [8], 215, [1] leaves. Complete with fol. D8 blank. Roman and italic type. Fol. a2 (opening of the preface) is decorated with a large initial in gold and blue, a floral frame surrounding the text in blue, red, green, and gold, and at the bottom, within a circular frame, unidentified coat of arms (presumably Florentine), featuring two red lions or leopards on gold ground separated by an oblique red band. II: Collation: [1-4]8, a-i8. [80] leaves. Roman and italic type.

Woodcut Giunta device on the verso of the last leaf. Blank spaces for capitals, with printed guide letters. Contemporary blind-tooled calf, over pasteboards. Spine with two raised bands, panels divided by a thick frame into two square compartments decorated with a circular pattern at the centre, geometric motifs at the corners. The corners of the upper cover's corners and extremities of spine skilfully repaired, traces of metal ornament pieces and ties. Very good, genuine copy with wide margins. Small round hole in the first four leaves and on the last leaf slightly affecting the text; some staining and soiling.

A fine miscellany, in its contemporary binding, containing two rare Juntine editions.

The volume opens with Seneca's tragedies, a substantial reprint of the edition first published by Filippo Giunta in 1506 and edited by Benedetto Riccardini. As in 1506, the edition is dedicated to Domenico Benivieni and contains a short biography of Seneca, taken from the Pietro Crinito's De poetis Latinis.

The second bound edition is the Euripides of 1516, containing the Latin translation of the Hecuba and Iphigenia Aulidensis by the outstanding humanist Erasmus of Rotterdam, first issued from the Venetian printing house of Aldus Manutius in 1507. The Juntine reprint is introduced with a preface by Antonio Francini, the most productive of the editors active for the Giunti press in the first half of the sixteenth century. The original dedicatory epistle from Erasmus to William Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury, follows. “Francini's first editorial work for Bernardo after Filippo's death was the 1518 edition of the Historiae of Herodian, in the Latin translation by Poliziano. In the same year he edited Bernardo's printing of the 1507 Aldine edition of Euripides' Hecuba and Iphigenia in Aulide. [...] Presumably this would have been a legal reprint, for Manuzio's ten-year privilege had ended” (Pettas, The Giunti of Florence, p. 34). The copy is presented here in the issue bearing the misprint 'tralatae' on the title-page.

The opening leaf of the first edition is finely illuminated, and includes the coat of arms of an unidentified (and perhaps Florentine) owner, painted as usual in the lower margin.

I. STC Italian 621; Renouard Alde, XXXVII, 42; Camerini Annali, 42; Pettas 53. II. Adams E-1047; STC Italian 239; Renouard Alde, XLIII.6; Camerini Annali, 111; Pettas 122; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 56.

A reversal of del Tuppo’s celebrated Hercules and Antaeus lunette

58. Vipera, Giovanni Mercurio (1426-1527)

De divino et vero numine apologeticon. Rome, Marcellus Silber, 1514-1515. (bound with:) Idem. De disciplinarum virtutumque Laudibus opusculum. Rome, Etienne Guillery, 14 September 1515. (bound with:) Idem. Orationes. Rome, Etienne Guillery and Ercole Nani, 30 September 1514. (bound with:) Idem. Oratio [de justiciae laudibus]. [Rome, Johannes Beplin, ca. 1513].

Four works in one volume, 4° (198x130 mm). I. Six parts. Collation: a-b4, c6; a-d4; a-b4, c6 ; a-c4; a-b4, c6; a-f4. [94] leaves. Roman type. Each part with separate title-page within a fine woodcut compartment of floral design on black ground. II. Collation: A-T4. [76] leaves. Roman and gothic type. Title-page within woodcut border on black ground from the celebrated del Tuppo Aesop of 1485. Blank spaces for capitals, with printed guide letters. III. Collation: A-H4. [32] leaves. Roman type. One woodcut decorated initial on fol. A1v. IV. [a]4. [4] leaves. Roman type. Title-page within a beautiful portico on white ground, two rounded pillars at sides and long tassels hanging down from a flat-topped entablature (slightly trimmed at the upper panel).

Sixteenth century brown calf over pasteboards, likely executed by a Spanish binder. Covers within blind fillets, floral tool at each corner. At the centre, an unidentified coat of arms in gilt, with the Roman numerals 'XVI' and initials 'CJ'. Neatly rebacked in the nineteenth century, gilt-tooled spine with five raised double bands; title lettered in gold. Covers slightly rubbed. A very fine copy, ruled in red throughout. Minor foxing and browning in places. Early manuscript index on front flyleaf of the volume.

Provenance: early illegible signature on the upper margin of the first title-page; Charles Spencer, Earl of Sunderland (1674-1722; see Bibliotheca Sunderlandiana. Sale Catalogue of the truly important and very extensive library of printed books known as the Sunderland or Blenheim library, 1 December 1881, lot 13036, 'woodcut titles, old calf with arms on sides'); the English politician Charles Butler, esq. of Warren Wood Hatfield (1821-1910; ex-libris; his sale at Sotheby's 29 May 1911, The first portion of the extensive and valuable library of the late Charles Butler, esq. of Warren Wood, Hatfield, and Connaught Place); Arthur & Charlotte Vershbow, acquired from Lathrop C. Harper, 1973 (see The Collection of Arthur & Charlotte Vershbow, Christie's New York 2013, lot 340).

A fine miscellaneous volume, containing four very rare Roman editions. Vipera of Benevento was a learned man and for many years auditor at the Papal Court. He was slain by a plundering soldier in the Sack of Rome in 1527. Most of his writings are short orations, all beautifully printed by the most renowned Roman presses of the time, especially by the French printer Etienne Guillery, who, between 1510 and 1514/15, printed in partnership with Ercole Nani from Bologna. The final edition issued by the firm 'Magister Stephanus et Magister Hercules socii' was precisely Vipera's Orationes, in 1514-1515.

For the title-page of the second work bound here, De disciplinarum virtutumque Laudibus opusculum, Guillery used a woodcut border that included the figures of Hercules and Antaeus in the upper panel, a scene which is a reverse copy of the border used by Francesco del Tuppo for his famous Aesop issued in Naples in 1485 (see A. M. Hind, An Introduction to a History of Woodcut, II, pp. 405-407). The title-border was also used by the French printer for the Suma de arithmetica by Juan de Ortega, likewise published in 1515. The last work bound in the volume was probably issued by the enigmatic printer Johannes Beplin, who printed mostly anonymously, and possibly for other printers active in Rome. His production is limited to bulls, orations, and other short texts.

The volume is presented in a handsome near contemporary binding with interesting but unidentified arms, possibly executed by a Spanish bookbinder. In a letter dated August 1945, Geoffrey Dudley Hobson writes that various people called 'Jacobs' in the Spanish Netherlands used very similar arms. It has not been possible to discover the identity of its earliest owner, but the subsequent provenance is highly distinguished: the earliest recorded owner of this fine volume was Charles Spencer, Earl of Sunderland. The extensive Bibliotheca Sunderlandiana was sold in London in 1881.

