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1454 - 2017

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  • Pasti (Matteo di Andrea de’), 1420-1467/68

    [Rimini], 1450 (but c. 1454)
    Bronze, a very fine early cast (pierced at 12:00, traces of verdigris). 40 mm diameter.

    Obverse Bust to left, a portrait of Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta, signore di Rimini, Fano e Senigallia (1417-1468), in armour, wearing a laurel wreath. Around, SIGISMVNDVS PANDVLFVS . MALATESTA . PAN[ULFI] . F[ILIUS] . (Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta, son of Pandolfo [di Galeotto] Malatesta). Reverse Front view of the Tempio Malatestiano, Rimini, according to Alberti's proposed reconstruction. Around, PRAECL[ARUM] A RIMINI . TEMPLUM . AN[NO] . GRATIAE . V[IVENS or VICTOR or VOTUM] . F[ECIT] . M.CCCC.L.

    This attractive medal was cast to commemorate the remodelling of the exterior shell and façade of the 13th century church of San Francesco in Rimini. Examples were inserted in the foundation, others distributed as favours and publicity, and six were later placed in the tomb of Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta, signore di Rimini, Fano e Senigallia (1417-1468). The medallist Matteo de' Pasti was superintendent of architectural works at the Malatesta court and worked closely with Leon Battista Alberti (1404-1472) in the modification of San Francesco into a combination of religious edifice and mausoleum for the Malatesta family. The view of the façade on the reverse shows a great dome and other aspects of Alberti's project that were never carried out. Many scholars have discussed the medal as an important document of Alberti's unrealised intentions, and some are inclined to believe that it was cast following directions or suggestions by Alberti himself.

  • Master of the E-series Tarocchi, active circa 1465

    [Northern Italy], before 1467
    This print belongs to the first version (conventionally designated E-series) of a group of fifty engravings known as the “Tarocchi Cards of Mantegna” – despite being neither true tarocchi nor related to Mantegna. “Rhetorica” is one of ten images in the third group of the set (marked with the letter C and numbered 21-30) personifying ten “Liberal Arts”: the classical seven known as the trivium (Grammar, Dialectic or Logic, Rhetoric) and quadrivium (Geometry, Arithmetic, Music, Astronomy or Astrology), raised to ten by the addition of Poetry, Philosophy and Theology. Many critics place the “Tarocchi” among the most important of the incunabula of printmaking in Italy. It appears that the fifty matrices were repeatedly struck, without alterations, perhaps over a period of twenty or thirty years, during which various colours of ink were employed: grey, bluish green, greenish grey, greenish brown, with the ink always watery and thin in quality, often with enhancements in gold. The present impression is softly printed in a delicate grey ink. It was acquired by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in November 1897 (Henry Foster Sewall bequest), and deaccessioned in 1918, since when it has been in private collections.
  • Horatius Flaccus, Quintus, 65 BC-8 BC

    Venice, Johannes de Gregoriis, de Forlivio, et Socii, 1483 (17 May)
    The complete works of Horace with the commentary of Cristoforo Landino, a copy owned and annotated by the Augsburg jurist, collector, and scholar Konrad Peutinger (1465–1547). In the early 1720s, when the first of Peutinger’s books and manuscripts entered the market, it was bought by the English bibliophile Edward Harley (1689–1741) for the Harleian Library. The book passed thereafter through the hands of the bookseller Thomas Osborne into the library of Bryan Fairfax (1766-1749), thence to Francis Child (c. 1735–1763), and by descent to Victor Albert George Child Villiers, 7th earl of Jersey (1845–1915), whose Osterley Park Library was sold in 1885. Since then, it has been in the William O’Brien (1832–1899) collection, its Peutinger provenance unrecognised.
  • Ferrarese School (late 15th Century)

    [Ferrara?], c. 1490

    Painting, executed in tempera on linen, 115 × 52 cm (laid down onto canvas).
    The size, shape and medium of this painting indicate that it is a fragment of a banner or telero ritagliato which would have been carried in procession on certain feast days. Originally a triptych, with a representation of the Virgin in the centre (the fabric of her cloak is visible along the left edge of our painting), the banner was cut at an early date and two pieces of almost equal size (115 × 52 cm, 113.5 × 47 cm) are known to survive. Our fragment shows Saint Michael standing over the devil and in the act of weighing souls; the other depicts Saint John the Baptist (Pinacoteca di Ferrara, deposited by Fondazione Carife / Cassa di Risparmio di Ferrara). The two fragments are documented as works of Francesco del Cossa (1435/6-circa 1477) in inventories and catalogues of the Costabili collection (1835-1841). The first to express doubts was Nino Barbantini, in 1933, followed by Roberto Longhi, in 1934, who sustained the Ferrarese origins of the artist while discounting any relation to Cossa. The question of authorship continues to attract a variety of suggestions: the Veronese artist Francesco dai Libri (proposed by Vittorio Sgarbi, in publications of 1982-1983; rejected by Sergio Marinelli, in 1990); and Domenico Panetti (proposed by Federico Zeri; cf. Università di Bologna, Fondazione Zeri, Fototeca, scheda 38391).

