Theology and Philosophy Philobiblon

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

A luxurious 'Vrelant Book of Hours'

7. Book of Hours

Book of Hours. (Use of Rome); Illuminated manuscript on parchment, in Latin. Bruges, ca. 1460-1475. Illuminated manuscript on parchment, in Latin. Bruges, ca. 1460-1475.

168x115 mm. 182 leaves. Complete. Quires generally of 8 leaves (except 1-26, 156, 182) with the major part of the full-page miniatures added on single sheets. Blanks: fol. 122 and the last one. Early pencilled foliation on the upper right corner (used here). Text block: 88x59 mm, one column, 17 lines. Ruled in red ink. Written in black ink in a regular letter bastarde. Rubrics in red. Capitals touched in yellow, one- and two-line initials in burnished gold on red and blue grounds with white tracery, panel borders on every page in designs of flowers and fruit with gold leaves and acanthus sprays, fourteen full borders and large initials, thirteen small miniatures with full borders comprising twelve seven-line miniatures and one five-line historiated initial, fourteen full-page miniatures with full borders, the miniatures in arched compartments. Contemporary Flemish blind-stamped panels, two on each cover, depicting the Annunciation beneath a gothic canopy with a border of flowers and figures of dragons, eagles, etc., skilfully inset into calf over wooden boards, the outer edges stamped with crosses. Rebacked, baroque silver clasps added, and engraved with the initials 'D.M.' and the date 1818 (one clasp partly broken). Gilt edges. Manuscript in fine fresh condition, with very wide margins. Minor scratch across part of the miniature on fol. 96, slight marks on fol. 1 offset from pilgrims' badges formerly sewn on flyleaf (two circular, one lozenge-shaped).


Fols. 1r-13r: Calendar;

fols. 14r-20r: Hours of the Holy Cross;

fols. 21r-26r: Hours of the Holy Spirit;

fols. 27r-36v: Mass of the Virgin;

fols. 37r-42v: Obsecro te; O intemerata;

fols. 43r-52r: Suffrages to different saints;

fols. 53r-123r: Hours of the Virgin, Use of Rome: Lauds (fol. 70r), Prime (fol. 81r), Terce (fol. 86r), Sext (fol. 91r), None (fol. 96r), Vespers (fol. 101r), Compline (fol. 109r);

fols. 124r-142r: Seven Penitential Psalms;

fols. 143r-181v: Office of the Dead, Use of Rome.


The subject of the fourteen full-page miniatures are as follows:

fol. 13v: The Crucifixion;

fol. 20v: The Pentecost;

fol. 26v: The Virgin and Child enthroned between two angels, one with a lute;

fol. 52v: The Annunciation in a tall gothic church;

fol. 69v: The Visitation, city and landscape beyond;

fol. 80v: The Adoration;

fol. 85v: The Annunciation to the Shepherds;

fol. 90v: The Adoration of the Magi;

fol. 95v: The Presentation in the Temple;

fol. 100v: The Massacre of the Innocents;

fol. 108v: The Flight into Egypt;

fol. 114v: The Coronation of the Virgin;

fol. 123v: David in prayer before his throne;

fol. 142v: A funeral service in a chapel.

These are the subjects of the seven-line illuminated initials (the initials on fol. 37r is on five lines):

fol. 37r: The Pieta; fol. 43r: St. John the Baptist; fol. 43v: St. Peter; fol. 44r: St. James; fol. 45r: St. Sebastian; fol. 45v: St. Christopher; fol. 46v: St. Nicholas; fol. 47r: St. Anthony; fol. 47v: St. Francis; fol. 48r: St. Anne; fol. 49r: Mary Magdalene; fol. 49v: St. Catherine; fol. 50v: St. Barbara.

Provenance: Catalogue of Western Manuscripts and Miniatures including the Bible of Justemont Abbey... which will be sold by auction by Sotheby Parke Bernet & Co., London 11 July 1978; purchased by Clifford E. King (1924-2010).

A luxurious Flemish Book of Hours, in exceptional condition: a fine example of a so-called 'Vrelant Book of Hours'.

The manuscript was likely produced in Bruges, as suggested by the style of illumination and the prominent Calendar inclusions of the major feasts of St. Donatian (14 October), the patron saint of Bruges, to whom the city's cathedral is dedicated, and St. Basil (14 June), whose relics were venerated in the church of St. Basil in Bruges, now the Chapel of the Holy Blood.

The manuscript is decorated with fourteen full-page miniatures, inserted at relevant sections of the Hours, mostly accompanying the Hours of the Virgin and based on well-established iconography.

The miniatures are especially notable for their delicately posed human figures; the sense of depth in the landscape backgrounds; the townscapes painted in blue, green, red, grey and pink; the height of the architectural compositions; and the careful execution of floral motifs and borders. The style, along with the intense, distinctive colouring, closely recall the work of one of the most successful and prolific manuscript painters of the Low Countries: Willem Vrelant, a native of Utrecht who was active in Bruges from 1454 until his death in 1481. Vrelant also worked for the Burgundian Court – and especially for Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, in 1468 and 1469 – and specialised in the production of Books of Hours. “Willem Vrelant was one of the most successful painters of manuscripts in the Low Countries. Even today we still have some hundred manuscripts decorated by him or his close associates [...] many were made for the highest circles of the Burgundian Court. Their decoration is splendid; their images clear, bold, and naturalistic and the style easy to recognize” (A. H. Van Buren, “Willem Vrelant”, p. 3). It is not easy, however, to distinguish between the work of Vrelant, the apprentices and collaborators (including Vrelant's daughters) who were active in his workshop, and his numerous followers and imitators. In the present manuscript, the major scenes tend to be placed above a polyhedral platform covered with white tiles; a similar compositional framework is found in ms KBR 9270 of the Bibliothèque Royale in Bruxelles, which contains the Salutation Angelique by Jean Miélot, painted for Philippe le Bon and attributed to Vrelant himself.

From a textual point of view, the present manuscript also bears similarities to the Hours of Mary of Burgundy, preserved in the National Library in Vienna (cod. 1857) and ascribed to Vrelant as well. Both manuscripts include a section for the Mass of the Virgin, in which the text is illustrated with a full-page miniature depicting the Virgin and Child enthroned against a cloth-of-honor and flanked by two angels, one of whom carries a lute (for a description of the Livre d'heures de Marie de Bourgogne, see B. Bousmanne, “Item a Guillaume Wyelant aussi enlumineur”, pp. 306-307).

G. Dogaer, Flemish Miniature Painting in the 15th and 16th Centuries, Amsterdam 1987; B. Bousmanne, Guillaume Wielant ou Willem Vrelant, miniaturiste à la cour de Bourgogne au XVe siècle, (exhibition catalogue), Brussels 1997; Idem, “Item a Guillaume Wyelant aussi enlumineur”. Willem Vrelant. Un aspect de l'enluminure dans le Pays Bas méridionaux sous le mécénat des ducs de Bourgougne Philippe le Bon et Charles le Téméraire, Turnhout 1997; A. H. Van Buren, “Willem Vrelant: Questions and Issues”, Revue belge d'archéologie et d'histoire de l'art, 68 (1999), pp. 3-30; Th. Kren - S. McKendrick (eds.), Illuminating the Renaissance: The Triumph of Flemish Manuscript Painting in Europe, Los Angeles 2003; T. Delcourt - B. Bousmanne (eds.), Miniatures flamandes 1404-1482, (exhibition catalogue), Paris and Brussels 2011; S. Hindman - J. H. Marrow (eds.), Books of Hours Reconsidered, London 2013; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 7.

A Typographical Monument

9. Aurelius Augustinus (354-430)

De Civitate Dei. Conradus Sweynheym and Arnoldus Pannartz, in the house of Petrus de Maximo, 1468.

Folio (400x280 mm). Collation: *8, **8, a-m10, n12, 710, cum8, rum8. 273 of [274] leaves, lacking the last blank. Complete with the other blank leaves, fols. *1, **8, and rum7. Text in one column, 46 lines. Type: 115R. Fine illuminated white vinestem border on fol. a1r, including two large initials 'I' and 'G' illuminated in gold, and in lower panel the arms of Cardinal Niccolò Fieschi, with the manuscript inscription 'nic. car. de flisco.'. Twenty-one illuminated initials in gold on white vinestem panels; capital letters touched with red in text, and with yellow in the Tabula. In the first half of the volume the numbers and headings of the chapters have been supplied in contemporary script, in the second half the numbers only have been written in the upper margins. Nineteenth-century English vellum over pasteboards; covers within double border of gilt fillets, with yapp edges. Spine richly gilt tooled, title in gilt on hazel morocco lettering-piece. Vellum pastedowns and flyleaves. A large and fine copy.