I. Tinto Annali, no. 111; Sander 7629. II. Adams V-843; Mortimer Italian, 542; Isaacs 12088; Sander 7631; F. Barberi, Tipografi romani del Cinquecento, p. 52. III. Isaacs 12159. IV. Adams V-847; STC Italian 729; Isaacs 12159; Sander 7635. For the activity of the printer Etienne Guillery, see Norton, Italian Printers, pp. 98-100; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 58.

The first illustrated Aldine Dante counterfeited by a Venetian printer

61. Alighieri, Dante (1265-1321)

Le terze rime di Dante con sito, et forma de lo Inferno novamente in restampito. [Venice, Gregorio de’ Gregori, after August 1515].

8° (156x97 mm). Collation: [π]2, a-z8, A-H8. 248 of [250] leaves, wanting fols. H7 and H8 blanks, but including the blank l2, often lacking. Italic and roman type. Blank spaces for capitals, with printed guide letters, at the beginning of each cantica. One double-page woodcut depicting the Sito et forma della valle inferna (fols. H4v-H5r), two full-page woodcut diagrams showing the categories of sins punished in Hell (fols. H5v-H6r), and in Purgatory (fol. H6v). Seventeenth-century vellum, over pasteboards. Smooth spine, edges speckled pale blue, the head-edge darkened. A good copy, the first two leaves repaired to the gutter and re-mounted. The lower blank margin of some quires slightly waterstained. Small ink stain to the outer upper corner of the central quires, repairs to the corners of the leaves containing the woodcuts, without any loss.

Provenance: from the library of the Carmelite convent St. Teresa in Turin (early ownership inscription on the title-page, 'Ex libris Bibl. Carm. Discalceatorum Conventus Sanctae Teresiae Taurini'); the American Egyptologist Charles Edwin Wilbour (1883-1896; stamp on the upper margin of some leaves).

The rare, nearly contemporary counterfeit of the first Aldine Commedia to be illustrated, issued in August 1515, and intriguingly reflects – as evinced by the woodcut depiction of the Sito et forma della valle inferna – a historical vogue for measuring and mapping Hell.

The counterfeited volume appeared only a few months after the original Aldine edition. It was issued entirely anonymously, without date or printer's device; however, since Colomb de Batines, the printing has generally been attributed to Gregorio de' Gregori, the printer originating from Forlì who was active in Venice between 1480 and 1528, and who often worked in partnership with his brothers Giovanni and Bernardino Stagnino. The volume closely adheres to the text, layout, and illustrative apparatus of the Aldine Dante, except for the title printed on the first leaf, in which the original Dante col sito, et forma dell'inferno tratta dalla istessa descrittione del poeta is changed to Le terze rime di Dante con sito, et forma de lo Inferno novamente in restampito, recalling the title of the first Aldine Commedia printed in 1502 (see no. 46). On fol. b4r, line 55 of Canto v of the Inferno is also incorrectly indented.

This counterfeit gives further, striking evidence of the success of the Aldine Commedia printed in the portable octavo size and set in italic type, despite the warning against unauthorized reprinting in the colophon of the Dante of 1502, or the privilege granted by the Venetian Senate. Even after Aldus' death in February 1515, the volumes produced by the printing press now run by his father-in-law, Andrea Torresano, maintained a certain level of charm and continued to be counterfeited by other printers.

STC Italian 209; Batines I, pp. 75-76; Mambelli 25; Martini, pp. 29-30; Koch 7; Sander 2322; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 61.

The Dantino Paganini’s ‘long 24mo’ format

62. Alighieri, Dante (1265-1321)

Dante col sito, et forma dell’Inferno. [Venice, Alessandro Paganini, ca. 1516].

24° (95x47 mm). Collation: A-X8, AA-DD8, EE4. 202, [2] leaves. Italic and gothic type. Blank spaces for capitals at the beginning of each cantica. One double-page woodcut plan of Hell (fols. EE2v-EE3r), three full-page woodcut diagrams of categories of sins punished in Hell (fols. EE3v-EE4r), and in Purgatory (fol. EE4v). Early nineteenth-century three-quarter green morocco, marbled covers. Spine with two small raised bands, decorated with narrow frieze, author's name lettered in gilt. In a green half-morocco case. A good copy. One small wormhole at the gutter of the first leaf, affecting a few letters. Minor repair to the gutter of fol. A8, quires C-E waterstained. The lower margins of the woodcuts slightly trimmed.

Provenance: 'Di Bern. Capiri in dono' (old ownership inscription on the title-page).

The exceedingly rare Paganini edition of the Commedia – the first edition printed in the innovative long 24° format – presented here in the state with leaves numbered with arabic numerals, except for fols. IX, X, and XV. It is the smallest printed Commedia of the Renaissance, known as the Dantino. The volume is part of the series begun by Paganini in the same year, which opens with Petrarch's Rime, Bembo's Asolani (see no. 60), and Sannazaro's Arcadia, all dedicated by the printer to pre-eminent contemporaries and patrons. This edition was addressed by the printer to no less than the cardinal Giulio de' Medici, who, in 1523, became Pope Clement VII. The date is not present in the book, but it belongs to the period before Paganini's move to Toscolano.

The last three leaves contain a double-page and three full-page woodcuts, all appearing here for the first time. The double-page woodcut, showing the plan of Hell, is signed by the engraver 'I.A.', possibly the Venetian artist and cartographer Giovanni Andrea Vavassore, also known as Guadagnino.

“It is believed that Bembo was active with publishers in Venice at his time. According to his friend Trifon Gabriele, Bembo was responsible for the analysis of the structure in Paganini's 1515 edition of Dante and therefore, presumably, of the structurel analyses of all three realms in Aldus's Dante, also of 1515. It has been suggested that Paganini pirated the tree of sins which Bembo drew for Aldus. However Bembo and Paganini seem to have been on good terms since Paganini republished Gli Asolani in 1515, in his new and elegant pocket book size collection of Latin and Italian classics [...] Although his copyright had expired after ten years, Aldus reprinted Gli Asolani himself, also in 1515” (C. Kidwell, Pietro Bembo. Lover, Linguist, Cardinal, Montreal-London 2004, p. 183).

Adams D-337; STC Italian 209; Nuovo, Alessandro Paganino (1509-1538), Padova 1990, no. 28; R. Sturel. “Recherches sur une collection in -32 publié en Italie au début du XVie siècle”, Revue des Livres anciens, 1 (1913), pp. 50-73: 57; Batines i, pp. 77-24; Mambelli 26; Essling 540-541; Sander 2323-2324; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 62.

The Fairfaix Murray, Martini, Olschki, Brunschwig, and Berès copy

65. Forti, Girolamo (d. 1489)

Inamoramento de’ Rinaldo de monte Albano et diuerse ferocissime battaglie leq[ua]le fece lardito et francho Paladino et come occise Ma[m]brino di Leuante et moltissimi forti pagani.... Giovanni Tacuino, 8 August 1517.

4° (214x158 mm). Collation: a-y8, z4. [180] leaves, complete with the last leaf blank. Gothic and roman type. Text in two columns. On the title-page, a large woodcut medallion portrait of Rinaldo on horseback. Numerous woodcut vignettes in text, some on black ground. Nineteenth-century red morocco over pasteboards, signed on the front pastedown by Georges Trautz-Bauzonnet (1808-1879). Covers within triple gilt fillet. Spine with five raised bands, compartments gilt tooled, title lettered in gilt. Marbled pastedowns and flyleaves, inside dentelles. Blue silk bookmark, gilt edges. A fine, well-margined copy. Title-page and a few leaves slightly browned, minor loss to the lower blank margin of fol. N4, not affecting the text.

