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Lucianus Samosatensis (125 - 182)

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

€ 42.500
The Aldine Lucianus, bound by the Mendoza Binder
Lucianus Samosatensis (125 - 182). Opuscula Erasmo Roterodamo interprete. Venice, 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.