Provenance: Cardinal Niccolò Fieschi (1456-1524; coat of arms and ownership inscription on the recto of fol. a1, 'nic. car. de flisco'); from the library of the St. Wenceslas cathedral in Olomouc, North Moravia (ownership inscription on the recto of the first leaf); the British publisher John Murray III (1808-1892), from the London booksellers Frederick Startridge Ellis & David White in 1882 (their letter offering the book to Murray is inserted); Murray's sale at Sotheby's London, Catalogue of Valuable Printed Books Autograph Letters, Literary and Musical Manuscripts comprising... a finely illuminated Copy of St. Augustine, De Civitate Dei, Sweynheym and Pannartz, 1468, London 1963; sold to John Francis Fleming (1910-1987); the collector and bookseller Abraham Simon Wolf Rosenbach (1876-1952).

Remarkable wide-margined and illuminated copy of the rare second edition of De Civitate Dei – the first printed in Rome –, one of the most influential works of Western thought, completed by the bishop Augustine of Hippo in the year 426.

The book was printed by the German clerics Conradus Sweynheym and Arnoldus Pannartz, who had worked for Johann Gutenberg in Mainz and had introduced printing to Italy in 1465 through their first press at the Benedictine monastery of Subiaco, some forty miles east of Rome.

The first edition of the treatise appeared on 12 June 1467 in Subiaco by the two proto-typographers, who in the same year moved to Rome at the behest of Cardinal Bessarion and the bishop of Aleria and papal secretary Giovanni Andrea Bussi. The De Civitate Dei is one of their first printed books, issued from the new press in Rome – 'In domo Petri de Maximo', as stated in the colophon – established in the house of Pietro de' Massimi near Piazza Navona. In Rome, Sweynheym and Pannartz published a long list of classics and Church Fathers, handsome folio editions with a print run of 250-300 copies. Fifty-one editions, including a third edition of the De Civitate Dei in 1470, are recorded from this Roman press, which remained active until 1473. The volumes are set in a new roman type, replacing the gothic font used by the German printers in Subiaco.

The exquisite white vinestem decoration in the present copy is in a style often seen in manuscripts and incunabula produced in Rome in the late 1460s, and would thus appear to have been executed by a Roman artist, possibly working in the same atelier that often collaborated with Sweynheym and Pannartz. As shown by the coat of arms painted on the opening leaf of text, the earliest recorded owner of this volume was Niccolò Fieschi (1456-1524), who came from a prominent Genoese family. He was appointed Cardinal by Pope Alexander VI in 1503, and died as Archbishop of Ravenna in 1524. In 1882, the volume was bought by the renowned British publisher John Murray.

A letter from the London bookseller Ellis to Murray, dated 20 January 1882, is inserted in the volume:

Dear Sir
As you said some time ago that you would like to secure from time to time fine specimens of Early Typography I send a volume for your inspection. It is a magnificent specimen of the Early Roman press being the 4th book printed in that city by Sweynheym & Pannartz the introducers of printing there. By the Arms on the 15th leaf you will see that it belonged to Cardinal de Flisco, who was Cardinal during the Pontificate of Paul II.
Subsequently it belonged to the Cathedral of Olmutz in Bohemia, whence it was lately purchased. The illumination of the first page & the initial letter of each book will I think commend themselves to you as extremely beautiful examples of Italian design. At the Sunderland sale a very inferior copy sold for £ 101 - & is since priced by Quaritch at £ 150 – and some years since the late M.r Huth gave for a copy in fine old binding no less than £ 400. You can give this volume for £ 80. [...] P.S. I have ascertained that not only is it perfect, but it contains two more leaves than Brunet describes and one more than mentioned in Hain's Repertorium, besides the two original blank leaves.

HC 2047; GW 2875; BMC IV, 5; IGI 967; Goff A-1231; M. Palumbo - E. Sidoli (eds.), The Books that Made Europe, Bruxelles 2106, pp. 24 25; M. Miglio - C. Frova, “Dal ms Sublacense all'editio princeps del De Civitate Dei di sant'Agostino (Hain 2046)”, C. Bianca, P. Farenga et al. (eds.), Scritture, biblioteche e stampa a Roma nel Quattrocento. Aspetti e problemi. Atti del Seminario 1-2 giugno 1979, Città del Vaticano 1980, pp. 245-273; E. Hall, Sweynheim & Pannartz and the Origins of Printing in Italy, German Technology and Italian Humanism, McMinnville, OR 1991; P. Farenga, “Le vie della stampa: da Subiaco a Roma”, Subiaco, la culla della stampa. Atti dei Convegni Abbazia di Santa Scolastica, 2006-2007, Roma 2010, pp. 39-52; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 9.

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.

Living in Platonic Style

30. Ficino, Marsilio (1433-1499)

De vita libri tres (De triplici vita); Apologia; Quod necessaria sit ad vitam securitas. Add: Poem by Amerigus Corsinus. Antonio di Bartolomeo Miscomini, 3 December 1489.

Folio (257x187 mm). Collation [*]2, a-d8, e6, f-k8, l6, m4. [90] leaves. Text in one column (the tables in two columns), 32 lines. Type: 112R. Four lines of gilt letterpress at the head of the text on the recto of fol. a2. Woodcut printer's device on colophon. Blank spaces for capitals, with printed guide letters. Eighteenth-century red crushed morocco, covers within three-line gilt-ruled border. Spine gilt tooled, with stemmed acorns, circlets, crescent handles, and stars. Gilt edges. A fine, wide-margined copy. A blind stamp touching two letters of text.

Provenance: Wigan Free Public Library, United Kingdom (embossed stamps on four leaves); deaccessioned by 2002 at the latest.

First edition, presented in a fine, wide-margined copy, of this influential medical-astrological treatise by the leading Platonic philosopher Marsilio Ficino, famous for his translations into Latin of the Corpus Hermeticum, and of Plato, first published in 1484. As the eldest son of the physician to the Medici family, Marsilio also received a professional training in medicine and natural philosophy.

The work is divided into three books (Lib. I. De vita sana; Lib. II. De vita longa; Lib. III. De via coelitus comparanda) and dedicated, at the beginning of the second Book, to the wealthy Florentine nobleman Filippo Valori, who paid for the printing. Ficino deals here with health and diet, touching on magic and astrology, especially in the short writing appended to De triplici vita – the Apologia quaedam, in qua de medicina, astrologia, ac vita mundi – addressed, on 15 September 1489, to the so-called 'three Pieros', i.e., Piero del Nero, Piero Guicciardini, and Piero Soderini. The work had a complex redaction. The first Book dates to 1480 and was originally part of Ficino's epistles, the third Book was composed between 1486 and 10 July 1489, and the second Book was written between August and October of 1489.

“He begins by advising students on relieving the melancholy, and Ficino recommends health and dietary measures to temper its influences. But it is in the third book, entitled 'De vita coelitus comparanda', that Ficino goes beyond the common medical-astrological astral influence. Building on the Platonic tripartite division of intellect, soul and body, Ficino introduces the originally Stoic concept of 'spiritus mundi' which is composed of the four earthly elements plus the divine 'aether', or cosmic spirit” (M. L. Ford, Christ, Plato, Hermes Trismegistus, Amsterdam 1990, 1, p. 179).

The De triplici vita enjoyed wide and enduring popularity. Its influence is detectable in numerous other works produced in the Renaissance, and was an important source for Paracelsus's De vita longa as well as for the famous engraving Melancholia executed by Albrecht Dürer.

The first lines of text on fol. a2r are set in capital letters and exceptionally in this copy printed in gold, a technique first introduced by the leading Augsburg printer Erhard Ratdolt, who moved to Venice in 1476, for printing the prefatory epistle in two dedication copies of his Euclid of 1486.

HC (+Add) 7065*; GW 9882; BMC VI, 639; IGI 3868; Goff F-158; Rhodes Firenze, 299; P. O. Kristeller, Marsilio Ficino and his Work after 500 Years, Firenze 1987; M. Ficino, Three Books on Life, ed. by C. V. Kashe, and J. R. Clark, Binghamton, NY, 1989; D. Laube, “The Stylistic Development of German Book Illustration, 1460-1511”, 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 2004, p. 55; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 30.

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 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.

Bonfire of the Vanities

44. Benivieni, Girolamo (1453-1542)

Canzoni e sonetti dell’amore e della bellezza divina, con commento. Antonio Tubini, Laurentius (Francisci) de Alopa, Venetus and Andrea Ghirlandi, 7 September 1500.

Chancery folio (281x212 mm). Collation: [π]4, a-n8, o6, oo10, p8, q10, r-s6. [4], CL leaves. Text in one column, surrounded by commentary, 44-45 lines. Fols. r1-s6 in two columns, shoulder notes. Type 2:107R (text), 1:86R (commentary). Blank spaces for capitals, with printed guide letters. Contemporary blind-tooled brown calf, over wooden boards. Covers within three fillets, and filled with diagonal blind lines. Spine early rebacked, renewed clasps and flyleaves, upper headcap slightly damaged. A very large copy, a few stains and wormholes towards the end, repairs to the corner of the first two leaves. Interesting contemporary marginalia throughout.