Provenance: Charles Fairfax Murray (1849-1919; see A List of Printed Books in the Library of Charles Fairfax Murray, [London] 1907, p. 199); Giuseppe Martini (1870-1944); Leo S. Olschki (Rome, 15 April 1927); Sylvain S. Brunschwig (ex-libris; see sale Nicolas Rauch, Bibliothèque Sylvain S. Brunschwig: Incunables et seizième siècle, Genève, 28-30 March 1955, lot 259); Pierre Berès.

Very rare edition of the Italian translation in verses – attributed to Teramo humanist Girolamo Forti – of the story of Renaud de Montauban, part of the French cycle of the Quatre fils of Aymon of Dordogne. This chivalric poem was first composed in Alexandrine verse in the thirteenth century, and the narrative of the adventures and exploits of Rinaldo da Montalbano enjoyed ever-increasing popularity in Italy from the late fourteenth century, where it developed in different versions, both in verse and in prose. “Renaissance Italians loved chivalric romances as much or more than any other European people [...] Soon Italian minstrels dressed Roland and Charlemagne in Italian armor. Then they created new knights and maidens to accompany the heroes of Roncisvalle, and sent all of them forth on an endless road of adventure” (P. Grendler, “Form and Function of Italian Renaissance Popular Books”, p. 472). Rinaldo's story appeared first in print in Naples in about 1475. Numerous editions followed in the earliest decades of the sixteenth century, generally of extraordinary rarity and mostly known through a single copy.

The edition of 1517 is based on the Rinaldo issued by the Venetian Melchiorre Sessa in 1515, from which is also derived the fine woodcut printed on the title-page as well as most of the vignettes in the text. The present copy is exceptionally complete. In fact, the only other traceable copy of the Tacuino publication, which once belonged to Essling and Bonfiglioli, is preserved in the Yale University Library and is lacking two leaves. The copy listed by Melzi and Tosi – bound with the Bindoni edition of Pietro Durante's Leandra (1517) – was later offered by the Parisian bookseller Edwin Tross (1822-1875) in his Catalogue no. 19 for the sum of 300 francs (no. 2532) and has since then disappeared.

Melzi-Tosi, p. 256; Essling 1859; Sander 6496; N. Harris, “Marin Sanudo, Forerunner of Melzi”, La Bibliofilia, 95 (1993), pp. 1-37, 101-145, 96 (1994), pp. 15-42; E. Melli (ed.), I cantari di Rinaldo da Monte Albano, Bologna 1973, esp. pp. XXXII-XXXIV; E. Melli, “Nella selva dei 'Rinaldi'. Poemetti su Rinaldo da Mont'Albano in antiche edizioni a stampa”, Studi e problemi di critica testuale, 16 (1978), pp. 193-215; G. Petrella, À la chasse au bonheur. I libri ritrovati di Renzo Bonfiglioli e altri episodi di storia del collezionismo italiano del Novecento, Firenze 2016, pp. 165-166 (mentioning this copy as lost); P. Grendler, “Form and Function in Italian Renaissance Popular Books”, Idem, Studies in Medieval and Renaissance History, Brookfield, VT 1995, pp. 451-485; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 65.

Franchinus Gafurius laudensis Regius musicus corteque mediolanensis phonascus Amico Ambatiae, Viro honoratissimo

68. Gaffurio, Franchino (1421-1522)

Franchini Gafurii Laudensis Regii Musici publice profitentis: De lubrique Mediolanensis Phonasci: de Harmonia Musicorum Instrumentorum Opus.... Gottardo da Ponte, 27 November 1518.

Folio (299x206 mm). Collation: a4, A-M8, N6. [4], c, [2] leaves. Roman and gothic type. Woodcut printer's device on the verso of the last leaf. Large woodcut vignette on the title-page (137x115mm), depicting the author lecturing to students with the caption 'Harmonia est discordia concors', and the long inscription on the edge of the block 'FRAN. GAFVRI[VS]. LAVDEN. TRIA DE MVSICIS VOLUMINA. THEORICAM. AC PRACTICAM. ET HARMONIAM. INSTRUMENTOR[VM] ACCVRATISSIME C[ON]SCRIPSI'. Woodcut coat of arms, in a medallion, of the dedicatee Jean Grolier on fol. a4v. On fol. N6v another large woodcut portrait of Gaffurio (202x102mm) playing the organ. Sixty diagrams, some of which are full-page, the one on fol. H8v depicting eight figures playing various musical instruments. Full-page woodcut on fol. M6v with an allegory of music, showing its derivation from Apollo, the Muses, and celestial bodies. Musical examples printed from blocks on fol. M1v; mathematical examples in the margins. Numerous woodcut decorated and animated initials in several sizes, some on black ground. Contemporary limp vellum. Smooth spine, with traces of inked title at the top. Loss to the lower portion of the spine. In a modern marbled box. A very beautiful copy, a few quires uniformly browned. An early hand has annotated 'Musurgia' on the rear pastedown. A typewritten description of this copy is tipped in on the recto of the front flyleaf.

Provenance: possibly gifted by Gaffurio to Leonardo da Vinci (Gaffurio's autograph inscription on the recto of the first leaf 'Franchinus Gafurius laudensis Regius musicus / corteque mediolanensis phonascus / Amico Ambatiae, Viro honoratissimo'); Leonardo's servant, Batista de Vilanis (ownership inscription on the recto of the front flyleaf, partly inked out, 'Batta de Vilano'); from the library of the Abbey of Saint-Julien, at Tours, France (ownership inscription on the front pastedown, 'Pertinet ad Monasterium Sancti Juliani Turonensis').

An exceptional presentation copy of the rare first edition of one of the most famous music treatises of the Renaissance. The volume bears a dedication, in Gaffurio's own hand, to ' Amico Ambatiae, Viro honoratissimo', i.e., 'his friend in Amboise', possibly one of the greatest artists of all time: Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519).

De harmonia musicorum instrumentorum is the last and most elaborate work published by Gaffurio. Possibly composed around 1500, the treatise deals – as its title reads – with the harmony of musical instruments, and was dedicated by the author to the outstanding bibliophile and patron of the arts Jean Grolier, who was then active in Milan as treasurer of the French army. This edition is rightly famous for its fine illustrative apparatus, including two famous woodcut portraits of Gaffurio, the first of which is printed on the title-page, as a re-use of the block employed by Gottardo da Ponte in 1508 for Gaffurio's Angelicum ac divinum opus musice.

For the second portrait printed at the end of the volume a block first cut for another work by Gaffurio, the Theoricum opus musice discipline (Naples 1490), was re-used. The numerous diagrams and initials supplementing the text were designed by the refined French artist Guillaume Le Signerre, who was born in Rouen and active in Milan and later in Saluzzo (Piedmont).

Beyond the rarity and beauty of this Milanese edition, the most significant and valuable aspect of the present copy undoubtedly lies in the extraordinary story narrated by its provenance, particularly the inscription 'Franchinus Gafurius laudensis Regius musicus / corteque mediolanensis phonascus / Amico Ambatiae, Viro honoratissimo'.

