Art and Architecture Italian Books I

Vignola’s ‘module’

Vignola, Giacomo Barozzi, called (1507-1573)

Regola delli cinque ordini d'architettura di M. Iacomo Barozzio da Vignola. [Rome, Stamperia della Camera Apostolica for the author, ca. 1562].

Folio (407x272 mm). [I]-XXXII leaves, all engraved on recto only, including the etched title-page after Federico Zuccaro with Vignola's portrait set within an architectural frame and the dedicatee's coat-of-arms, the privilege leaf, the dedication to Cardinal Farnese followed by the note to the reader, and twenty-nine architectural plates. Later half vellum. Smooth spine, title in gilt on lettering piece and a small paper label at the bottom bearing the inked letter ‘K'. Covers stained. A very good, wide-margined copy with strong plate impressions. Some marginal staining and foxing.

Provenance: nineteenth-century stamp with the initials ‘PB' on the recto of the front flyleaf.

$ 15,000

Rare first edition of Vignola's major treatise. Thanks to its clarity, fine layout, and subordination of already brief text to a lavish illustrative apparatus, the Regola delli cinque ordini – which, moreover, is written in Italian vernacular – enjoyed great success and its architectural tables were used for training a wide array of architects, apprentices, practicing artists and art lovers. The manual aims to illustrate a modular rule applicable to the five architectural orders, and offers an original combination of the work of Vitrivius and Serlio, Vignola's main sources. The earliest established date for the publication is 12 June 1562, the presentation copy at the Biblioteca Nazionale in Florence being the only one known in this earliest state, with both plates I-II unnumbered. The present copy includes the additional text (“Come è detto il mio intento […]”) below the note to the reader at fol. III as well as the additions to plates IIII-VIII, XI-XIIII, XVII-XVIII, XX, XXIIII-XXV, and XXXI, which are typical of state B. Copies in this second state may contain additional unnumbered plates (from 5 to7), depicting doors as well as the fireplace of Cardinal Farnese. The Regola is a practical manual that simply and effectively codifies the rules of classical architecture and proposes a calculation system to facilitate the constructors' task in designing and building their works in accordance with the five architectural orders (Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, Tuscan, and Roman). Given the principle that the height and diameter of a column are two relative values which can be determined only in relation to one other, Vignola elaborates an algorithm for each architectural order that allows for the calculation of a column's thickness starting from a given height. By this method he obtains a ‘module', corresponding to the radius of the stem of the column, a unit of measurement on the basis of which he proceeds to calculate the dimensions of the other architectural elements, respecting a general rule valid for all five orders which establishes the exact proportions between pedestal, column and trabeation, independent of the different units of measurement then in use. This modular calculation was the expression of a rational architecture based on well-defined geometrical relations. The huge success of the Regola was mainly due to its practical purpose and pedagogical effectiveness, and is testified by its incredible number of reprints until the middle of the seventeenth century. In his introduction, Vignola announces the forthcoming publication of his rules of perspective, which would appear, however, only after his death in 1583.

Cicognara 416; Berlin Catalogue 2578; Fowler, 351; RIBA, pp. 2216-2217; E. Bentivoglio, “L'inganno prospettico e spaziale nel frontespizio della Editio princeps della Regola dei cinque ordini d'architettura di Giacomo Barozzi”, A.M. Affanni and P. Portoghesi (eds). Studi su Jacopo Barozzi da Vignola, Roma 2007, pp. 83-90; M. Walcher Casotti, Vignola. Nel quinto centenario della nascita, Trieste 2007, pp. 151-154-159.

Illustrated with engravings by Vignola and woodcuts by Danti

Vignola, Giacomo Barozzi, called (1507-1573)

Le due regole della prospettiva pratica di M. Iacomo Barozzi da Vignola. Con i comentarij del R.P.M. Egnatio Danti dell'ordine de Predicatori. Matematico dello Studio di Bologna . Rome, Francesco Zannetti, 1583.

Folio (358x242 mm). Collation: +6, A-T4. [12], 145, [7] pages. Complete with the final blank leaf T4. Vignola's text in large roman type, Egnazio Danti's commentary in italic and smaller roman type. Engraved architectural title-page signed by Cherubino Alberti, including coat of arms of the dedicatee Giacomo Buoncompagni, and in the centre a bust all'antica of Vignola. Woodcut printer's device on fol. T3v. Twenty-nine engravings by Vignola, of which eight are full-page (one dated to 1562); 120 woodcut diagrams, including one repetition and one full-page block, by Danti. Headpiece with a city view on fol. N1r. Decorated woodcut initials. Slightly later vellum over boards made with older, re-used parchment. Traces of ties. Spine with four raised bands. A very good, full-margined copy, none of the notes or illustrations have been trimmed. Some marginal foxing, a few leaves slightly browned, large stain on the last blank leaf. A marginal note on fol. A1r explaining the typographic distinction between Vignola's and Danti's texts. Contemporary marginal and interlinear annotations by a single hand, which corrects and integrates the printed text: particularly interesting and extensive are the notes on pp. 119, 121, and 123. Small old stamp on the title-page only partially readable.