Provenance: the Certosa at Casotto, near Cuneo, in Piedmont (ownership inscription on the title-page, 'Cartusia Casularum mihi a M. de ducibus donato'; in the same hand the annotations on the margins); 'Jo. iac. salomonius' (ownership inscription on the title-page, with five Latin diptychs in praise of Benivieni's poems written in the same hand); Leo S. Olschki (1861-1940; pencilled note on the recto of the front flyleaf, 'L. S. Olschki. Firenze, 30 Ag. 1917, £120.00'; see Monumenta typographica. Cat. LIII, Florence 1903, no. 1805, and Choix de livres anciens, rares et curieux, I, Florence 1907, no. 1965, 'Ais de bois rec. de veau, dos refait'); Giuseppe Martini (1870-1944; his collation and bibliographical notes on the front pastedown).

First edition, in first issue, of Benivieni's Neoplatonic verse summary of the Libro dello amore, a commentary on Plato's Symposium that was strongly influenced by the Ficinian theory of love. The work is famous for containing the first eye-witness account ever printed of Savonarola's famous Bonfire of the Vanities, held in the Piazza della Signoria during the Carnival on 7 February 1497.

Benivieni, a prolific versifier of conventionally Petrarchian love poems, was a close friend of both Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499) and Giovanni Francesco Pico (1469-1533), nephew of Giovanni Pico della Mirandola whose only work in Italian was a prose commentary on Benivieni's Canzone, at the time still unpublished but paraphrased by the latter, and inserted into the present edition. The volume was printed by Tubini, Alopa, and Ghirlandi during their short partnership in 1499-1500, and the publication is one of only three stating their names. The preliminary leaves contain Benivieni's dedicatory epistle to Giovanni Francesco Pico, while his dedication to Niccolo Vicecomite da Coreggio is printed on fol. r5v.

The Florentine humanists Benivieni, Ficino, and Pico della Mirandola were all contemporaries of Girolamo Savonarola (1452-1498) and ardent admirers and supporters of his reform ideas, as were the three printers Tubini, Alopa, and Ghirlandi. It was in this cultural and social context that the present edition appeared. In 1496, Benivieni translated Savonarola's De simplicitate, and one of the most remarkable inclusions of this collection is the first printed eye-witness account of the famous 'bruciamento' at the bequest of Savonarola, the Bonfire of the Vanities held in the Piazza della Signoria during the Carnival on 7 February 1497. This Canzone (fols. oo6r-oo7r) offers a detailed list of the 'lascivious, vain and detestable objects' that were thrown on the fire, including paintings, musical instruments, feminine ornaments, dice, cards, and other such works of Satan.

The edition is known in two variants: the copy presented here belongs to the first issue with the colophon dated 7 September, and has the lines 24-25 of the table on fol. [π]3r.

H *2788; GW 3850; BMC VI, 693; IGI 1481; Goff B-328; Rhodes Firenze, 106; A. Jacobson Schutte, Printed Italian Vernacular Religious Books (1465-1550). A Finding List, Genève 1983, p. 72; R. Ridolfi, “Girolamo Benivieni e una sconosciuta revisione del suo Canzoniere”, La Bibliofilia, 66 (1964), pp. 49-62; R. Leporatti, “Canzone e Sonetti di Girolamo Benivieni fiorentino. Edizione critica”, Interpres, 27 (2008), pp. 144-298 (esp. pp. 156-161); A. Giaccaria, “I libri della Certosa di Casotto alla fine del Cinquecento”, R. Comba - G. Comino (eds.), Dal manoscritto al libro a stampa nel Piemonte sud-occidentale, pp. 169-199; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 44.


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.

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 Aldine Lucianus, bound by the Mendoza Binder

63. Lucianus Samosatensis (125–182)

Opuscula Erasmo Roterodamo interprete. Aldo Manuzio's heirs and Andrea Torresano, May 1516.

8° (165x93 mm). Collation: a-z8, aa-ff8, gg6. 236 (misnumbered 136), [2] leaves. Italic and roman type. Woodcut Aldine device on the title-page and on the verso of the last leaf. Blank spaces for capitals, with printed guide letters. Handsome contemporary Venetian binding, executed by Andrea di Lorenzo, also known as the Mendoza Binder. Red morocco, over pasteboards. Covers framed within border of blind and gilt fillets, small leaves and rosettes in gilt. In the rectangular interior space, foliate cornerpieces and an arabesque fleuron, composed of three elements. At the top of the upper cover the inscription 'LVCIANI DIAL' in gilt lettering. Traces of holes for ties on the edges. Spine with three double bands alternating with four single bands, underlined by narrow gilt frieze, compartments blind tooled. Gilt and gauffered edges, in knotwork pattern. Minor loss at the top of the spine, small stain to the lower cover. A good copy, the first two leaves once stuck together and damaged, with loss of a few letters or words, owing to the censorial attempt to eliminate the dedicatory epistle by Erasmus. The last leaves slightly waterstained. The occurrences of Erasmus' name censored and deleted in ink throughout.

Provenance: on the title-page an earlier ownership inscription covered with paper, and small oval stamp inked out; the British botanist and politician Charles Carmichael (1853-1933), and Mary Laicata, Selham Sussex (ex-libris on the front pastedown); his sale at Sotheby's in the 1950s, lot 190 (inserted loose a ticket in the hand of John Pashby, active at the time at Sotheby's, 'Lucian 1516', and lot number).

The rare first Aldine edition of Lucian's Opuscula, edited for Andrea Torresano by the pre-eminent Dutch humanist Erasmus of Rotterdam (1466-1536), presented here in a strictly contemporary red morocco binding executed by one of the best and most sought-after Venetian binders: Andrea di Lorenzo, active in Venice between 1518 and 1555 and known as the 'Mendoza Binder' after his principal client, the Spanish ambassador in Venice and great bibliophile Diego Hurtado de Mendoza. The most inventive and in-demand Venetian binder of the mid-sixteenth century, he also worked for other important book collectors, such as Jean Grolier, Johann Jakob Fugger, and Antoine Perrenot de Granvelle.

Andrea di Lorenzo had a close relationship with the Manutius-Torresano printing house. Until about 1525, the Venetian binder seems to have mainly worked for the Anchor and Dolphin bookshop near Rialto Bridge, decorating the bindings with characteristic features such as rectangular frames of fillets, rosettes, arabesque leaves, fleurons, and lozenges. For distinguished customers, he added the author and title in gilt lettering at the top of the upper cover, or their names at the foot of the same. His decorative patterning and innovative style were particularly influential, inspiring generations of binders in France and Germany.

“The Manuzio-Torresano partnership did not employ a binder – or, at least, no binder producing tooled leather covers – during the elder Aldus's lifetime. After his death Andrea Torresano introduced a binder from outside (since [...] the Mendoza Binder was probably not a Venetian by birth) to improve sales and perhaps clear a backlog of unsold stock. Rather that the 'Aldine Binder' [...] the man in question would more appropriately have been called the 'Torresano Binder'” (A. Hobson, Renaissance Book Collecting, p. 107).

For similar examples see Anthony Hobson's census of the bindings by the Mendoza Binder in his Renaissance Book Collecting (Appendix 5, p. 247); see plate no. 46, showing a copy of the 1516 edition of Ovid's Metamorphoses decorated with grouped arabesque leaves and preserved in the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York.

Adams L-1624; Renouard Alde, 76.2; Ahmanson-Murphy 145; Bibliotheca Erasmiana Bruxellensis, 470; Hobson, Renaissance Book Collecting, App. 5, p. 247; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 63.

A well-preserved wallet binding

71. Erasmus, Desiderius (1466-1536)

Paraphrases in omnes epistolas Pauli germanas, & in omnes Canonicas. Johann Froben, March 1521.

Four parts in one volume, 8° (168x114 mm). Collation: a-z8, aa-mm8; nn-tt8; A-L8, M10; N-Q8, R10. 473 of [474] leaves, lacking the last blank leaf. Roman and italic type. Each title within a fine woodcut border; the first, second and third border also including Froben's printer's device. Woodcut section borders on fols. a6v, l7r, t7v, dd7v, gg7r, ii6r, ll3v, nn5r, ss3v, tt5r, and A5r. Larger printer's devices on fols. mm8v, M10v, and R9v, with some variants. Numerous woodcut animated initials in different sizes, mostly on black ground, the initial on fol. a2r on ten line, with the inscription 'DIOGENES. ARISTIPPVS'; woodcut headpieces. Contemporary wallet-style German binding, blind tooled pigskin over pasteboards, the lower cover overlapping the upper one. Covers within border of fillets and foliate roll, central spaces filled with floral and foliate tools. Spine with three raised bands, underlined by multiple fillets. Compartments decorated with floral motifs, trace of early inked title on the first one. Head-edge darkened. Metal attachments missing, a small hole to the upper cover. A very fine copy, with strong impression of the woodcut borders. A few paper flaws, loss to the blank outer lower corner of fol. nn1, not affecting the woodcut border. A few contemporary marginalia, and reading marks. Pencilled bibliographical notes on the recto of the front flyleaf; on the front pastedown, the inked note '88-76-5'.