In fact, the formulation used here by Gaffurio – ' Amico Ambatiae', i.e., 'to my most excellent friend in Amboise' – suggests that this copy of the De harmonia musicorum instrumentorum was presented by him as a gift to none other than Leonardo da Vinci. Numerous features appear to confirm this hypothesis. When this volume was published on 27 November 1518, Leonardo was indeed in Amboise (the Latin name for which is 'Ambacia') along with his pupil Francesco Melzi and his loyal servant, Batista de Vilanis, who was mentioned in Leonardo's will, dated 23 April 1519. As the book was printed at the end of 1518, it is possible that Leonardo, who died at the beginning of the following year, never saw the copy, even if his friend had sent it to him. Thus the butler Batista de Vilanis would have taken possession of the volume, signing it with his name 'Batta de Vilano' on the front flyleaf. Later, the book – as evinced by the later ownership inscription – came into the possession of the nearby Abbey of Saint-Julien at Tours.

Gaffurio's close relationship with Leonardo amidst the intellectual elite of the Sforza Court is well documented, and it is also very likely that Leonardo used to visit Gaffurio's rich personal library in Milan. The present copy of De harmonia musicorum instrumentorum not only places striking emphasis on this friendship, but also offers a crucial clue toward confirming the hypothesis that the man portrayed by Leonardo in his celebrated 'Portrait of a Musician' – the identity of whom has long been debated – was actually the maestro di cappella Gaffurio.

Adams G-14; Mortimer Italian, 204; Balensuela-Williams, pp. 75-76; Sander 2989; Santoro, Libri illustrati milanesi, 164; G. Cesari, “Musica e musicisti alla Corte sforzesca”, F. Malaguzzi Valeri, La corte di Ludovico il Moro, IV (1923), p. 210; M. Coleman, Amboise et Léonard da Vinci à Amboise, Tours 1932; F. Fano, “Vita e attività del musico teorico e pratico Francino Gaffurio da Lodi”, Arte Lombarda, 15/2 (1970), pp. 49-62; F. Russoli, “Ritratto di Musico”, Leonardo. La pittura, Firenze 1985, pp. 63-65; C. Pedretti – M. Melani (eds.), Leonardo da Vinci & France, Poggio a Caiano 2010; W. K. Kreyszig, “The Significance of Iconography in the Print Culture of the Late-Fifteenth-Century Music Theoretical Discourse. The Theoricum opus musice discipline (1480) and Theorica musice (1492) of Franchino Gaffurio in the Context of his Trilogy”, Music in Art, 35 (2010), pp. 53-70; M. T. Fiorio, “Leonardo's 'Portrait of a Musician' and some Reflections on his Milanese Workshop”, M. Menu (ed.), Leonardo da Vinci's Technical Practice, Paris 2014, pp. 152-161; L. Fagnart – H. Miesse, “Perché havemo bisogno ancora de maestro Leonardo. Léonard de Vinci au service de Charles II Chaumont d'Amboise”, Raccolta Vinciana, 36 (2015), pp. 47-76; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 68.

Title-page printed in red within a blue floral-patterned woodcut frame

73. Leone, Ambrogio (1459-1525)

Nouum opus quęstionum seu problematum ut pulcherrimorum ita utilissimorum tum aliis plerisque in rebus cognoscendis tum maxime in philosophia & medicina scientia. Bernardino and Matteo Vitali, 28 August 1523.

Folio (314x216 mm). Collation: a4, A-P4. [64] leaves. Complete with the last blank. Roman type. Title-page printed in red within woodcut floral-patterned border stamped in blue ink. Woodcut printer's device on fol. P3v. Fine contemporary limp vellum. On the upper cover the title 'AMBROSII NOLANI PROBLEMATA', inked in capital letters within a frame composed of four concentric circles. Smooth spine, the title inked vertically in gothic type. Traces of ties. Binding slightly loose. A handsome, unsophisticated copy.

Provenance: early ownership inscription on the title-page, almost illegible.

The exceedingly rare first and only edition of this collection of miscellaneous observations by the physician, mathematician, historian, and philosopher Ambrogio Leone, originating from Nola (near Naples), and active in the Aldine printing house as a proof-reader. The work collects numerous quaestiones naturales and deals with a wide range of topics in philosophy, science, and medicine, including the first description of syphilis ever to be published, seven years before the appearance in 1530 of the poem Syphilis, sive De morbo gallico by Girolamo Fracastoro. Leone was already at work on this collection in 1507-1508, while collaborating with Aldus Manutius and Erasmus of Rotterdam. The work is considered one of the earliest 'libri de secreti' to appear in print. “In 1523, in order to satisfy his passion for miscellaneous observations, Ambrogio Leone also printed in Venice one of the first 'libri di segreti': this was his Opus quaestionum [...], on which he was already at work while collaborating with Erasmus in 1507-08, but which, as usual with Ambrogio, matured very slowly and was only printed in 1523 [...] It is important to notice that questions like the first one – why Bacchus is represented with horns and a beard – call to mind Polizianus' Miscellanea, the various Castigationes, the Adagia of Erasmus as well as many collections of proverbs and emblems inspired by these works” (P. Zambelli, “A Nolan before Bruno, Momus and Socratism in the Renaissance”, pp. 258-259).

This Venetian edition includes an exceptional feature in the context of early Italian Renaissance printing: on the title-page the title's lines are printed in red within a fine woodcut floral-patterned border stamped in blue ink. This exquisite woodcut frame shows a continuous design in four parts, and first appeared, stamped in black, in the illustrated Vitruvius of 1511 printed by Giovanni Tacuino, whose woodcuts – as Lilian Armstrong suggests – are reminiscent in style of one of the most esteemed and sought after designers and illuminators active in Venice, Benedetto Bordone (1450/55-1530). Bordone might be responsible for the design of this fine border on shaded ground with parallel lines, which was later re-used in black for the title of Bordone's famous isolario, the Libro nel quale si ragiona de tutte l'Isole del mondo issued in Venice in 1528.

In Venice, in 1514, Ambrogio Leone published his De Nola Opusculum, a historical survey on the origin and history of his birth city. The volume was printed by Giovanni Rosso and supplemented with four copperplates by Girolamo Moceto (see A. M. Hind, Early Italian Engravings, II, vol. 5, pp. 170-71, nos. 19-22). In some copies, these engravings are printed in varying colours of green, red, dark brown, and blue-grey ink, possibly revealing – as with the 1523 edition of the Problemata – Leone's personal interest in colour printing.

F. Barberi, Il frontespizio nel libro italiano del Quattrocento e del Cinquecento, Milano 1969, I, p. 125; L. Ammirati, Ambrogio Leone nolano, Marigliano 1983: L. Armstrong, “Benedetto Bordon, 'Miniator', and Cartography in Early Sixteenth Century Venice,” Eadem, Studies of a Renaissance Miniaturist in Venice, London 2003, 2, p. 621, note 91; P. Zambelli, “A Nolan before Bruno, Momus and Socratism in the Renaissance”, Eadem, White Magic, Black Magic in the European Renaissance, Leiden-Boston 2007, pp. 254-264; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 73.