  • Celtis (Conrad), 1459-1508

    Nuremberg, Printer for the Sodalitas Celtica, 1502 (5 April)
    First printing of the Amores, four books of vivid erotic poems, the major work of the imperial poet laureate Conrad Celtis. The title woodcut, depicting the author in his study, and four topographical woodcuts are believed to have been devised by Celtis himself, and executed by a single cutter, variously identified as Peter Visscher the elder, Peter Visscher the younger, Jacopo de’ Barbari, or Hans Süss von Kulmbach. Two other woodcuts, the “Allegory of Philosophy” and the dedication woodcut, are universally acknowledged as Dürer’s work.
  • Platina (Bartolomeo Sacchi), 1421-1481

    Venice, Filippo Pincio, 1504 (22 August)
    A new edition of the Vitae pontificum, Platina’s famous chronicle of the papacy through its 1500-year history (previously printed 1479, 1481, 1485), here united with his Contra amores (Against Love Affairs), a “misogynistic critique of women which had significant influence on later writers” (previously printed 1481), five unpublished minor works, and “Parentalia B. Platynae”, a collection by the author’s friend Pietro Demetrio Guazzelli of verse eulogies recited on 18 April 1482, at a memorial banquet in Platina’s former home, also unpublished.
  • Pélerin (Jean, called Viator), c. 1433/1440-1524

    Toul, Pierre Jacobi, 1505 (9 July [i.e. 23 June])

    First edition of the first printed treatise on artists’ perspective, a practical book of instruction with a text in Latin and French illustrated by an astonishing series of full-page woodcuts demonstrating the perspectival representation of landscapes and of architectural exteriors and interiors, both with and without human figures, in a way which seems to belong to two centuries later, if not to our own time. It is the first book printed at Toul (Meurthe-et-Moselle), one of twenty-two known copies, the first copy to be publicly offered for sale since 1935, and apparently one of only two copies remaining in private hands.

    Bound with Vitruvius Pollio, Marcus. [De architectura libri decem] M. Vitruvius per Iocundum solito castigatior factus cum figuris et tabula ut iam legi et intelligi possit. Venice, Joannes Tacuinus, 22 May 1511
    Bound with Dürer, Albrecht. Underweysung der messung, mit dem zirckel und richtscheyt, in Linien ebnen unnd gantzen corporen, durch Albrecht Dürer zu samen getzogen, und zu nutz allen kunstlieb habenden mit zu gehörigen figuren, in truck gebracht, im jar. M.D.XXV. Nuremberg, [Hieronymus Andreae, called Hieronymus Formschneider?], 1525

  • Vitruvius Pollio (Marcus), c. 80/70 BC-c. 20 BC

    Venice, Joannes Tacuinus, 1511 (22 May)

    The didactic treatise On Architecture is the only text on architectural theory and practice to have survived from classical antiquity and the single most important work of architectural history in the Western world, having shaped humanist architecture and the image of the architect from the Renaissance to the present. The present, fourth edition, represents a turning point in Vitruvian studies. It delivers an ingeniously reconstructed and emended text integrated with diagrams and illustrations and complemented by a lexicon of Vitruvius’ technical terminology and by a table of the mathematical symbols that he used. Nearly all the Greek words are reinstated and the Greek text of the epigrams is published for the first time. The title proudly announces the editor’s achievement: “An exceptionally good text of M. Vitruvius prepared by Giocondo with figures and index so that it can now be read and understood”. Indeed, for the first time, the work was presented in a form which enabled Renaissance architects and engineers and their patrons to comprehend what Vitruvius really wrote.

    Bound with Pélerin, Jean, called Viator. De artificiali p[er]spectiva. Toul, Pierre Jacobi, 9 July (i.e. 23 June) 1505
    Bound with Dürer, Albrecht. Underweysung der messung, mit dem zirckel und richtscheyt, in Linien ebnen unnd gantzen corporen, durch Albrecht Dürer zu samen getzogen, und zu nutz allen kunstlieb habenden mit zu gehörigen figuren, in truck gebracht, im jar. M.D.XXV. Nuremberg, [Hieronymus Andreae, called Hieronymus Formschneider?], 1525

  • Carpi (Ugo da), c. 1480-1532

    [Venice], c. 1511-1515

    Rare and impressive multi-block woodcut representing the biblical story of Abraham’s attempted sacrifice of Isaac, executed by Ugo da Carpi in Venice circa 1515, in four sections on four sheets of paper. When the sheet edges are joined (as dictated by the composition), the print measures about 80 × 107 cm (about 31 × 42 inches). At least eight editions of the print were issued, all without date. The earliest was published by Bernardino Benalio, who on 9 February 1515 had applied for a privilege to print three books and an unspecified number of prints, including ‘la hystoria del sacrifitio de abraham’. The first three editions are known by unique impressions (in Berlin, Gotha, and Chatsworth respectively); our impression is from the fourth edition, probably printed c. 1546–1549, shortly after the death of Bernardino Benalio, and a presumed sale of his shop materials. Six complete impressions of the fourth edition are recorded in public collections (Berlin, Boston, Hamburg, London, Paris, Vienna); the last impression seen on the market was sold by C.G. Boerner in 1933 (Auktion 183, lot 1088).

