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Valaresso, Zaccaria (1686-1769)

Rutzvanscad il Giovine. Arcisopratragichissima Tragedia. Elaborata ad uso del buon gusto de' Grecheggianti Compositori da Cattuffio Panchianio Bubulco Arcade Giuseppe Bettinelli, 1737.

€ 11.000
in carta Turchina con Rami cinabrio - Libri Stampati da Giuseppe Bettinelli -
Valaresso, Zaccaria (1686-1769). Rutzvanscad il Giovine. Arcisopratragichissima Tragedia. Elaborata ad uso del buon gusto de' Grecheggianti Compositori da Cattuffio Panchianio Bubulco Arcade. Giuseppe Bettinelli, 1737.

8° (204x138 mm). CXXXV, [1] pages. Printed on blue paper. Engraved allegorical frontispiece in orange ink, counted in the foliation. On the title-page engraved vignette in orange ink. Two engraved initials and headpieces printed in orange. Nine full-page satirical copperplates, counted in the foliation and printed in red and orange ink; the engraving on fol. C4r is repeated on fol. F1v. Contemporary vellum, over pasteboards. Smooth spine, with inked title, partly faded, traces of an earlier lettering-piece; minor losses to the foot of spine and lower cover. Green silk bookmark. A beautiful copy, ink stains to the lower inner corner of the last two leaves, not affecting the text.

Provenance: Isidore-Justin-Séverin baron Taylor (1789-1879; on the recto of the front flyleaf cutting taken from his sale catalogue, Catalogue de la bibliothèque dramatique de feu le baron Taylor: vente, Paris, 28, rue des Bons-Enfants, 27 novembre-13 décember 1893, lot 2262).

An extraordinary copy, printed on blue paper, of this 'ultra-super-tragical tragedy' (P. Monnier, Venice in the Eighteenth Century, p. 34). Valaresso's tragedia satirizes the contemporary tragic dramaturgy, and in particular the inflated and tearful Ulisse il giovane (The Young Ulysses) by Domenico Lazzarini, first performed in 1718. The plot takes place in the fictional capital of Nova Zembla, the domain of the protagonist Rutzvanscad, King of China, and governed by two dictators, mockingly named – with obscene wordplay – Tettinculusso and Culicutidonia. The Rutzvanscad il Giovine originally appeared in Bologna in 1722 printed by Ferdinando Pisarri, but the present third edition is the first and only edition to be supplemented with illustrations. Of this tragedy two issues are known: an ordinary issue on white paper and illustrated in black, and a deluxe issue in carta Turchina con Rami cinabrio – as Giuseppe Bettinelli states in the catalogue of his publications included at the end of the volume (fol. I4r). The text is illustrated with ten full-page copperplates (one repeat), exceptionally printed in the present copy in orange and red ink. The depicted scenes poke fun at tragedies based on the Greek model, which are based on horrible events and far removed from contemporary life. The first plate introduces the charlatan 'Astrologa di Piazza', while the last one shows the prompter explaining that the characters 'Son tutti morti' ('are all dead'). These engravings are unsigned, but Eleonor Garvey suggests they may be the work of Gaetano Zompini.

Furthermore the volume has a very appropriate provenance, having once been held in the library of the famous French dramatist and traveller Isidore-Justin-Séverin Taylor, whose influential role in the cultural life of Paris led him to be known as the 'Father of Artists'. In 1825 he was made Royal Commissioner of the Theatre Français, where he opened the door to the Romantic movement, by supporting the work of Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas.

Allacci 686; Gamba 2297; Lancetti, Pseudonimia, 58.; Melzi I, 189 ('faceto critico-satirico componimento'); Lapiccirella, Libri illustrati veneziani del XVIII secolo, no. 244; Lanckoronska, Venezianische Buchgraphik, 72; Morazzoni, Il libro illustrato veneziano del Settecento, p. 221; P. Monnier, Venice in the Eighteenth Century, Boston 1910; E.M. Garvey, “Some Venetian Illustrated Books of the Eighteen Century in the Harvard College Library”, Bulletin du bibliophile, 2 (1999), pp. 293-312; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 230.