The first Homer printed outside of Italy

74. Homerus (8th century BC)

Ομήρον Ιλιάς... Strasbourg, Wolfgang Köpfel, 1525. (together with:) Idem. Οδύσσεια, Βατραχομνομαχία, Υμνοι. λβ. Wolfgang Köpfel, 1525.

Two works, in two volumes, 8°. I. (161x91 mm). Collation: A-Z8, AA-MM8. 277, [3] leaves. Greek type. Title-page within a woodcut border depicting subjects from the Iliad, possibly by Hans Weiditz d.J.; woodcut printer's device on the title-page and on fol. I8v. Blank spaces for capitals, with printed guide letters. II. (161x95 mm). Collation: A8, b-z8, A-I8, aa-gg8. 251, [61] leaves. Complete with fols I4v and I8r blank. Title-page within a woodcut border depicting subjects from the Odyssey, possibly by Hans Weiditz d.J; woodcut printer's device on the title-page. Blank spaces for capitals, with printed guide letters. Uniformly bound in contemporary blind-tooled black leather, over pasteboards. Traces of ties. Spine with four raised bands. Both volumes are very well preserved. In the first volume, outer margin lightly short and some minor loss to the blank outer corner of one leaf; in volume two, waterstain to gutter and lower margin of some quires. Repairs to corners, spine heads and joints of both volumes, spines slightly rubbed. A few interlinear Latin notes on fol. MM8r.

Provenance: Étienne Desprez, president of the Besançon school and correspondent, between 1529-34, of Erasmus of Rotterdam (ownership inscription on the title-page of the second volume, 'Sum Stephanj a pratis'); De Valimbert family from Besançon (ownership inscription on the title-page of the first volume, 'Jo. Fred. de Valimbert'; on the last verso and on the verso of last flyleaf: 'Carolus Valimbertus Rhetore Bisuntinae').

The first complete edition of Homer's works printed outside Italy. The printer, Wolfgang Köpfel (or 'Cephalaeus', as the colophon in both volumes states), introduced Homer to the German Renaissance, the great poet having previously only been known in German-speaking areas though the Batrachomyomachia (1513) and the first book of Ilias (1516).

The 1525 Homer is rare and can be “found only in very few collections” (Dibdin, Introduction, p. 375). It is rarer still to find both volumes together, as they usually tend to appear separately.

Homer's texts were edited by philologist Johannes Lonicerus (1499-1569), who had studied in Wittenberg under the influential Reformation humanist Philipp Melanchton. In his prefatory epistles – both addressed to Melanchton – Lonicerus identifies the canon of Greek poetry in Homer, Hesiod, and Pindar, and stresses not only the beauty of language and narrative of the Homeric poems, but also their vastness of wisdom, moral meaning, and pedagogic function. The texts are mainly based on the Florentine editio princeps of 1488, and the variant readings are included at the end of each volume. Both title-pages are framed with fine woodcut borders that depict Homer himself as well as scenes and subjects from the Iliad (the duel between Hector and Achilles, the city of Troy, and Priam's family) and the Odyssey (Ulysses in the island of the Phaecians and the return to Ithaca), possibly executed by German artist Hans Weiditz the Younger (1495-1537), famous for his woodcut embellishments to Brunsfels's Herbarum vivae eicones.

The publishing initiative enjoyed great success, and three subsequent Köpfel editions followed in 1534, 1542, and 1550.

Adams H-746; VD16 H-4652/4692; Ritter Repertoire, 1189-1190; Benzing-Muller, 55-56; Chrisman p. 74 (A3.3.4-5); Hoffmann II, p. 315; Young Homer, p. 180; Homer in Print, Chicago 2013, A7 (only the Odyssea of 1525); Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 74.

The last Soncino book printed in Italy

79. Folengo, Teofilo (1491-1544)

Orlandino qual tratta darme e damor per Limerno Pitocco da Mantua composto. Girolamo Soncino, 1527.

8° (155x111 mm). Collation: A-P4, Q6. LXVI leaves. Roman and gothic type. Title-page printed in red and black within an elaborated woodcut frame. Half page woodcut vignette on fol. A2r, showing Berta and Milone. Nineteenth-century vellum, over pasteboards. Red edges. A good copy. Title-page soiled, some foxing and browning, small stains on a few leaves; a short tear to fol. E3, without any loss. Wormhole in the outer margin of the first thirty leaves not affecting text, pin wormhole in the first twenty leaves that slightly affects the title-page border, the frame of the woodcut on the following page and a few letters. Two manuscript notes in Hebrew on the verso of the last leaf.

Provenance: on the recto of the last leaf, the early ownership entry by 'Eliezer bar Silomo Debauzo'; La Anticuaria Libreria de Llordachs Hermanos, Barcelona (ticket on the front pastedown).

The fine third edition of the Orlandino – written by Folengo under the nickname of Limerno Pitocco – and the last book printed by Gershom Soncino in Italy before moving, in 1527, to Salonika, in the Ottoman Empire. The first edition of Folengo's poem had appeared in Venice in July 1526, printed by Gregorio de' Gregori for the bookseller Niccolò Garanta, followed a few months later by another edition, also issued for Garanta, by the Nicolini da Sabbio brothers. The Orlandino is a poem in octaves, which narrates the early years of Orlando, fitting into the semi-popular tradition of the cantari dedicated to the childhood of the hero. The poem is divided into two sections: the background (Berta and Milone, Orlando's parents, falling in love) occupies six books, while the hero's deeds are narrated in the seventh and final canto.

Gershom Soncino was the greatest of the pioneers of Hebrew printing, active in different Italian towns – Brescia, Fano, Pesaro, and Rimini – from the late fifteenth century until 1527, when he was forced to flee for the Ottoman Empire. He published books in Hebrew, Latin, and Italian, with a special interest in chivalric literature, as the fine Orlandino of 1527 attests. The volume is illustrated with the same woodcut depicting Berta and Milone used, with a few variants, in 1526 in the Venetian editions of the poem. The Soncino Orlandino omits, as a measure of prudence, a few stanzas of the seventh canto and the entire eighth canto, which contains an anti-clerical tale on the fake abbot Griffarosto.

In his Annali tipografici dei Soncino (1886), Giacomo Manzoni states he was never able to see a copy of this book. An additional noteworthy feature in the copy presented here is its earliest recorded ownership, to be referred to a certain Eliezer ben Salomon Debauzo, reflecting the taste of the Sephardic diaspora in Italy for chivalric literature.

Manzoni, Annali Soncino, no. 134; E. Sandal, “Indice cronologico delle edizioni latine e volgari di Girolamo Soncino (1502-1527)”, G. Tamani (ed.), L'attività editoriale di Gershom Soncino, 1502-1527, no. 110; Melzi-Tosi p. 192; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 79.

The Dee-Winthrop copy of Apollonius of Perga

91. Apollonius Pergaeus (late 3rd century BC - early 2nd century BC)

Apollonii Pergei Philosophi, Mathematicique excellentissimi Opera. Per Doctissimum Philosophum Ioannem Baptistam Memum Patritium Venetum, Mathematicharum Artium in Urbe Veneta Lectorem Publicum. De Graeco in Latinum Traducta, & Nouiter Impressa.... Bernardino Bindoni for Giambattista Memmo, 1537.

