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Boccaccio, Giovanni (1313-1375)

Laberinto d'amore... con una Epistola à Messer Pino de rossi confortatoria del medesimo autore Florence, Heirs of Filippo Giunta, 1521

€ 28.000
Two enigmatic, unidentified monograms, on an early sixteenth-century Venetian binding
Boccaccio, Giovanni (1313-1375). Laberinto d'amore... con una Epistola à Messer Pino de rossi confortatoria del medesimo autore. Florence, Heirs of Filippo Giunta, 1521

8° (160x95 mm). Collation: A-I8. 72 leaves. Roman and italic type. Blank spaces for capitals, with printed guide letters. Fine contemporary Venetian red morocco over pasteboards. Covers within blind fillets and a gilt acorn and leaf roll. At the centre of both covers two gilt strapwork-pattern tools, the gilt letters ‘.F.G.T.' on the upper cover and ‘. M.A.G.D.' onthe lower one. Two pairs of holes for ties at the fore-edge. Spine with three small raised bands, with title inked in an early hand. Gilt and gauffered edges. Corners lightly rubbed, minor wear to extremities of spine, joints lightly restored. A fine copy, first leaf lightly soiled and spotted, some marginal foxing, a few spots and minor stains. A few maniculae in a contemporary hand. Small nineteenth-century paper label pasted to front pastedown, with shelfmark ‘N.° 1395A.II.2'. Some pencilled bibliographical notes on pastedowns.

Provenance: Francesco Riccardi de Vernaccia (b. 1794; engraved ex libris on the front pastedown); Gustavo Camillo Galletti (1805-1868; small stamp on recto of first leaf); Baron Horace de Landau (1824-1903; ex libris on frontpastedown, with stamped number ‘47788').

A finely bound copy of this rare Giuntina edition of one of the most influential works by Boccaccio, one ofthe Three Crowns of Italian literature.

The Labirinto d'amore was written in the mid-1350s; it is also known as Corbaccio, an alternative title introduced in the Florentine editio princeps of 1487, although the word ‘corbaccio' never actually occurs in the work. It certainly derives from the Italian ‘corvo', i.e., crow, possibly recalling the satire Ibis by Ovid, one of Boccaccio's favourite sources.

The text was edited by Bernardo Giunta, who addressed his publishing initiative to ‘gli Amatori della Lingua Toscana' – admirers of Tuscan language – emphasizing Boccaccio's critical early role in the tradition of Italian vernacular prose.This copy is housed in a fine contemporary binding in red morocco of the highest quality, suggesting that it was executed for a wealthy patron, the identity of whom remains hidden despite the gilt lettering on itscovers, ‘.F.G.T.', and ‘.M.A.G.D.'.

The binding was in all likelihood produced in a Venetian workshop, owing to the lettering employed in these inscriptions as well as the use of the knot-tool, a fairly common tool design used by various Venetian binders; this tool even came to act as a sort of signature of the most inventive and talented craftsman, the Mendoza Binder, so-named because of his main client, the Spanish ambassador Diego Hurtado de Mendoza, who was active there between ca. 1520 and 1555 (see, for example, The Henry Davis Gift, no. 262, for a binding by the Mendoza Binder dated to ca. 1523, bearing the sameknot-tool and an inscription in a similar pattern).

The fine border framing the covers is formed with small mirror leaves and acorn tools, decorative motifs likewise used in various Venetian binder's workshops in the first decades of the Cinquecento.

Adams B-2182; M. A. Foot, The Henry Davis Gift: A Collection of Book Bindings III, London 1978; L. Nuvoloni, “Commissioni dogali. Venetian Bookbindings in the British Library”, D. Pearson (ed.), ‘For the Love of Binding', Studies in Bookbinding History Presented to Mirjam Foot, London-Newcastle, DE 2000, pp. 81-109.

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