139. Ariosto, Ludovico (1474-1533)
Orlando furioso di M. Lodovico Ariosto, tutto ricorretto, et di nuoue figure adornato. Con le Annotationi, gli Auuertimenti, & le Dichiarationi di Ieronimo Ruscelli. La Vita dell’Autore, descritta dal Signor Giouan Battista Pigna... Di nuouo aggiuntoui Li Cinque Canti.... Vincenzo Valgrisi, 1568.
Two parts in one volume, 4° (259 x 182 mm). Collation: *8, A-Z8, a-u8 (fol. X2 signed Y2). , 654,  pages. Italic and Roman type, the cantos printed in two columns. On fols. n3v-n4r the running title of Canto iii is erroneously printed as 'CANTO QVARTO'. Title-page within an elaborate architectural border containing Valgrisi's serpent device and medallion portrait of Ariosto (a reverse copy of the one by Giolito; see no. 106); imprint set in type within a cartouche placed in the lower part of the border. Other Valgrisi devices on the separate title-page of the second part, which contains the Annotationi by Ruscelli, and on the verso of the last leaf. Forty-six full-page woodcuts, one at the beginning of each canto (ca. 164x105 mm, one repeat; the woodcut for Canto II is the same used for Canto I), set within two different borders with figures and grotesques. Five woodcuts illustrating the added Cinque Canti. Two smaller cherub borders for the argumento to each canto. Woodcut historiated initials. A superb contemporary Venetian honey-brown morocco over thin pasteboards. Covers framed within a gilt Mamluk interlaced roll; small floral tool at the inner corners, at the centre a large medallion in Islamic style. Extended yapp edges on three sides, traces of four pairs of green silk ties. Smooth spine, divided into compartments by gilt fillets and narrow interlaced rolls, compartments decorated with semé of trefoil tools. Edges gilt and gauffered in a geometrical pattern (for a similar binding see T. De Marinis, Legatura artistica in Italia, II, no. 2322, pl. 403). In half-morocco folding case. A deluxe and wide-margined copy, with an excellent impression of woodcuts. Paper flaws on fols. G5 and c8, a few fingermarks; minor loss to the outer lower blank corner of fols. N8 and R7. Insignificant waterstain to the lower outer corner of the last quires; a small, pale spot on the outer margin of the last quire.
Provenance: from the exquisite library formed by Robert Hoe (1839-1909; red morocco ex-libris and gilt monogram stamp on the front pastedown; sale Anderson Auction Company, New York, 24 April 1911, The Library of Robert Hoe. Illuminated Manuscripts, Incunabula, Historical Bindings, Early English Literature, Rara Americana... Part I. A to K, lot 99, “limp citron morocco, trefoil ornaments on the back, scroll panel and centre ornaments on the sides, overlap covers tooled on the edges, gauffred gilt edges, silk ties. A Venetian binding of the xvi century”); Wynne Rice Hugh Jeudwine (1920-1984; ex-libris on the front pastedown; sale Bloomsbury, London, 18 September 1984, Catalogue of the Important Collection of Printed Books formed by the Late W. R. Jeudwine, lot 37); Pierre Berès (pencilled notices on both pastedowns).
The handsome and rare Furioso in quarto of 1568, edited for the Venetian printer Vincenzo Valgrisi by the well-known poligrafo Girolamo Ruscelli (1504-1566), a fine copy in an exceptional Venetian binding of Mamluk inspiration.
Valgrisi printed his first Furioso in 1556, and produced more editions of Ariosto's poem than any other save that of Giolito, with seventeen editions up to 1587, as well as an octavo edition which was produced for a cheaper market.
Ruscelli began work on a new Orlando between 1552 and 1553. He based his editorial work on the text printed by Giolito in 1552, which he claimed to have compared with previous editions from the 1530s, as well as some autograph corrections received by Ariosto's brother Galasso. His Furioso “tutto ricorretto” is supplemented with new commentaries and paratexts, among others his Annotationi, et Avvertimenti sopra i luoghi importanti del Furioso. From the edition issued in 1560 the poem is further accompanied by an enlarged version of Ariosto's Vita, composed by the secretary of the Estense court and minister of Alfonso II Giovanni Battista Pigna (1529-1575). Starting with the Furioso of 1565, Valgrisi added the texts of the Cinque Canti, allegorical prose, and argumenti by Luigi Groto from Adria (1541-1585).