Folio (303x203 mm). Collation: a-p6. 89 of 90 leaves, lacking the final blank. Roman and italic type. Title-page printed in red and black, within a four-sided border of six different woodblocks, depicting a series of philosophers, poets, and scientists from Antiquity; in the lower panel an enclosed garden with fountains. On the title-page woodcut depiction of the author with his mathematical attributes on a landscape ground. Woodcut vignette, depicting an enthroned pope, with the letters '.S.' and '.P.', on fol. P5v; numerous woodcut diagrams in text. Contemporary Louvain binding of blind-panelled polish fawn calf, over pasteboards. Covers within a frame of blind fillets, with small floral tools in gilt at each outer corner. Central blind fillet-lozenge, a small rampant lion-shape tool in gilt at each outer corner, gilt crowned imperial double-headed eagle at the centre. Spine with five small raised bands, gilt fleur-de-lis and dolphin alternately tooled in compartments. Front pastedown is a fragment of a twelfth-century vellum manuscript on divination in a late-Carolingian hand, rear pastedown is a fragment of a thirteenth-century vellum manuscript Evangeliary in an early Gothic hand with musical notation. Corners worn, spine defective at head and foot, front cover almost detached. In a modern half-brown morocco box, on the spine 'APOLLONIUS OF PERGA DEE-WINTHORP COPY' in gilt on red morocco lettering-piece, and the imprint 'VENICE 1537'. A good copy, the first two leaves slightly browned, a few fingermarks. Some pencilled bibliographical notes on the pastedowns and recto of front flyleaf.

Provenance: the philosopher, mathematician, and astrologer John Dee (1527-1608; his ownership inscription dated 1549 on the title-page, 'Joannes Deeus: Anglus: 1549.', some marginal notes and underlining, autograph table on flyleaf of Ramist systematization of the mathematics in Apollonius, Archimedes, and Eutocius of Ascalon); John Winthrop, Jr. (1606-1676), son of the Massachusetts Bay Colony's first governor, physician, governor of Connecticut colony (ownership signature dated 1631 'John Winthrop. 1631.', and his sigil, the hieroglyphic monad invented by Dee, on the title-page; another ownership inscription on the recto of the front flyleaf, 'Winthropi', combined with a smaller monad symbol); by descent to Waitstill Winthrop (1642-1717) son of John, Jr., chief justice of Massachusetts (signature on the recto of the front flyleaf); Frederick Winthrop of New York (ownership entry dated 18 May 1812 on title-page, 'Fred.k Winthrop New York May 1812); Robert Charles Winthrop (1809-1894, Speaker of the House, senator from Massachusetts); Charles Fraser (presentation inscription on the flyleaf 'Washington, May, 1850'); Arthur & Charlotte Vershbow, acquired from Goodspeed's Book Shop, 1975 (inked note on the recto of the front flyleaf '75-46-14'; ex-libris on recto of front flyleaf; see The Collection of Arthur & Charlotte Vershbow, Christie's New York 2013, lot 33).

An extraordinary association copy, the rare first Latin edition of the first four books of the famous Apollonius of Perga's Conics, once belonging to the philosopher, mathematician, astrologer, and book collector John Dee (1527-1608), one of the most intriguing and enigmatic figures of the Elizabethan age. After Dee's death, the volume was acquired, in 1631, by John Winthrop Jr. (1606-1676), who in the same year crossed the ocean and brought his notable scientific library to Massachusetts Bay, including the Apollonius with the celebrated hieroglyphic monad invented by John Dee. This is the first recorded scientific book to reach the New World, and among the earliest books with an American provenance.

Apollonius' fame rests on the Κωνικά (Conics), the only work of Greek mathematics to rival in importance those of Euclid and Archimedes. Conics investigates the generation and mathematical properties of conic sections, and introduces the terms parabola, ellipse, and hyperbola. Originally in eight books, the first four books survive in Greek, while Books V-VII survive only in the Arabic version (later translated into Latin by Abraham Ecchellensis, and published in 1661), and Book VIII is lost. The editio princeps appeared only in 1710, edited by Edmund Halley. Conics became the canonical treatise on this subject. Held in such high esteem, it was commented on by the most eminent mathematicians of the seventeenth century, including Pierre de Fermat and Isaac Newton.

Another critical historical figure to hold Apollonius in such high esteem was the first owner of the present copy: the famous philosopher, mathematician, and astrologer John Dee.

Dee was born in London and studied at St. John College, Cambridge. In 1546 he was nominated to be one of the original fellows of Trinity College. In 1547 he travelled briefly to Louvain; upon his return to England he brought with him astronomical instruments devised by Gemma Frisius along with two globes constructed by Gerard Mercator. In 1548 Dee obtained his M.A.; that summer he went again to Louvain, where he resided until July 1550, furthering his mathematical studies with Frisius, Mercator, and Abraham Ortelius, and conferring with fellow scholars. During this time he also bought other scientific instruments and numerous scientific books, including this copy of Apollonius' Conics, which he acquired in 1549.

In 1550 Dee lectured on Euclid in Paris, and upon his return in 1551 he became one of the most influential figures of the Elizabethan court. In 1583 he embarked on a six-year journey in Eastern Europe, visiting Poland, in Bohemia and probably in Prague. When he returned to England in 1589, his important position at the court could not be restored. In 1596 he accepted the office of warden of a college in Manchester, and about 1605 returned in his house at Mortlake (London), where he died in great poverty in 1608.

Like Dee's Hermetic philosophy, his sigil – the Monas – is well known. An intricate symbol devised by Dee, the Monas condenses his mystical cosmogony and contains within it the symbols of all the planets and metals. While much of his activity was devoted to Hermetic magic and occult philosophy, including spiritual conversations with angels and spirits, the definition or the myth of the Magus cannot encompass the wealth of his manifold thought and work.

Dee was indeed not only an eccentric Hermetic philosopher or a reincarnation of Merlin at the Elizabethan court, but also a reputed mathematician, and his work bears witness to these broad and deep scientific interests. Thus, beyond the cabalistic, the same monad is also imbued with geometrical and arithmetical significance, as Dee argues in his manifesto Monas hieroglyphica (1564), in which he offers a construction of the monad symbol as a mathematical proof.

Dee's library – the Bibliotheca Mortlacensis, containing over 3,000 manuscripts and printed books – was at that time the largest in Renaissance England, and was at the disposal of his circle of friends, students, scholars, and statesmen. As evinced by the surviving inventory, which he compiled himself in 1583, Dee had collected the most prominent works on mathematics, astronomy, mechanics, optics, cartography, technology, and military and naval sciences, counting among them the Conics: “Apollonij Pergaei Conica latine fo. Ven. 1537” (John Dee's Library Catalogue, no. 74).

As soon as Dee departed for Poland in 1583, his house in Mortlake was raided – probably by his pupils – and many books, scientific instruments, and natural wonders were stolen. When he returned to England, he was forced to sell many of his books to stave off his increasing poverty, and the remaining volumes were finally dispersed upon his death. The volumes that have survived are now located in institutional and private collections in three continents; they are identified by his ownership inscriptions on the title-page, and also often thanks to his additional signs, underlining, extensive marginalia, and fuller notes written – as in the present example – either on pastedowns or flyleaves, or at the end of the volumes, these inclusions being central to the study of his scientific activities.