Provenance: John Jermain Slocum, the famous Joyce collector, and Joyce co-bibliographer (1914-1997; pencilled note on the recto of the front flyleaf, 'Ex Coll. John Slocum'); Arthur and Charlotte Vershbow, acquired from Goodspeed's Book Shop, 1975 (ex-libris on the front pastedown; see The Collection of Arthur & Charlotte Vershbow, Christie's New York, 9-10 April 2013, lot 170).

A fine copy – from the celebrated library of Arthur and Charlotte Vershbow – of the first edition of this important work by Erasmus, rarely found complete with all four parts and presented here in its original, well-preserved wallet-style binding.

The first part of the Froben edition contains Erasmus' paraphrases of the Romans, Corinthians, and Galatians; the second part covers those of Timothy, Jude, James and John; and the third part is devoted to the canonical letters of Peter, Jude, James and John. This Basel edition also contains, as a fourth and final part, the paraphrases of the letters to the Hebrews (In epistolam Pauli apostoli ad Hebraeos paraphrasis per Erasmum Roterodamum extrema), which is not mentioned on the title-page nor in the list of contents. The text of this section was printed on five quires added during the printing, and owing to this circumstance complete copies with all four parts very rarely appear on the market.

The present edition is also praised for the fine title borders and initials, some of them – like that on fol. b5r – were cut by Johann Faber after drawings by the renowned artist Hans Holbein the Younger, who often worked for Froben. The border on fol. A1 is instead signed by Ursus Graf, with his monogram 'VG'.

A further point of great interest in this copy is its blind-tooled pigskin binding, a handsome example of wallet-style binding, in which the lower cover extends along its length, folding over the fore-edge. This sort of binding was adopted to protect precious manuscripts against the possibility of getting damaged, and it was also used in intensively-used volumes such as account books, textbooks, prayer books, archival documents, and more generally for volumes intended to be carried around by their owners, merchants, school masters, or – as the content of Erasmus' volume suggests – preachers. Few of these bindings have survived.

Adams E-793; VD16 E-3375; STC German 115; Heckethorn, The Printers of Basle, 170; Bezzel 1526; Bibliotheca Erasmiana Bruxellensis, 325; F. Hieronymus, Basler Buchillustration 1500 bis 1545, Basel 1984, no. 374; C. Müller, Hans Holbein d. J. Die Druckgraphik im Kupferstichkabinett, Basel 1997, no. 24; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 71.

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.

A book for affluent bibliophiles

103. Colonna, Francesco (ca. 1433-1527)

La Hypnerotomachia di Poliphilo, cioe pugna d’amore in sogno. Dou’egli mostra, che tutte le cose humane non sono altro che Sogno: & doue narra molt’altre cose degne di cognitione. Sons of Aldo Manuzio, 1545.

Folio (286x195 mm). Collation: [π]4, a-y8, z10, A-E8, F4. [234] leaves. Roman type. Aldine device on the title-page and verso of the last leaf. 172 woodcuts, eleven of which are full page. Blank spaces for capitals, with printed guide letters. Contemporary vellum over pasteboards with yapp edges and running stitches to spine. Smooth spine with title and date inked in black. A very good copy. First quire slightly browned. A few marginal fingermarks, pale waterstain to the upper corners of fols. a2 and a3. Minor foxing. more prominent on first two quires and the margins and woodcuts of fols. k8, l1r, and l2. Small repair to lower inner corners of fols. a1v and a2r, and to fol. E1r, without any loss; larger repair to fol. a4, affecting some letters on the recto and verso;. Some bibliographic notes in pencil on the front and rear pastedowns.

The rare second edition of the Poliphilo, the most famous illustrated book of the Renaissance. The first edition was printed by Aldus Manutius in 1499 (see no. 43), and the new printing of 1545 suggests a renewed interest in the work, in Italy as well as abroad, for within a year a French translation also appeared, followed by an English translation in 1592.

The second edition is a page-for-page reprint: the book was printed by Aldus' heirs employing the same woodblocks as the 1499 edition, with the exception of seven that were either broken or missing. The redesigned and newly cut woodcuts are found on fols. b4v, b5r, e2v, e5r, o3v, q5v, and x2r.

The text was set in a different roman type. “A single roman type has been used in a single body, although in 1545 the current state of typography offered the possibility of differentiation on roman and italic (both letter forms had small capitals). But there is a major difference: where there were printed initials in 1499 [...] here, in 1545, the printer has left open blank spaces, in which a guide letter has been printed for the illuminator who could then paint in a beautiful initial by the buyer's order [...] this means that the son of Aldus [Paulus Manutius] felt that the market for this book was with affluent bibliophiles: he produced an edition intended to be transformed into a deluxe copy by the buyer. What is special is that in 1545 this fashion had all but passed, so that this edition may be termed an anacronism” (F. A. Janssen, “The Typographical Design of the 'Poliphilus' (1499-1600)”, p. 69). Further, in 1545 the title of the book was here translated into Italian as La Hypnerotomachia di Poliphilo, with the added phrase Dov'egli mostra, che tutte le cose humane non sono altro che Sogno, the author demonstrating in his book “that all human things are nothing but a dream”.

Adams C-2414; Mortimer Italian, 131; Renouard Alde, 133.14; Ahmanson-Murphy 335; L. Donati, “Di una copia tra le figure del Polifilo (1499) ed altre osservazioni”, La Bibliofilia, 64 (1962), pp. 163-183; G. Mardersteig, “Osservazioni tipografiche sul Polifilo nelle edizioni del 1499 e 1545”, Contributi alla storia del libro italiano. Miscellanea in onore di Lamberto Donati, Firenze 1969, pp. 221-242; F. A. Janssen, “The Typographical Design of the 'Poliphilus' (1499-1600)”, Idem, Technique and Design in the History of Printing, 't Goy-Houten 2004, pp. 57-74; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 103.

105. Pincio, Giano Pirro (fl. 1st half of the 16th century)

De gestis ducum Tridentinorum. De Gallorum Senonum aduentu in Italiam. De origine vrbis Tridentinae. De appellatione et transitu Alpium. De confinibus Italiae. Libri duo. Venturino Ruffinelli, 1546.

Two parts in one volume, folio (310x205 mm). Collation: A-B8; †8, A-M8, N10. 16; [8], 104, [2] leaves. Complete with the last two leaves blank. Roman and italic type. Blank spaces for capitals, with printed guide letters. Contemporary limp vellum. Spine with three raised bands, with inked title. Outer corners of the upper cover skilfully repaired. A good, and genuine copy. A short inscription on the title-page inked out.

Rare first edition of the first printed and authoritative chronicle of Trent and surrounding regions, including what today forms South Tyrol, especially under its prince-bishops Georg Helideck (1505-1514), Bernardo Cles (1514-1539), and Cristoforo Madruzzo (1539-1567). The Mantuan humanist Pincio was court historian to Bishop Cles, and in 1539 was named poet laureate by Emperor Charles V; he dedicated his work to Aliprando, nephew of Bernardo, and especially noteworthy are the pages in which he describes the magnificent library assembled by the bishop in the palazzo vescovile in Trent.

Pincio adds to the chronicle De appellatione et transitu Alpium, a topography of the Tyrolian Alps and a guide to the alpine pass routes which contains the first reference in print to the Non Valley, mentioning Lake Tovel as the source of the tasty char that one can fish in the lake.

An Italian translation of the work was published in 1648.

G. Nova, Stampatori, librai ed editori bresciani in Italia del '500, Brescia 2000, p. 90; G. Tovazzi, Biblioteca tirolese, R. Stenico & I. Franceschini, eds., Trento 2006, p. 569; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 105.

Printed on blue paper

107. Calderia, Giovanni (1395-1474)

Concordantiae Poetarum Philosophorum &Theologorum... opus vere aureum, quod nunc primum in lucem prodijt ex antiquo exemplari Authoris.... Giuseppe Comino da Trino, 1547.

8° (150x93 mm). Printed on blue paper. Collation: *4, A-Z4, AA-YY4. [4], 179, [1] leaves. Roman and italic type. Woodcut printer's device on the title-page. Numerous woodcut animated initials. Early twentieth-century mottled calf, over pasteboards. Covers within two floral borders. Smooth spine divided into compartments with gilt fillet, gilt title on blue lettering-piece, imprint lettered in gilt. Pastedowns and flyleaves in blue paper. Good copy, the first leaves slightly spotted, last leaves somewhat browned. On the recto of the front flyleaf the pencilled note 'Papier bleu rare'.

Provenance: Count Raoul Chandon de Briailles (1850-1908; ex-libris on the recto of the first flyleaf).

Rare first edition – printed on blue paper – of this treatise by the Venetian physician Giovanni Calderia, possibly composed in 1457, and posthumously edited by Michelangelo Biondo, author of Della nobilissima pittura (see no. 108). The edition is dedicated by him to Francesco Donà.

