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Navagero, Andrea (1483-1529)

Orationes duae, carminaque nonnulla Venice, Giovanni Tacuino, 12 March 1530

€ 46.000
The Mendoza Binder for the ambassador Benedetto Curzi
Navagero, Andrea (1483-1529). Orationes duae, carminaque nonnulla. Venice, Giovanni Tacuino, 12 March 1530

Folio (283x198 mm). Collation: [π]2, a-b4, c2, d-f4, g2, h-k4, l6. [2], XLI, [1] leaves. Complete with the last blank leaf. Roman type. Woodcut vignette on the title-page, depicting a river god with the inscription 'NAVCELVS'. Two fine woodcut four-line initials on fols. a1r and d1r. Contemporary Venetian binding executed by the Mendoza Binder (Andrea di Lorenzo). Olive morocco, over pasteboards. Line borders in gilt and blind, undulating panel on sides, and foliate cornerpieces. Central roundel in gilt containing, on the upper cover, a flaming urn tool, and a foliate tool on the lower one. Author's name 'AND. NAVAGERIVS' lettered in upper border and owner's name 'BENEDICTVS CVRITVS' in lower portion on both covers. Holes for four pairs of ties. Spine with three double bands decorated with a gilt line alternating with four single bands decorated with gilt diagonals; compartments tooled in blind between multiple blind lines. Edges gilt and gauffered with a repeating motif between dotted line borders. Covers slightly scuffed, loss at the head and tail of the spine. In a modern green cloth solander box. A very fine copy, a few light marginal stains and tiny wormholes, not affecting text. On the rear pastedown early inked price notice, and a few pencilled bibliographical annotations.

Provenance: the nobleman from Pavia Benedetto Curzi, ambassador to Venice of Francesco II Sforza (name lettered on the covers, 'BENEDICTVS CVRTIVS'); Alessandro Monti (ownership inscription on the title-page 'est Alexandri Montij'); given in 1774 by Marchese Giorgio Porro Carcano (1729-1790) to Conte Giovanbattista Giovio (1748-1814; ownership inscription on the recto of the front flyleaf, 'Comitis Jo. Baptistae Jovii Ex Dono Marchionis Georgii Porri Carcani. 1774'); sale Hoepli 1893 (see Manoscritti, incunaboli ed edizioni rare dei Giunti, Aldi, Gioliti... della prima metà del secolo xvi in gran parte dalle bibliotheche Giovio di Como e Cavriani di Mantova, Milano 1893); sale Christie's Rome, 17 February 1997 (with other books from the Giovio family library, lot 120); Michel Wittock (ex-libris on the front pastedown; The Michel Wittock Collection. Part i: Important Renaissance Bookbindings, Christie's London 2004, lot 85).

A very fine copy, in its original deluxe binding, of the collected orations and poems of Andrea Navagero, librarian of the Biblioteca Marciana, official historian of the Venetian Republic, ambassador to the French court at Blois, and close friend and collaborator with Aldus Manutius, for whom he edited writings by Cicero as well as other Latin classics. The collection of his orations and poems – including Navagero's famous Lusus – was published posthumously by his friends a few months after his sudden death, as the colophon statement 'IMPRESSVM VENETIIS AMICORVM CVRA QVAM POTVIT FIERI DILIGENTER' attests. The volume circulated in only a few copies, and among the original owners of this semi-private publication were other great Renaissance book collectors such as Jean Grolier and Giovanni Battista Grimaldi. Soon after, in April 1530, Navagero's Orationes was re-issued in Paris, and the printer Jean Petit mentions the Venetian volume as a private publication, “impressum Venetiis primum amicorum cura.”

The copy is presented here in a precious binding executed by the skilled crafstman Andrea di Lorenzo, active in Venice between 1518 and 1555 and called by Hobson the 'Mendoza Binder' after his chief client, the Spanish ambassador in Venice, Diego Hurtago de Mendoza. His distinguished clientele included numerous other Renaissance bibliophiles, members of the Venetian elite, wealthy patrons of the arts, and diplomats active in the Serenissima, as in the case of this copy, which bears on its covers the name of Benedetto Curzi from Pavia, ambassador to Venice of Francesco II Sforza, Duke of Milan. “It has been suggested that Benedictus Curtius, the owner of this copy, was the Lyonese book-collector, Benoît Le Court. It is true that his name was Latinised as 'Benedictus Curtius', but he is not known to have visited Italy or to have been acquainted with the Venetian humanists who edited the book; all his bindings are French and this copy does not appear ever to have left Italy” (Hobson-Culot, Italian and French 16th-Century Bookbindings, p. 15).

Adams N-94; STC Italian 462; Hobson, Apollo and Pegasus, no. 82; Cinc siècles d'ornements, no. 9; Hobson, Renaissance Book Collecting, app. 5, no. 136; Hobson-Culot, Italian and French 16th-Century Bookbindings, no. 2 (this copy); Musea Nostra, p. 22; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 86.