The American provenance of this copy, which was acquired in 1631 by John Winthrop the Younger, a cosmopolitan intellectual, one of the most important men in colonial English America, and the first colonial fellow of the Royal Society, is equally remarkable. In the 1620s Winthrop began to study natural philosophy and alchemy, becoming an enthusiastic follower of John Dee. He was a passionate collector of manuscripts and books associated with Dee, and used the hieroglyphic monad as his personal mark. It is through Winthrop that John Dee's name, work and influence spread to Puritan New England; in fact, exactly in 1631 Winthrop left for America, following his father, the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, bringing with him his considerable scientific library. “Winthrop began to display a special affinity for the English alchemist John Dee. Dee [...] had a special interest in scientific exploration of the New World. He had given instruction and advice to pilots and navigators conducting exploratory voyages to North America. He also conjured angels to ask them of the success of a colony he proposed to establish there, which he intended to call Atlantis” (W.W. Woodward, Prospero's America, p. 33).

Winthrop's library became the largest in the colonies. In 1812 his descendants distributed the collection to Harvard, Yale, and other institutions; the New York Society Library received 290 volumes, including at least two with the Dee provenance (Paracelsus and Gerard Dorn), but Frederick Winthrop evidently decided to retain for himself Dee's Apollonius.

[Prof. Anthony Grafton of Princeton University, who has recently studied the Dee/Winthrop books held at the New York Society Library, has prepared a full report on the present copy, which is available upon request]

STC Italian 34; Dibner 101; Stillwell Awakening, 139; Hoffmann I, p. 205; Essling 667-668; Sander 480; J.O. Halliwell (ed.), The Private Diary of Dr. John Dee, and the Catalogue of his Library of Manuscripts, London 1842; P. French, John Dee. The World of an Elizabethan Magus, London 1972; F. A. Yates, The Occult Philosophy in the Elizabethan Age, London 1979, pp. 75-108; N.H. Clulee, John Dee's Natural Philosophy. Between Science and Religion, London 1988; J. Roberts - A. G. Watson, John Dee's Library Catalogue, London 1990; W. H. Sherman, John Dee. The Politics of Reading and Writing in the English Renaissance, Amherst 1995; S. Wilkinson, “The Alchemical Library of John Winthrop”, Ambix, 13 (1965), pp. 139-186; R. C. Black, The younger John Winthrop, New York 1966; W. W. Woodward, Prospero's America. John Winthrop, Jr., Alchemy, and the Creation of New England Culture, Chapel Hill, NC 2010; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 91.

Besides Homer, there is Hesiod — Alfred Eckhard Zimmern

92. Hesiodus (fl. 8th-7th century BC)

Ἠσιόδου τοῦ Ἀσκραίου Έργα καὶ Ἠμέραι. Θεογονία. Ἀσρις Ἠρακλέους. Ἄπαντα δὲ μετὰ πολλῶν καὶ καλίστων ἐξηγήσεων. Hesiodi Ascraei Opera et dies. Theogonia. Scutum Herculis.... Bartolomeo Zanetti for Giovanni Francesco Trincavelli, June 1537.

4° (207x147 mm). Collation: †4, α-φ8, ω4. [4], LXXXVIII [i.e. CLXXXVIII] leaves. Greek, roman and italic type. Text in Greek and Latin. Woodcut printer's device on the title-page. Full-page woodcut depicting farm implements and agricultural tools on fol. ξ8v; two woodcut diagrams on fols. o1v and o4v. On fol. †2r seven-line woodcut decorated initial on black ground, and Byzantine headpiece. Headings, initials and headpiece printed in red on fol. α1r. Nineteenth-century half-calf, marbled covers. Spine with five raised bands, title gilt on lettering-piece. A very good copy; light foxing and browning on the first and last leaves. A few contemporary marginal annotations in Greek.

Provenance: 'Gerardi Cerfolii' (Gérard Cerfaux? Ownership inscription on the title-page).

First edition of Hesiod's complete works, containing a first-edition series of Byzantine Scholia, including those by the grammarian Ioannes Tzetze and the Allegoriae in Theogoniam by Ioannes Galenos Diakonos. The Venetian physician and humanist Vittore Trincavelli (1496-1568) was responsible for the edition. A Greek scholar, Trincavelli collaborated exclusively with Bartolomeo Zanetti, from Casterzago (Brescia), editing at least nine Greek editiones principes.

The volume is finely printed, and decorated with woodcut initials and headpieces in Byzantine style, all previously used by renowned Venetian printers Nikolaos Vlastos and Zacharias Kallierges.

The Opera et dies was first printed in Milan in 1480 by Bonus Accursius, whereas the Theogonia and the Scutum Herculis first appeared in the Theocritus issued by the Aldine press in 1495/96. For the commentaries appended to Hesiod's texts, Trincavelli mainly used manuscripts preserved in the Library of San Marco in Venice. The Hesiod of 1537 – dedicated to Florentine philologist Pietro Vettori – was long considered most correct and served as a model for many subsequent editions.

Adams H-470; STC Italian 326; Mortimer Italian, 233; M. Sicherl, Die griechischen Erstausgaben des Vettore Trincavelli, Paderborn 1993, pp. 68-73; Hoffmann II, p. 248; Layton, The Sixteenth Century Greek Book in Italy, p. 98; Sander 3380; A. E. Zimmern, The Greek Commonwealth Politics and Economics in Fifthe-Century Athens, Oxford 1931, p. 93; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 92.

The Manzoni-Cavalieri-Martini copy

96. Boiardo, Matteo Maria (ca. 1441-1494)

Orlando innamorato. I tre libri dello innamoramento di Orlando... Tratti dal suo fedelissimo essemplare. Nuovamente con somma diligenza revisti, e castigati. Con molte stanze aggiunte del proprio auttore, quali gli mancavano. Insieme con gli altri tre Libri compidi. Pietro Nicolini da Sabbio, March-April 1539.

Two parts in one volume, 4° (199x144 mm). A-Z8, AA-DD8, EE10; Aa-Kk8, L-Q8, Rr-Xx8. 226; 167 (numbered I-XLVI, 47-167) of 168 leaves. Lacking the last blank. Roman type. First title-page printed in red and black within an elaborate architectural woodcut border; on fol. A2v woodcut map of southern France, Switzerland, and part of Germany, showing the geographical disposition of the 'Sequani' and 'Helvetii' fought by Julius Caesar, repeated also on fols. N3v and BB8r of the first part, and on fol. Ff6v of the second part (in the last three appearances a contemporary hand has added at the top of the woodcut the inscription 'FABIUS MAXIMUS PATRIT ROMANUS'); on the second title-page, a large round horseback portrait of Orlando (the same hand has added to the caption in brown ink 'IL CONTE', and 'IL PALADINO'). Early twentieth-century vellum with overlapping edges, ink title on the spine. Gilt edges. A good copy, worm track, partially repaired, in the lower margin of fols. G3-O8, occasionally affecting text (especially between fols. G3 and I5). Some marginal stains, upper margin cut short, slightly trimming the running title on a very few leaves.