The Valgrisi Furioso offers one of the finest examples of multi-narrative book illustration, with the first full-page woodcuts for each canto of Ariosto's masterpiece, all newly designed. Each woodcut, framed within fine borders with figures and grotesques, records one or more scenes from the illustrated canto, rendered with a skilful use of perspective and close attention to the iconographic tradition established by Giolito. In the nineteenth century, Girolamo Baruffaldi ascribed the designs for these woodcuts to the Ferrarese painter Dosso Dossi (1480-1542), while Paul Kristeller later attributed them to his brother Battista Dossi (1517-1548), owing to the latter's stylistic tendencies. Recently, Battista's name has been proposed again, along with that of an artist belonging to the circle of Giovanni Britto. A further innovative feature of the Valgrisi cycle is the introduction of geographic charts as backgrounds for the multiple plots of the poem: an apt visual representation of that geographical space which Ariosto continuously enlarged in the Furioso, ultimately including, in the definitive edition of 1532, important discoveries of the navigators of his time. The marvellous woodblocks continued to be re-used in subsequent editions issued from Valgrisi's printing house up until 1603.
One of the greatest points of interest of this copy lies in its spectacular contemporary morocco binding of Islamic inspiration, evidently originating in Venice where it was commissioned by its unknown but surely distinguished and affluent first owner. The binding offers striking testimony to the Ottoman influence on Venetian craftsmen who were active in the field, an influence that can be traced until the end of the sixteenth century. The debt is evident in the great elaborateness of its decoration and ornamental gilt motifs, akin to contemporary patterning in the decorative arts or embroidery designs: the 'moresque' or Mamluk interlaced scroll, the central medallion, the sumptuosly gauffered gilt edges in geometric patterning, the extended yapp edges. Some ducal Commissioni – i.e., official documents signed by the Doges or by the Procurators and granted to Venetian patricians elected to the highest offices – exhibit similarly gilt-tooled covers. Tammaro De Marinis argues that these Islamic-style bindings – including those bindings with polychrome filigree decorations – could be the result of a collaboration between Persian and Venetian binders: “there is however no archival evidence of the existence of Persian crafstmen in Venice at the time” (A. Hobson, “Islamic Influence on Venetian Renaissance Bookbinding”, p. 114). The exquisite binding presented here further reveals the great appeal of the Furioso and the wide range of its readership throughout the Cinquecento. As a result of this popularity, the poem was offered on the market in various forms, from the less expensive octavo format to the wide-margined and lavishly illustrated editions. The Furioso was the most widely diffused work in Venetian homes, and it could be bound in plain limp vellum or housed within deluxe bindings, as is the case with the present copy: it thus made its way into the hands of every rank of reader, small, middle or great.
In the early 1900s, this copy was owned by the outstanding American bibliophile Robert Hoe, a founder of the Grolier Club, as well as its first president. As stated in the foreword to the sale catalogue of his marvellous collection, “he was a lover of fine bindings, and his library is rich in specimens of the work of all the great binders, ancient and modern”.
Adams A-1676; Mortimer Italian, 29; Agnelli-Ravegnani I, 135; I D. Caracciolo, “Per un'esegesi figurata dell''Orlando Furioso': il caso Valgrisi”, L. Bolzoni - S. Pezzini - G. Rizzarelli (eds.), Tra mille carte vive ancora, 2010, pp. 233-252; I. Andreoli, “L'Orlando furioso 'tutto ricorretto et di nuove figure adornato'. L'edizione Valgrisi (1556) nel contesto della storia editoriale ed illustrativa del poema fra Italia e Francia nel '500”, S. Fabrizio-Costa (ed.), Autour du livre italien ancien en Normandie, Bern 2011, pp. 41-132; A. Hobson, “Islamic Influence on Venetian Renaissance Bookbinding”, E. J. Grube (ed.), Arte veneziana e arte islamica. Atti del primo Simposio internazionale sull'arte veneziana e l'arte islamica, Venezia 1989, pp. 111-123; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 139.