Calderia wrote the Concordantiae Poetarum Philosophorum et Theologorum for his beloved daughter Cateruzza, in order to remove her from her excited religiousness: in fact, in 1451, Guarino Veronese's son asked for Cateruzza's hand in marriage but the pious sentiment of the girl, supported by her mother, caused the negotiations to fail. The work guaranteed to its author a certain reputation as a Platonic philosopher during the subsequent centuries.

This copy offered here was once owned by one of the greatest collectors of blue paper books: Raoul Chandon de Briailles, who may have purchased it from the library of Andrea Tessier, sold in Munich in 1900 by the bookseller Jacques Rosenthal, which contained a copy “tiré sur papier bleu” (lot 519, in the section “Particularités. Imprimées sur vélin, sur papier bleu. Elzevier non rognés. Minuscules etc”).

Brunet I, 1470; Bibliothek Tessier. Katalog eins grossen Theils der Bibliotheken des verstorbenen Chevalier Andrea Tessier und des Marchese de***. Versteigerunge in München vom 21.-23. Mai 1900 durch Jacques Rosenthal, München 1900; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 107.

The Great Apollo and Pegasus Myth

118. Plutarchus (ca. 45-120)

La prima [- seconda] parte delle Vite... nuouamente da M. Lodouico Domenichi tradotte. Con due tauole, le quali sono poste nel fine della seconda parte.... Gabriele Giolito de' Ferrari and Brothers, 1555.

Two volumes, 4° (256x168 mm). I. Collation: *4, A-Z8, AA-ZZ8, AAA-PPP8. [8], 973, [3] pages. Roman and italic type. Woodcut printer's device on the recto of fol. PPP8. II. Two parts. Collation: †4, a-z8, aa-kk8, ll4; aaa-fff8, ggg4. [8], 535, [1]; [104] pages. Roman and italic type. Woodcut printer's device on both title-pages, and a smaller version at the end of each part. Woodcut animated initials, and headpieces.

Handsome Venetian bindings, executed around 1555 by Anthon Lodewijk. Gilt-tooled red morocco, over pasteboards. Gilt and blind fillet borders. Central medallion with radiating tongues-of-flame within lobed panel, the two volumes slightly differently tooled with solid outline and azure tools. The central medallion of the first volume overstamped with forged Apollo and Pegasus plaquette. Spines with five double raised bands, decorated with one, and outlined with two gilt fillets. Compartments gilt, open circle border at the head and foot of the spines. Edges of the boards decorated with a double vertical line in blind. Edges gilt and gauffered with double dotted-line frame. Missing four ties, probably in red silk. Vol. 1 with minor repairs to the corners, rebacked preserving most of the original backstrip, some gilding renewed. Skilful repairs to the corners and joint of vol. 2, a little worming in flyleaves. In modern cloth solander cases, in brown for vol. 1 (on the spine 'PLUTARCHIS VENEZIA 1555 CANEVARI'), and in green for vol. 2 ('PLUTARCHA [SIC] LA SECONDA PARTE DELLE VITE, VENETIAN BINDING VENICE 1555'). A fine copy, some spotting. Minor ink stain in the first volume, a few leaves uniformly browned. On the recto of the front flyleaf of the first volume, the inked note 'Reliure Canevari Iere moitié du XVime S. Genes'.

Provenance: Pietro Benincasa (ownership inscription on the title-pages 'Pietro Benincasa', partly removed from the first volume); Curtio Bertini, from Colle val d'Elsa (sixteenth-century ownership inscriptions on the title-pages, 'Di Curtio Bertini' and 'Di Curtio Bertini da Colle' partly removed from the first volume). By the early twentieth century the two volumes became separated:

Vol. 1: the bookseller in Florence Tammaro De Marinis (1878-1969), 1911; early twentieth-century ex-libris engraved by Stern on the front pastedown, eradicated; Cartier library (sale Sotheby's Monaco, 28 November 1979, lot 1366); GDV (monogram blindstamp on the title-page); Rossignol (sale Paris, Valleriaux expert, 27 February 2003, lot 557); Michel Wittock (see The Michel Wittock Collection. Part I: Important Renaissance Bookbindings, Christie's London 2004, no. 97).

Vol. 2: Baron de Sant'Anna (sale Brussels 16 May 1925, lot 105); Michel Wittock (ex-libris on the front pastedown; see The Michel Wittock Collection. Part i: Important Renaissance Bookbindings, Christie's London 2004, no. 97).

A remarkable copy, in its original Venetian binding, of the first edition of Domenichi's Italian translation of the Vitae by the Greek historian Plutarch. The two volumes have only recently been reunited after a century's separation; they were bound around 1555 by the famous Flemish craftsman Anthon Lodewijk or Lowies, who was active in Venice between 1553 and 1557.

Anthon Lodewijk “seems to have arrived in Venice not later than 1553. In his mature work he imitated the style of the 'Mendoza Binder' or the 'Fugger Binder', but using his own kit of Italian tools. These are found in presentation copies of books printed by Giolito in 1554, 1556 and 1557, for his distinguished clientele, which included among others Jakob Fugger and Antoine Perrenot de Granvelle. Lodewijk probably left Venice soon afterwards and is next found in Augsburg binding Greek manuscripts and printed books for Johann Jakob Fugger and decorating them with the Italian tools brought from Venice” (Hobson-Culot, Italian and French 16th-Century Bookbindings, p. 43).

These volumes demonstrate his more mature, elaborate Venetian style; in all likelihood the bindings were executed on behalf of the printer Giolito for a notable recipient. For a similar binding see for example the copy of the Giolito edition of Musso's Prediche (1554) presented by the Venetian printer to the Duchess of Urbino, Vittoria Farnese della Rovere (see Hobson, Renaissace Book Collecting, p. 131, pl. 80).

By the early twentieth century the two volumes had become separated, and the first one now offers a striking example of a perfectly genuine Renaissance binding to which a forged medallion had been added. In fact, on its cover a forged Apollo and Pegasus round plaquette was carefully applied, possibly before 1911, when it appeared in a catalogue published by the Libreria De Marinis in Florence. The volume was later seen in Sotheby's sale of the Cartier library in Monaco on 28 November 1979. The Apollo and Pegasus medallion may have been made either in the nineteenth century by the best known Apollo and Pegasus forger, the Milanese binder Vittorio Villa (d. 1892), who often worked for Guglielmo Libri; or later, in the first quarter of the twentieth century by Domenico Conti-Borbone, another bookbinder active in Milan who had inherited Villa's tools after his death. These skilful forgeries were sought by some collectors as specimens of fine Renaissance bindings or desirable curiosities.

STC Italian 528 (vol. 1 only); Bongi Annali, pp. 479-480 (“É difficile trovare uniti i due volumi”); H. Harrisse, “Les falsification bolognaises. Reliures et livres”, Bulletin du Bibliophile, (1902), pp. 428-442, 445-666, 505-523; (1903), pp. 449-452; De Marinis, Legatura artistica in Italia, I, no. 3146, pl. 4 (vol. 1); M. Wittock, “À propos de reliures, vraies ou frelatées, au médallion d'Apollon et Pégase”, Bulletin du Bibliophile, (1998), pp. 330-336 (no. 33, only vol. 1); M. Wittock, “Il medaglione di Apollo e Pegaso”, L'oggetto libro 2000, no. 37 (only vol. 2); A. Hobson, Renaissance Book Collecting, App. 9, nos. 9a-b; Hobson-Culot, Italian and French 16th-Century Bookbindings, no. 15 (only vol. 2); Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 118.

The Cesi 'Seven Hills’

125. Plutarchus (ca. 45-120)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blue paper used by a Milanese printer

129. Davidico, Lorenzo (1513-1574)

Columba animae... Quae in hoc opere continentur. De Columba animae in Deo proficientis, De congrua gratioris nominis electione, De mira summi Pontificis dignitate. Vincenzo Girardoni, 1562.

4° (252x182 mm). Printed on blue paper. Collation: A-N4. [2], 50 leaves. Roman and italic type. Woodcut arms of Pope Pius IV on the title-page. Woodcut vignettes on fols. A1v, F2r, and I4v. Numerous woodcut animated and decorated initials. Eighteenth-century marbled calf, covers within a gilt chain border. Smooth spine, richly gilt tooled with leafy pomegranate and volutes, title in gilt lettering. Marbled pastedowns. Very good copy, title-page remargined to the outer and lower sides, without any loss.

Provenance: 'D. Petrucci' and 'N. Lagomaggiore' (ownership inscriptions on the verso of the front flyleaf); Aldo Ravà (1879-1923; ex-libris on the front pasteboard).

A rare edition, and the only known copy printed on blue paper, of this mystical work by the enigmatic preacher Paolo Lorenzo Castellino from Castelnovetto (Vercelli), known by the name of Lorenzo Davidico, a disciple of Battista da Crema. Davidico was involved in an interesting and complex inquisitorial case, to which the Columba animae and its mystic content are a striking testimony.