Provenance: Giacomo Manzoni (1816-1889; ex-libris on the front pastedown; see Bibliotheca Manzoniana. Catalogue des livres composant la Bibliothèque de feu M. le Comte Jacques Manzoni, Città di Castello 1893, lot 3065); Giuseppe Cavalieri (1834-1918; ex-libris on the front flyleaf; see T. De Marinis, Catalogue des livres composant la Bibliothèque de M. Giuseppe Cavalieri à Ferrara, Florence 1908; no. 273); Giuseppe Martini (1870-1944; his pencilled notes on the front flyleaves).

Rare edition – in a fine copy once belonging to the libraries of the great book collectors Giacomo Manzoni and Giuseppe Cavalieri – of the complete Orlando Innamorato printed by Nicolini da Sabbio, in which the three books originally written by Boiardo are continued and completed by three other books composed by Nicolò Degli Agostini (fl. first quarter of the sixteenth century) and introduced here with a separate title-page bearing the printing date of March 1539. These supplementary books were published together with the three Libri by Boiardo up until the end of the seventeenth century.

Editions of Boiardo's poem in its original instantiation – before Francesco Berni's censored revision of 1541, which became the standard text for all subsequent editions – are all extremely rare. Of the 1495 edition, the first in three books (published at Scandiano by Pellegrino de' Pasquali on behalf of Boiardo's widow, Taddea Gonzaga) issued in 1,250 copies, none have survived beyond the end of the eighteenth century.

As for Degli Agostini's continuation, the fourth book was originally published in Venice in 1505 in a lost edition, the fifth book was first published in Venice by Rusconi in 1514. The sixth part was probably first published by Zoppino in 1521, but no copy has survived, and was followed by a 1524 reprint (see no. 72).

Adams B-2314; Sandal, Il mestier de le stamperie de i libri, p. 199, no. 8; Melzi-Tosi, p. 93; N. Harris, Bibliografia dell' “Orlando Innamorato”, nos. 25a-25b; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 96.

Renaissance Architecture, printed on blue paper

97. Serlio, Sebastiano (1475-1554)

Il terzo libro... nel qual si figurano, e descrivono le antiquità di Roma, e le altre che sono in Italia, e fuori d’Italia. Venice, Francesco Marcolini, February 1540 (bound with:) Idem. Regole generali di architettura... sopra le cinque maniere de gli edifici, cioe, thoscano, dorico, ionico, corinthio, e composito, con gli essempi de l’antiquita, che per la maggior parte concordano con la dottrina di Vitruvio. Francesco Marcolini, February 1540.

Two works in one volume, folio (342x240 mm). Printed on blue paper. I. Collation: A2, B-V4. CLV, [1] pages. Lacking fols. H1 and H4, probably replaced by the first recorded owner with the leaves from an ordinary copy, and fols. R2 and R3 supplied with two manuscript leaves. Roman and italic type. Title within a cartouche surmounting a woodcut depiction of ancient Roman ruins with the caption 'ROMA QUANTA FUIT IPSA RUINA DOCET'. Woodcut printer's device and colophon framed by a cartouche on the verso of fol. V4. 120 woodcuts, including thirty-two full-page and four double-page blocks. Woodcut animated initials throughout. II. Collation: A-T4. LXXVI leaves. Lacking fol. B1 which is supplied with a manuscript leaf. Roman and italic type. Woodcut architectural title. Woodcut printer's device and colophon framed by a cartouche on the verso of fol. T4. 126 woodcuts, fifty-six full-page illustrations, including six plates on three leaves (fols. S4-T2). Woodcut animated initials throughout. Eighteenth-century brown half-morocco, marbled covers. Spine with title in gilt lettering. A good copy, old paper repairs to the gutter and to outer margin of fols. V2 and V3 of the first edition bound. The lower margin of fol. A4 in the second edition bound has been repaired, some ink stains.

Provenance: Francesco Bartoli (possibly the Bolognese antiquarian (1675-1733); early ownership inscription on the first title-page and the margins of fol. V3 in the first edition bound, as well as fol. A4v of the second one, partially legible under UV lamp). To the skilled hand of this early owner are attributed the drawings that replace the lacking leaves, and the marginalia.

This miscellaneous volume, exceptionally printed on blue paper, contains the first edition of Book III from this fundamental work by the celebrated Bolognese architect Serlio; it is followed by the second edition of Book IV or Regole generali di architettura, which originally appeared in Venice in 1537. The early owner of this volume may be identified as the Bolognese antiquarian Francesco Bartoli (1675-1733), who drew numerous copies of antiques, and played a notable role in the eighteenth-century reception of the classical tradition, especially in Britain. It is also likewise possible to attribute to his hand the finely drawn leaves on white paper which replace those lacking on blue paper.

Serlio's monumental work represents the first treatise on architecture in which the illustrations assumed primary importance, leading it to become one of the most important architectural books to disseminate knowledge of antique heritage and invention during the Italian Renaissance throughout Europe.

The work is made up of seven Books, which were published separately following an order explained by Serlio in Book IV. Book III, on ancient monuments, is dedicated to the King of France, François I, and appeared in Venice in 1540, while Book I and Book II, on geometry and perspective respectively, were published simultaneously in bilingual Italian-French editions in Paris in 1545, after Serlio's move to Fontainebleau. Book V, containing twelve temple designs, followed in 1547; it was the last to be published during Serlio's lifetime, once again in Paris in bilingual version. Book VI, on domestic architecture, was never published, and survives only in two manuscript versions and a series of trial woodcuts. Finally, Book VII was edited posthumously by Jacopo Strada and published in Frankfurt in 1575. By the early seventeenth century Serlio's treatise, and its various parts, had been translated into several languages, some as unauthorised editions.

Book III is especially important, and the layout Serlio adopted for it, with its well-balanced blocks of text and images, was later copied by Palladio in his Quattro Libri dell'Architettura of 1570 (see no. 145). “The first genuine advance in architectural illustration seems to have been made by Serlio, and his Libro Terzo set the type of architectural illustration in Italy for the rest of the Century” (Fowler).

The text and the illustrations were both the result of Serlio's own investigations and derivations from the work of other architects, above all Serlio's master, Baldassare Peruzzi, whom he had assisted on a project for the façade of the Bolognese Basilica of San Petronio in the early 1520s. At the end, Serlio adds a separate treatise on Egyptian antiquities – Trattato di alcune cose meravigliose de l'Egitto – which derives mainly from Diodorus Siculus, which presents among other things a perspectival elevation and a description of the Pyramid of Cheops near Cairo, as well as the description and imaginary reconstruction of a monument containing one hundred columns, the remains of which Serlio states were found in Greece.

Book IV – Regole generali – represents the first handbook to summarize the new architectural style, establishing a canon of the five classical architectural orders on the basis of Roman remains. Like the previous edition described, the work is finely illustrated.

The printer Marcolini issued some copies of his editions of Book III and of Book IV on large blue paper as presentation or special copies. Walters Art Gallery has a copy of each of these, while the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has a copy of Book III only.

I. Mortimer Italian, 472; Berlin Katalog 2560; Fowler 308; RIBA 2968 and 2966; II. Charvet, 2; Fowler 314; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 97.

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