$ 9,500

First edition of one of the most celebrated Renaissance treatises on perspective, mainly directed at the workshops of architects and painters: a ‘modern classic' which would serve as a model of the perspective manual for two centuries. The work was edited posthumously by the Dominican mathematician Egnatio Danti (1536-1586), who based his editorial work on a copy of Vignola's manuscript owned by the Florentine Niccolò Gaddi (National Library in Florence, MS. Magl. XVII.18). Further, Danti supplemented the text with his lengthy commentary, which is three times longer than the original text and provides a mathematical demonstration of Vignola's rules and procedures. This large folio volume is rightly famous for its marvelous illustrative apparatus, and above all for the combination of two different illustration techniques, woodcuts and copperplate engravings, which are occasionally printed on the same page. The woodblocks were designed and cut by Danti himself, and some woodcuts are a re-use of those printed in Danti's translation of Euclid's Optics, published in 1573. Vignola's son Giacinto supplied the twenty-nine copperplates to illustrate the text, which his father had already engraved before his death. Only two engravings were not supervised by Vignola: the copperplate illustrating the famous perspective instrument called Prospettografo, executed after a schizzo by Vignola, and that showing the loggia painted by Tommaso Laureti in Bologna. The work was reprinted at least ten times over the following two centuries.

Mortimer Italian 538; Berlin Katalog 4695; Cicognara 810; Fowler 386; Riccardi I, 87; Vagnetti, EIIb8; F. Fiorani, “Danti Edits Vignola: The Formation of a Modern Classic on Perspective”, L. Massey, The Treatise on Perspective: Published and Unpublished, New Haven-London 2003, pp. 127-159.

The Leonardo of our time — Pablo Picasso

Munari, Bruno (1907-1998)

Le macchine. Einaudi, 1942.

4° (283x210 mm). [32] pages. Fifteen full-page coloured plates showing 'useless machines'. Editor's illustrated cardboard, spine covered in black cloth, black-and-white author's portrait on the front pastedown. A very good copy.

Provenance: given by the author to the Italian architect Carlo Paccagnini (see Munari's autograph dedication to on the front pastedown: “Caro Paccagnini, ti regalo l'apparecchio per sostenere la testa del cane stanco, puoi fartene pure uno di ferro (da Crespi) e tenerlo in casa tua. Ciao. Munari” ('Dear Paccagnini, I give you as a present a device to sustain the head of the tired dog, you can also have it made in iron (by Crespi) and keep it at home. Bye. Munari').

First edition of Munari's most important artist book, a brilliant re-use of those 'useless machines' invented by the American cartoonist Rube Goldberg (1883-1970). The definition 'useless machines' indicates machines, made up of various movable parts, which are unable to produce expendable goods and do not increase resources. Munari, inspired by Goldberg's comics, began to draw these humorous machines during his student period to make his friends laugh. Some of these 'useless machines' are: a Machine to tame alarm clocks, a Mechanism to smell artificial flowers, an automatic Gauge of cooking time of boiled eggs, a Device to foresee the aurora, and an Apparatus to make hiccup music.

Bruno Munari is one of the most successful and prolific twentieth century Italian artists and designers. With his fundamental contributions to the visual arts in painting, sculpture, film, and industrial and graphic design (in modernism, futurism, and concrete art), as well as to non-visual arts with his ground-breaking research into games, didactic methods, tactile and kinaesthetic learning, and creativity, Munari became known worldwide as a true design legend. Called by Picasso 'the Leonardo of our time', Munari considered the book the best medium to communicate his visual ideas, showcase his art, and convey his creative spirit: he produced over sixty publications, ranging from design manuals and manifestos to visionary tactile children's books.

Munari's Le macchine appeared in the Einaudis' series “Libri per l'infanzia e la gioventù”, the press run for which is unknown. This copy was given as a gift by the author to the architect and friend Carlo Paccagnini, who was one of the participants to the Movimento per l'Arte Concreta (Concrete Art Movement) or MAC, the artistic movement formed in Milan in 1948 by, among others, Munari and the critic Gillo Dorfles.

G. Maffei, Munari: i libri, Mantova 2007, p. 56; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 284.