In 1555, Davidico was imprisoned on the charge of curses and sodomy, but “his repeated and exaggerated declarations of orthodoxy and his violent (thought not particularly original) attacks on the Lutheran heresy [...] procured for him not only 'absolution' for his writings but also the glories of Counter-Reformation spirituality” (G. Caravale, Forbidden prayer, p. 51). In fact, despite repeated attempts to incriminate him, the Roman Inquisition failed to find any trace of heresy in his books, and even given his long stay in prison, Davidico remained untouched by censorship.

The Columba animae is dedicated to Pope Pius IV and is Davidico's last work to appear in print. It also contains – as a statement of his probity and righteousness – his spiritual testament, written on 30 July 1560 in Morbegno, in the low Valtellina Valley.

M. Firpo, Nel labirinto del mondo. Lorenzo Davidico tra santi, eretici, inquisitori, Firenze 1992; D. Marcatto, Il processo inquisitoriale di Lorenzo Davidico (1555-1560), Firenze 1992; G. Caravale, Forbidden Prayer, Farnham 2011, pp. 51-54; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 129.

Foscolo’s 'divine Plutarchus'

148. Plutarchus (ca. 45-120)

Plutarchi Chaeronensis quae extant opera, cum Latina interpretatione. Ex vetustis codicibus plurima nunc primùm emendata sunt, vt ex Henr. Stephani annotationibus intelliges: quibus & suam quorundam libellorum interpretationem adiunxit. Aemylii Probi De vita excellentium imperatorum liber. Henri Estienne, 1572.

Seven volumes, 8° (174x105 mm). I. Collation: *8, a-z8, Aa-Cc8. 16, 778, 2 of [6] pages, lacking the blank Cc7 and Cc8, but complete with the blank Cc6. II. Collation: aa-zz8, AA-PP8. [2], 781-1381, 3 of [5] pages, lacking the blank PP8, but complete with the blank PP7. III. Collation: aaa-zzz8, AAA-YYY8. [2], 1389-2101, 3 of [5] pages, lacking the blank YYY8, but complete with the blank YYY7. IV. Collation: a-z8, A-M8, N10; 579, [1] pages. V. Collation: a6, b8, Cc-Zz8, aA-rR8. [2], 583-1213, [3] pages. VI. Collation: Aa-Zz8, Aaa-Vvv8, Xxx10. [2], 1219-1923, [1] pages. VII. Collation: [A]-[M]8, [N]6, [O]-[Z]8, [AA]-[FF]8, [GG]4. 467, [1] pages. Complete with fol. [N]6 blank. The set comprises only the Greek portion of the edition, and therefore does not include the volumes containing the Latin translation of Plutarch's work. For this reason, volume VII includes – as in most of the recorded copies – the Appendix, but not the final Index rerum et verborum. Greek, roman, and italic type. Woodcut printer's device on the title-page of the first volume. Woodcut decorated initials and headpieces. Eighteenth-century uniform binding, vellum over pasteboards. Smooth spine, divided into compartments by gilt fillets; title and volume numbering in gold on double green morocco lettering-piece. A set in good condition, leaves uniformly browned, some foxing. A pale spot to the upper margin of the first leaf of text in each volume due to an ownership inscription that was later erased.

Provenance: the Italian poet Ugo Foscolo (1778-1827; white wax-stamp with the initials 'L.F.' on the front pastedown of the first volume; a loose paper slip is inserted in the same volume, bearing the hand written note 'N. 1552 du Catalogue de la Bibliothèque du Monsignor Foscolo vendu par autorité de justice de la Depositeria urbana pas le Ministere de libre Agazzi. La 1ere vente devais avoir lieu le 4 xmbre 1843 mais enfait la vente n'a eu lieu qu'en 1844 et le N. 1552 n'a été vendu qu'à la vacation en date du 22 mars 1844'). In Foscolo's own hand the emendations on fols. Aa2r and Aa8 of the sixth volume, and some underlining in red pencil.

An exceptional set of the first complete edition of Plutarch's works, edited by Henri Estienne “avec correction et elegance” (Renouard), and once owned by the outstanding Italian poet and patriot Ugo Foscolo. The seven-volume set includes only the Greek part of Estienne's publication, supplemented with his Appendix.

Foscolo's interest in the 'divine Plutarchus' was already evident in his famous epistolary novel Le ultime lettere di Jacopo Ortis (see no. 258), in which Plutarch's works are the beloved reading of the main character. Foscolo began to write the Discorsi sopra gli uomini illustri di Plutarco at the beginning of the nineteenth century; of this work, only the Proemio or Preface – dated 1 January 1801 – was completed. On 25 July of the same year he was appointed director of an office in Milan created to put into writing the military code of the Cisalpine Republic, which had been established in 1797; on 3 August he was moved to the fourth section of this office and charged with the writing of disciplinary and penal rules. For this purpose, in a letter addressed on 7 August to the Minister of War, Vincenzo Lancetti, Foscolo requested some books, which he considered necessary for his writing, among others “Plutarco. Vite degli uomini illustri”, i.e., Plutarch's Parallel Lives. The missing publication date forbids certain identification of the Plutarch edition which was later supplied by Lancetti, and the subsequent course of Foscolo's private library is very complex. His collection was bought by his friend Quirina Mocenni Magiotti in 1816, when Foscolo decided to self-exile himself in London, and it later came mostly into the possession of the Biblioteca Marucelliana in Florence: among the books recorded in the Florentine library is the Italian-language edition of Vite di Plutarco volgarizzate da Girolamo Pompei, printed in Verona between 1772 and 1773. The volumes of this Italian Plutarch bear the ownership inscription 'Ugo Foscolo Firenze M.DCCC.I'. It is known that Foscolo sejourned in Florence until 25 March 1801; therefore, the Veronese publication cannot be the edition given to Foscolo in Milan after 7 August 1801, the date of his letter to Vincenzo Lancetti. The copy given by him on that occasion may thus actually be the set of volumes described here.

Renouard Estienne 134.2; Schreiber Estienne, 179; Schweiger I, 259; G. Gambarin, Scritti letterari e politici: dal 1796 al 1808, U. Foscolo, Edizione Nazionale, Firenze 1972, vol. VI, pp. LXIII-LXIV; La biblioteca fiorentina del Foscolo nella Biblioteca Marucelliana. Premessa di L. Caretti; introduzione, catalogo, appendice di G. Nicoletti. Firenze [1978]; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 148.

Cardinal Bourbon’s Cardano

153. Cardano, Girolamo (1501-1576)

In Cl. Ptolemaei de astrorum iudiciis... lib. IIII commentaria... Hic accesserunt... De septem erraticarum stellarum qualitatibus atque viribus... Geniturarum item XII... Cunradi Dasypodii... scholia et resolutiones... in... Apostelesmaticos Cl. Ptolomaei. Heinrich Petri, September 1578.

Folio (320x195 mm). Collation: a8, A-Z8, Aa-Ll8, 2Aa-Ff8, 2Gg10, 3Aa-Bb8, 3Cc6, 3Dd2, 3Ee-Ff8, 3Gg6, 3Hh4, 3Ll10. [16], 510, [2], 602-838 [i.e. 834], [2] pages. Roman, italic, and Greek type. Woodcut printer's device on the verso of the last leaf. Title-page with woodcut portrait of Cardanus within a cartouche. Woodcut animated and decorated initials. Numerous woodcut diagrams in the text. Fine contemporary French olive morocco over pasteboards, executed for Charles Cardinal de Bourbon. Covers within triple gilt fillet border. Smooth spine with the cardinal's arms and his device with the motto 'SVPERAT CANDORE ET ODORE'; title lettered in gilt at the head. Board edges with single fillet, gilt edges. A few old abrasions to the covers, repair to the upper ones, joints a little rubbed, corners lightly bumped. In a modern green cloth solander box. A very fine copy, minor loss to the lower outer corner of the title-page, not affecting text; tears to fol. Aa6, without any loss. On the verso of the rear flyleaf a cutting taken from an unidentified sale catalogue, describing this copy as lot 99, 'folio, olive morocco, gilt leaves, with Arms and Device of Charles de Bourbon (Charles X. of the League) on back'.

Provenance: Cardinal Charles de Bourbon, Archbishop of Rouen (1520-1590; armorial binding); from the library of William Beckford (1760-1844; the pencilled shelfmark '353-31'; see the sale at Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge, The Hamilton Palace Libraries. Catalogue of The First Portion of the Beckford Library, removed from Hamilton Palace, London, June 1882, lot 1579, “olive morocco, gilt edges, with arms and device of Charles de Bourbon (Charles X of the League) stamped in gold on back”; lot description is pasted into the front pastedown of this copy); purchased by Dodgson for £55; Henry J. B. Clements (1869-1940; ex-libris on the front pastedown); Edwards (signature on the verso of the front flyleaf 'Edwards June 1895.'); the Paris bookseller Georges Heilbrun (Catalogue 37, 1972, no. 37); Michel Wittock (ex-libris on the front pastedown; see The Michel Wittock Collection. Part I: Important Renaissance Bookbindings, Christie's London 2004, lot 31).