    The print is believed to originate from a design by Titian, who was working in the same period on another large-scale narrative woodcut, ‘The Submersion of Pharaoh’s army in the Red Sea’ (on twelve blocks and over two metres wide).  The ‘Sacrificio del Patriarca Abraham’ was subsequently issued (fifth, sixth and seventh editions) with Titian’s name added on the cartouche, but it is uncertain whether this occurred during the painter’s lifetime (c. 1488/1490–1576).

  • Monogrammist LA (Lucantonio degli Uberti?), active c. 1489-1520

    [Venice], c. 1515-1520
    A four-sheet woodcut print representing the dramatic biblical account of Saul’s conversion on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-18). The same formal structure, figural motifs, and landscape elements are found in the two greatest monumental woodcuts designed by Titian, ‘The Submersion of Pharaoh’s Army in the Red Sea’ and ‘The Sacrifice of Abraham’, both printed about 1515, leading some critics to surmise that the unnamed designer was active in the circle of Titian, if not Titian himself, and conjecture contemporaneous dates of invention or execution. The earliest states of the woodcut bear the monogram ‘LA’ of the printmaker, an artist probably to be identified with Lucantonio degli Uberti, a Florentine, who worked in Venice during the first two decades of the sixteenth century. Lucantonio’s oeuvre includes an edition in nine blocks of Titian’s ‘Triumph of Christ’, a variety of other multi-block woodcut prints and maps, and at least six single-sheet intaglio prints. He was a prolific book illustrator, signing woodcuts with his initials in different variations, working for other publishers as well as selling his own books and prints from a shop situated beside the Ponte San Moise.

    Ten complete impressions and three fragments of this print are known, of which at least four were printed in the seventeenth century. This impression is on a watermarked paper produced at mills in the Trentino and Friuli, c. 1580-1587.
  • Einhard, c. 770-840

    Cologne, Johannes Soter, 1521
    First printing of the earliest memoir of Charlemagne (742–814), written perhaps a decade after his death by a former courtier adopting the literary model of Suetonius’ Vita Augusti. The fine title-page illustration, depicting Charlemagne and Charles V together within a border charged with imperial insignia, and also the printer's device, and woodcut initials, were designed and cut by Anton Woensam von Worms (circa 1493/1500–1541).

    Bound with San Giorgio, Benvenuto da, conte (1450–1527). De origine Guelphorum, et Gibellinorum. Basel, Andreas Cratander, [January 1519]
    Bound with Buonaccorsi, Filippo, called Callimaco Esperiente (1437–1496). Historia de rege Vladislao, seu clade Varnensi. Augsburg, Sigismund Grimm & Marcus Wirsung, [30 May 1519]
    Bound with Basse, Heinrich (fl. 1519) Panegiricos genealogiarum illustrium principum domiorum de Anholt. Leipzig, Wolfgang Stöckel, 1519
  • Vergilius (Polydorus), 1470?-1555

    Basel, Johann Froben, 1521 (July)
    First printing of revised and vastly enlarged editions of Polydore’s collection of adages or proverbs and of his encyclopaedia De Inventoribus rerum, on those who have discovered things, in a well-preserved calf binding executed circa 1550 in Paris for Marcus (Marx) Fugger. The edition is distinguished by a fine woodcut title-border representing the “Triumph of Humanitas” by Urs Graf.
  • Charles V, Emperor, 1500-1558

    [Augsburg], [Melchior Ramminger], [1522]
    A rare newsletter providing a day-to-day account of the visit of Charles V to London in June 1522, to confirm the recent alliance made between him and Henry VIII against Francis I of France.
  • Erasmus (Desiderius), c. 1466-1536

    Basel, Johann Froben, 1522 (August)
    First authorised edition of Erasmus’ early pedagogical work “On the Writing of letters”, begun some thirty years previously, complemented by his collection of aphorisms or “Parallels” gathered out of Plutarch’s Moralia, Seneca, Lucian, Xenophon, Demosthenes, Aristotle, Pliny, and Theophrastus. Numerous later editions were printed of both schoolbooks; however the texts printed here are the basis of modern critical editions.
  • Livius (Titus), 59/64 BC-17 AD