A magnificent copy – bound for the French cardinal Charles de Bourbon – of the third edition of this compilation of astrological works by the renowned physician, natural philosopher, mathematician, and astrologer from Milan Girolamo Cardano. The first part consists of his translation into Latin of Ptolemy's Tetrabiblos, along with his commentary. The first edition of Cardano's collection issued from Heinrich Petri's press appeared in 1554; the 1557 publication is the first to be supplemented with commentary by the mathematician Conradus Dasypodius (1532-1600), who suppressed, from the section Genitura exempla devoted to individual horoscopes of great men, the famous horoscope of Jesus Christ and inserted instead a short description of the clock in the cathedral of Strasbourg, which Dasypodius had constructed in collaboration with the Habrecht brothers from Schaffhausen.

The edition is presented here in a splendid copy once owned by Charles de Bourbon, Archbishop of Rouen, who was proclaimed Charles X of France by the Catholic League in 1589 following the assassination of Henry III. For his exquisite library, Charles de Bourbon commissioned bindings of the greatest elegance, executed by renowned binders in the soberer style in vogue in the last decades of the sixteenth century: the covers of this volume are simply tooled with three gilt fillets, and the spine bears his coat of arms, along with the his device with the motto 'SVPERAT CANDORE ET ODORE'.

Most of de Bourbon's library eventually went to the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, with a few books remaining in private hands. In the nineteenth century, this copy was in possession of the great bibliophile and art collector William Beckford, whose impressive library was sold in 1882. “Mr. Beckford's exquisite taste and judgement rendered him a perfect enthusiast in collecting literary bijoux, especially of works exhibiting the bibliopegistic skill of the most eminent binders [...] Mr. Beckford was indefatigable in watching all the great sales in London and Paris, eagerly securing copies of works bearing the arms and devices of eminent collectors [...] His collection is rich in works bearing the arms or devices of Francis I, of Henry II and Diane de Poitiers, Henry III [...] including excessively rare specimens of Cardinal de Bourbon” (The Hamilton Palace Libraries. Catalogue of The First Portion of the Beckford Library, pp. iii-iv).

Adams C-682; STC German 719; Houzeau - Lancaster 4856; Riccardi I, 254.7; Olivier 2617 (tools 2, 3); Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 153.

Bruno and the revival of Lullism in the Renaissance

154. [Giordano Bruno]. Lull Ramón (1232-1316)

Opusculum Raymundinum De auditu Kabbalistico siue ad omnes scientias introductorium... Paris, Gilles Gorbin, 1578. (bound with:) Idem. Ars brevis illuminatis Doctoris Magistri Raymundi Lull. Quae est ad omnes scientias pauco & breui tempore assequendas introductorium & breuis via... Paris, Gilles Gorbin, 1578. (bound with:) Bruno, Giordano (1548-1600). Philoteus Iordanus Brunus Nolanus De compendiosa architectura, & complementi artis Lullij. Ad illustriss. D.D. Ioannem Morum pro serenissima Venetorum R.p. apud Christianissimum Gallorum & Polonorum regem, legatum. Gilles Gorbin, 1582.

Three works in one volume, 16° (113x69 mm). I. Collation: A-K8. 82 [i.e. 80, omitted leaves 63 and 66] leaves. Roman and italic type. Woodcut printer's device on the title-page. Six plates hors-texte, including one folding (TABVLA GENERALIS), and one with a volvelle between fols. B4 and B5. The outer margin of one plate trimmed. Woodcut diagrams in the text. Woodcut headpiece, decorated initials. II. Collation: A-F8. [48] leaves. Roman and italic type. Woodcut printer's device on the title-page. Two plates hors-texte, both folding (SECVNDA FIGVRA; TABVLA GENERALIS). Three full-page woodcuts, one on the verso of fol. B2 with volvelles. Woodcut decorated initials. III. Collation: A-E8, F4. 43 of 44 leaves, lacking fol. F4 blank. Roman and italic type. Two plates hors-texte, including one folding containing the two volvelles still uncut to be mounted on fol. B8v. Fol. B3 folded with large woodcut on the verso. Diagrams and woodcut illustrations. Woodcut head- and tailpieces, decorated initials. Eighteenth-century half-calf, brown-paper covers. Smooth spine divided into compartments by gilt fillets, title in gold on hazel-brown morocco lettering-piece (faded). Edges speckled red. A well-preserved volume, some browning and spotting. In the third edition bound, the upper margin of a few leaves slightly trimmed. The pencilled note ‘Philosoph. iv' on the rear pastedown. Some early underlining in the second edition bound. On the title-page of the third one the note 'V. Vogt p. 116', related to Johannis Vogt's Catalogus historico-criticus librorum rariorum (Hamburg 1747).

Provenance: 'Kellner' (ownership inscription on the recto of the front flyleaf); Royal Library in Berlin (old stamp in red ink on the verso of the title-page of the first edition bound; copy sold).

Fine miscellaneous volume with three rare editions, including the first edition of the De compendiosa architectura by Giordano Bruno, which offers striking evidence of the revival of Lullism in the Renaissance, as well as its lasting influence.

The volume opens with the famous De auditu Kabbalistico, which previously appeared in Venice in 1518 and 1538. Also known as the Opusculum Raymundinum, the work was traditionally attributed to the prominent thirteenth-century Catalan philosopher and theologian Lullus, but according to Paola Zambelli it was instead composed – and anonymously published – by the Ferrarese physician Pietro Mainardi, who tried to reconcile the Lullian method with Kabala.

The second Lull edition bound here is the equally rare Ars brevis, the popular compendium of his Ars magna generalis which was composed in 1308 and published for the first time in 1481.

Both works by the Doctor illuminatus had notable influence on Giordano Bruno, who had read them under the guide of his master in Naples, Teofilo da Varano. It is therefore not surprising that the unknown earliest owner had also bound in this 'Lullian' miscellany a copy of the rare De compendiosa architectura, & complementi artis Lullij, in which the philosopher from Nola offers one of the most convincing presentations of his original synthesis between the combinatoric method of the Ars Lulliana and the classical art of memory, as his use of mnemonic wheels especially testifies. The De compendiosa architectura is dedicated to the Venetian ambassador in Paris, Giovanni Moro, and is the third work printed by Bruno, after the De umbris idearum and the Cantus Circaeus. The eight woodcuts included in the edition were in all likelihood designed and cut by Bruno himself. Among them, four are based on Lull's alphabetical wheels.

Between fols. B7 and B8 the folding plate is still present in its original uncut form containing the two volvelles to be mounted (“Hi duo circulli includentur in eo circulo qui habetur folio 16.”) on Lull's alphabetical wheel on the verso of fol. B8. For other Bruno's works in this catalogue see nos. 161 and 183.

I. STC French 292; Palau 143.864; Caillet 6846; Duveen, p. 370; Rogent y Duran, no. 121. II. STC French 292; Palau, 14370-14384; Duveen, p. 370, Rogent y Duran, no. 120. III. Adams B-2953; STC French 84; Salvestrini, Bibliografia, no. 40; Sturlese, Bibliografia, no. 3; M. Gabrieli, Giordano Bruno. Corpus Iconographicum, Milano 2001, pp. 125-153; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 154.

The first Elzevier book

160. Drusius, Johannes (1550-1616)

Ebraicarum Quaestionum, sive, Quaestionum ac Responsionum libri duo, videlicet secundus ac tertius. Leiden, Lodewijk Elzevier [and Jan Paets Jacobszoon], 1583. (bound with:) Idem. Quaestionum ac responsionum liber. In quo varia scripturae loca explicantur aut emendantur. Indices tres. [Jan Paets Jacobszoon], 1583.

Two works in one volume, 8° (158x102 mm). I. Collation: A-H8. 126, [2] pages. Roman, Greek, and italic type. Woodcut printer's device on the title-page and coat of arms of the city of Leiden on fol. A8v. II. Collation: A-D8, E4. 72 pages. Roman, Greek, and italic type. Woodcut printer's device on the title-page. Contemporary vellum, traces of ties. Smooth spine with inked title. A very good, unsophisticated copy. Wormhole in the outer margin, partially restored, and occasionally slightly affecting the text; some light browning.

The first book published by the leading printer and bookseller Lodewijk Elzevier: the first edition of the Ebraicarum quaestiones by the Flemish Hebraist Johannes van den Driesche, better known as Johannes Drusius, professor of Oriental languages at Oxford, Louvain, and later active as a professor of Hebrew at the universities of Leiden and Franeker. The volume also contains a copy of another edition by Drusius, printed contemporaneously. Both works are usually found bound together in the recorded copies.

Lodewijk or Louis was the founder of the famous Elzevier dynasty of publishers, printers and booksellers; throughout the seventeenth century, the Elzevier house represented the most important publishing house in Europe, and it remained active until 1791. Lodewijk began his career as a bookbinder at the workshop of Christophe Plantin in Antwerp. In 1580 he settled in his hometown of Leiden to serve as bookbinder and bookseller at the new university. Three years later he published his first book using the presses of Jan Paets Jacobszoon, in Academia Lugdunensi.

The copy presented here is complete with the often lacking errata and colophon leaf, which, according to Pieters was added much later, probably after 1 May 1587, as attested by the mention in the colophon of the New School (“e regione Scholae novae”), the place which Elzevier started building within the Academy after that date. Pieters' suggestion was however contested by Willems, who states that “le feuillet d'errata fait corps avec le feuiller signé Hij; le papier est de même qualité et a les mêmes pontuseaux que le reste du volume” (Willems 22).

Drusius's career in the Dutch Republic was however affected by “the pressure to maintan orthodoxy in the church [...] In Franeker, Johannes Drusius was repeatedly forced to answer the accusations and insinuations of colleagues on the theological faculty [...] concerning his own theological soundness” (S. G. Burnett, Christian Hebraism in the Reformation Era, p. 63), whereas in Rome the works of the Reformed Drusius were condemned by the Congregation of the Index, and included in the Index of Prohibited Books issued in 1596, “a powerful tool in forbidding the spread of heresy in general and of heretical books of Christian Hebraists in particular” (ivi, p. 231).

Adams D-936; Pettegree-Walsby, Netherlandish Books 10350, 10351; Copinger, The Elzevier Press, 1461; Pieters 1; Rahir 14; Willems 22; S. G. Burnett, Christian Hebraism in the Reformation Era (1500–1660). Authors, Books, and the Transmission of Jewish Learning, Leiden 2012, passim; J. L. North, “Johannes van den Driessche, 1550-1616 and the Study of the Old Testament in the New”, B. Koet et al. (eds.), The Scriptures of Israel in Jewish and Christian Tradition, Leiden 2013, pp. 409-423. II. Adams D-935; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 160.

The two rarest Giordano Bruno editions

161. Bruno, Giordano (1548-1600)

Figuratio Aristotelici Physici auditus... Ad illustrem admodum atque reuerendum dominum D. Petrum Dalbenium Abbatem Belleuillae. Paris, Pierre Chevillot, 1586. [bound with:] Idem. Dialogi duo de Fabricii Mordentis Salernitani propè diuina adinuentione ad perfectam cosmimetriae praxim. Pierre Chevillot, 1586.

Two works in one volume, 8° (163x101 mm). I. Collation: ã8, A-E8, F2, 2A-B8. [8], 14, [2] leaves. The copy is incomplete, and contains the preliminary quire ã8 (title-page, dedicatory epistle to Pietro Dalbene, Iordanus Brunus Nolanus de Quindecim imaginibus auditionis physicae figuratiuis, the woodcut on fol. ã6v, and the Divisio Universae Philosophiae), and 2A-2B8 (Iordani Bruni Nolani De Physico auditu Aristotelis liber quintus ad septimum & octauum illius, including 2B7 2B8 blanks). Lacking are quires A-E8, and F2, with the text of Iordani Brun. Nolani De physico auditu, Arist. propositum. De intentione, & ordine octo librorum Physicae auscultationis: item de eiusdem intentionis & ordinis ratione. Roman and italic type. Woodcut printer's device on the title-page. One half-page woodcut on black ground on the verso of fol. ã6. Woodcut headpieces and decorated initials. II. Collation: ã4, A-B8, C4. [4], 20 leaves. Roman and italic type. Woodcut printer's device on the title-page. Three half-page woodcuts on black ground on fols. B2r, B6r, and C4r, illustrating the compass. Woodcut headpieces and decorated initials, on seven lines the one on fol. ã2r. Contemporary vellum over pasteboards. Smooth spine, title inked vertically. A volume in good condition. Leaves of the first edition browned, and waterstained; title-page with old repairs (not affecting the text) and minor loss to the blank lower corner; the outer blank margin of fol. A2 damaged, without any loss. In the second bound edition pale waterstains, slight foxing. Some bibliographical notes on the verso of the front flyleaf, in different hands.

Provenance: Jean Viardot (see Binoche et Giquello, Paris, Livres précieux – Bibliothèque Jean Viardot, 1 June 2016, lot 22).

This exceptional, miscellaneous volume – presented in its contemporary binding – contains two of the scarcest works by the celebrated Italian philosopher, the Figuratio Aristotelici Physici auditus, and the Dialogi duo de Fabricii Mordentis Salernitani. No copy of the Figuratio has come up at auction since the early nineteenth century (see below), while the Dialogi duo has never appeared on the market before this copy.

The Figuratio Aristotelici Physici auditus deals with Aristotle's physics and was likely published by Bruno at the beginning of 1586, during his second stay in Paris (for his first Parisian stay see no. 154). Only four copies of the Figuratio are recorded in the institutional libraries: those preserved in the National Library in Turin, the Bibliothèque nationale in Paris, the Bodleian Library in Oxford, and the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC; the copies in Paris and in Turin are both imperfect.

The copy of the Figuratio presented here contains on fol. ã6v the famous woodcut designed by Bruno himself. This illustration enlists a curious mnemonic iconography based on ten loci to depict – albeit in rough form – the geometrical schema of a human body. The design reveals the influence of the famed homo ad quadratum by Vitruvius, along with other contemporary pictorial models, an iconographic tradition originally re-interpreted by Bruno, transforming the different parts of the body into triangles, squares, and other geometrical shapes.

The second work bound here is even rarer: in fact, the Dialogi duo de Fabricii Mordentis Salernitani prope diuina adinuentione is known by only two copies, one in the National Library in Turin and the other at the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris – in both cases the work is bound, like the present miscellany, with a copy of the Figuratio Aristotelici Physici auditus.

In the Dialogi duo, which appeared in Paris in April 1586, Bruno praises the proportional eight-pointed compass invented by Salerno mathematician Fabrizio Mordente (1532–ca. 1608), who had provided a detailed description of his invention in his Compasso con altri istromenti mathematici, published in Antwerp in 1584. Mordente's instrument is considered to be a forerunner of Galileo Galilei's proportional compass. “Bruno knew Mordente who was in Paris at the time and was immensely struck by the compass. He mentioned it to his patient listener, the librarian of the Abbey of St. Victor [i.e., Guillaume Cotin], describing Mordente as the “god of geometricians”, and adding that, since Mordente did not know Latin, he, Bruno, would publish his invention in Latin for him. This he did with a vengeance, for he wrote four dialogues about Mordente's compass, in which he patronised the inventor for not having seen the full meaning of his divine invention, as he, Bruno, has seen it. We know from Jacopo Corbinelli's letters that Mordente, not unnaturally, “fell into a brutal rage”; that he bought up the edition of the dialogues and destroyed them (missing the two copies, one complete, the other incomplete, which have reached us” (F. A. Yates, Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition, p. 295).

Bruno's work is divided into two parts entitled Mordentius and De Mordenti circino, respectively, and supplemented with two woodcuts executed by Bruno himself. The first woodcut shows the application of the operations of Mordente's compass (fol. B2r) and is known in two variants. In the first state there are three capital letters 'BIH' well visible on the left margin, whereas in the second state these letters were erased by Bruno, and the letter 'C' was added on the lower side. The copy presented here bears – like the copy of the National Library in Turin – the woodcut in its first state, before the correction made by Bruno, who was in effect an 'improvisational' designer and block cutter. A second woodcut illustrating Mordente's instrument is printed on fol. B6r.

The last leaves of the edition contain a short text bearing the title Insomnium, and includes on fol. C4r a third woodcut designed by Bruno, the content of which is particularly enigmatic and may relate to an oneiric vision. It is the most mysterious image of Giordano Bruno's entire Corpus iconographicum.

On the verso of the front flyleaf is an annotation in an anonymous French hand: “je n'ay trouvé les ouvrages contenus dans le volume dans aucun des catalogues qui donnent l'enumeration des oeuvres de Jordanus Brunus, ce qui doit sans doute en augmenter le prix car tous les ouvrages de cet autheur sont fort recherchés, et rares”. The 1815 sale catalogue of the library collected by Justin MacCarthy Reagh lists eight editions by Bruno, including the Figuratio Aristotelici Physici auditus. The MacCarthy Figuratio – now in the Bodleian Library – was sold for the sum of 56 francs, the highest price paid in this sale for an edition by the great Nola philosopher.

I. Salvestrini, Bibliografia, no. 153; Sturlese, Bibliografia, no. 13; M. Gabrieli, Giordano Bruno. Corpus Iconographicum, Milano 2001, pp. 281-294; M. Matteoli, “La Figuratio Aristotelici Physici auditus di Giordano Bruno: luoghi e immagini per una 'nuova' Fisica di Aristotele”, Rinascimento, 55 (2015), pp. 331-362. II. Salvestrini, Bibliografia, no. 155; Sturlese, Bibliografia, no. 14; M. Gabrieli, Giordano Bruno. Corpus Iconographicum, pp. 295-318; F. Camerota, Il compasso di Fabrizio Mordente. Per una storia del compasso di proporzione, Firenze 2000, pp. 83-105; F. A. Yates, Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition, Eadem, Selected Works. II, London-New-York 2001, pp. 294-298; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 161.

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