    Mainz, Johann Schöffer, 1523
    First printing of a revised and enlarged German translation of Livy's Ab urbe condita, featuring illustrations from woodblocks cut for editions published by Johann Schöffer at Mainz in 1505, and by Johann Grüninger at Strasbourg in 1507, newly married with a large and highly acclaimed set of blocks attributed to Conrad Faber von Creuznach.
  • Giovio (Paolo), 1483-1552

    Rome, Francesco Minuzio Calvo, 1524 (August)
    First edition of the papal physician Paolo Giovio’s first published work, “Of Roman fish”, conceived at a banquet Clement VII gave for François Louis, cardinal of Bourbon, during which the nomenclature of fish and seafood available in Roman markets had been disputed, and Giovio encouraged to compose his treatise.
  • Dürer (Albrecht), 1471-1528

    Nuremberg, [Hieronymus Andreae, called Hieronymus Formschneider?], 1525

    First edition (first state) of “Instruction in measurement with compass and ruler”, the first of the three theoretical treatises published by Dürer towards the end of his life, one of the earliest mathematical works published in the German vernacular, and among the most beautiful printed books of the German Renaissance.

    Bound with Pélerin, Jean, called Viator. De artificiali p[er]spectiva. Toul, Pierre Jacobi, 9 July (i.e. 23 June) 1505
    Bound with Vitruvius Pollio, Marcus. [De architectura libri decem] M. Vitruvius per Iocundum solito castigatior factus cum figuris et tabula ut iam legi et intelligi possit. Venice, Joannes Tacuinus, 22 May 1511

  • Di Porti (Camillo), active 1526

    Perugia, Girolamo Cartolari, 1526 (28 January)
    This volume of verse by “uno amoroso giouane meser Camillo di Porti gentihomo Vicentino” (folio A1 verso) is representative of a type of popular literature published across Italy in the sixteenth century which seems to have been read almost out of existence. Often printed during the pre-Lenten carnival (February-March), the books celebrate in verse the women of particular towns; many are by authors otherwise unknown; all survive in very few copies. Our book is not cited by the principal authority on early Perugine printing, Giovanni Battista Vermiglioli; no copy has yet come to the attention of the editors of EDIT 16; and we trace no copy in other online and printed library catalogues accessible to us.
  • Petrus Lombardus, c. 1100-1160

    Lyon, Vincent de Portonariis de Tridino de Monte Ferrato, 1527 [colophon: Lyon: Jean Moylin, 10 July 1527], 1527
    A book from the library of the Monastery of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Holy Blood of Christ at Hailes (or Hayles), near Winchcombe, Gloucestershire, a Cistercian house founded in 1246 by Richard, first Earl of Cornwall, which became a major pilgrimage destination after his son Edmond gave to it in 1270 a relic of the blood of Jesus Christ which he had acquired in Germany. Approximately 380 printed books have been assigned with certainty or high probability to English and Welsh monastic houses. Of these, forty-four were in Cistercian monasteries in England (none in Wales). This is one of nine extant books from Hailes; untraced since 1937, it has yet to be seen by a modern scholar. The fine contemporary calf binding is decorated by two panel stamps associated with the London stationer Julian Notary.
  • Charles V, King of Spain and Holy Roman Emperor

    Venice, 1530 (1 July)

    A multi-block woodcut print depicting Charles V’s triumphal entry into Bologna on 5 November 1529, in anticipation of his coronation by Pope Clement VII as Holy Roman Emperor, on his 30th birthday (24 February 1530). The individual woodcuts show a continuous parade of nobility, standard-bearers and heralds, musicians, knights in armour on horseback, arquebusiers, halberdiers, pikemen, and riders drawing artillery, moving from right to left. They were intended to be joined together laterally to form a frieze nearly nine metres long, and when fixed to the wall of a room, or assembled as a scroll, the print offered a panorama where the onlooker could see – or see once again, if he had been present – the whole cortège pass before his eyes. Descriptive captions, cut in separate wood blocks and printed in the upper margins, guided the viewer along; near the end of the frieze, he would read ‘Stampata in uenetia a di p.° Iulio 1530’ (Printed in Venice, 1 July 1530).

    Multi-sheet, ‘mural’ prints are notoriously susceptible to destruction and loss. Of this woodcut, just six other impressions are recorded, preserved in public collections in Florence (Uffizi), Ghent (University Library), London (British Museum; British Library), Paris (Bibliothèque nationale de France), and Vienna (Albertina). The complete complement of sixteen sheets is found in only two sets (Uffizi and British Library), the latter printed many decades later, after the blocks had become severely damaged by woodworm. The other sets, like ours, are deficient to varying extents. Since the complete date (1 July 1530) is not present on any other impression, our print appears to be a unique survivor of the earliest known state.

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