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Auction Description for Christie's: The Arcana Collection: Exceptional Illuminated Manuscripts and Incunabula, Part I
Auction Description:
The Arcana Collection: Exceptional Illuminated Manuscripts and Incunabula, Part I
Viewing Notes:
King Street Jul 3

The Arcana Collection: Exceptional Illuminated Manuscripts and Incunabula, Part I

by Christie's


48 lots | 47 with images

July 7, 2010

8 King Street, St. James's

London, SW1Y 6QT United Kingdom

Phone: +44 (0)207 839 9060

Fax: +44 (0)207 839 1611

Email: info@christies.com

Ars Moriendi , Italian:  Questa operetta tracta dellarte del ben morire cioe in gratia di dio . [Venice:] Johannes Clein and Piero Himel, 1490.

Lot 1: Ars Moriendi , Italian: Questa operetta tracta dellarte del ben morire cioe in gratia di dio . [Venice:] Johannes Clein and Piero Himel, 1490.

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Description: Ars Moriendi, Italian: Questa operetta tracta dellarte del ben morire cioe in gratia di dio. [Venice:] Johannes Clein and Piero Himel, 1490.Chancery 4° (207 x 148mm). Collation: a-bυ8 cυ10 (a1r title, a1v woodcut, a2r preface, text, c10r verse beginning Io sono la vita de christiani fedeli, colophon, c10v blank). 26 leaves. 33 lines. Type: 1:84G. 2- to 3-line initial spaces with guide letters. 12 full-page woodcuts. (Faint corner soiling, very small, light marginal stain to final leaf.) Late 18th-century green morocco-backed boards, marbled endpapers, contained in a modern blue morocco-backed folding box (extremities very lightly rubbed). Provenance: G. Storck, Milan, 1802 (inscription with inventory number repeated three times) -- Baron Northwick (bookplate; by descent, Northwick Park sale, Christie's, 27 October 1965, lot 33, bought by Quaritch for £650) -- Otto Schaefer (acquired from W. Heimann in December 1965, sold at Sotheby's New York, 8 December 1994, lot 17).FIRST ITALIAN ILLUSTRATED EDITION OF THE ARS MORIENDI, THE FIRST APPEARANCE OF THE WOODCUTS, AND THE ONLY BOOK RECORDED FROM THIS SHOP. The high quality frontispiece is most probably Florentine in origin, and has a decorative border with scrolling foliage, vases, cherubim, and bulls' heads, and with the dove of the holy spirit appearing in the upper border, and zoomorphic mofits and a blank shield in the lower. This encloses a confessional scene, where the penitents, both male and female, are confronted with demons carrying banderoles with the words La vergogna nolo dire.The present work's Florentine origins are also revealed by the fact that this Clein-Himel edition has the same format as all six preceding Florentine editions (starting with the San Jacopo di Ripoli edition of 1477), naming the author as Domenico Capranica, and ending with the verse of 29 lines ('Io sono la vita de christiani fedeli'). This makes it distinct from those previous Italian Ars moriendi editions printed in Bologna, Milan and Venice.The other woodcuts are described by Sander as 'vraisemblablement d'origine vénitienne'. Nothing, however, is known of the Venetian partnership of Clein and Himel, which is only recorded in this edition. Himel's name does not appear in any other incunable; Clein remains elusive, although he has been identified with the Johannes Clein, alias Schwab, who in 1498 married the widow and took over the shop of Johann Trechsel in Lyon. Baudrier has suggested that he may also be identified with the Jehan Lalamand, printer, who is mentioned in a Lyon tax record of 1491 as one 'qui nen na rien'.A FINE, FRESH COPY OF THIS VERY RARE WORK. ONE OF ONLY 9 RECORDED COPIES, of which one only is in America, two in England, one in Belgium, and four in Italy (one incomplete). HC 4402; GW 2628; BMC V 500 (IA. 23743); Polain 975; BSB-Ink. A-769; Sander 631; Essling (IV, 143-44) 27lbis; Arnim/Schaefer 18; Goff A-1109.

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BIBLIA GERMANICA. Augsburg: Anton Sorg, 20 June 1477.

Lot 2: BIBLIA GERMANICA. Augsburg: Anton Sorg, 20 June 1477.

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Description: BIBLIA GERMANICA. Augsburg: Anton Sorg, 20 June 1477.Royal 2° (364 x 254mm). Collation: [1-16υ10 17υ8(4+1) 18-26υ10 27υ8; 28-40υ10 41υ10(5+1) 42υ12 43υ10(2+1); 44-50υ10 51υ10(+-10) 52-53υ10 54υ10(8+1)] (1/1r blank, 1/1v table of contents, 1/2r-27/8r Genesis-Psalms, 27/8v blank; 28/1r-43/10r Proverbs-2 Maccabees, 43/10v blank; 44/1r-54/10r New Testament, 54/10v blank). 542 leaves. 55 lines and headline, double column. Type: 1:103G. 77 column-width woodcuts, from 40 blocks (37 repeats), woodcut Maiblumen initial opening each book, outline and solid lombard chapter initials. Contemporary rubrication: outline initials filled with red, woodcuts and Maiblumen initials coloured with red, paragraph marks and capital strokes in red. Two lines of text have been added by a contemporary hand, probably in the printing shop, at the end of 5/10v (as in the BSB and Scheide copies). Bearer type on 1/1v, pinholes visible in some leaves. (Small hole in first leaf touching a few letters, very occasional light spot, marginal repair in 1/4, stain at gutter of 54/1r.) 17th-century German blindstamped pigskin over reverse beveled wooden boards, sides with concentric panels, central lozenge, remains of two fore-edge clasps, blue edges; modern brown buckram folding box, leather spine label. Provenance: Counts Stolberg of Wernigerode (19th-century armorial stamp on first text leaf) -- Countess Estelle Doheny (bookplate; sale Christies New York, 22 October 1987, lot 44).FIFTH OR SIXTH GERMAN BIBLE, THE THIRD OR FOURTH TO BE ILLUSTRATED, PRINTED WITH THE FIRST SERIES OF BIBLE WOODCUT ILLUSTRATIONS IN GERMANY, as distinct from that of Günther Zainer (Augsburg: c. 1474 and later editions), which are technically historiated initials, each block combining an initial with a Biblical scene. For his near-simultaneous edition, also at Augsburg, Pflanzman commissioned 23 woodcuts. Sorg took over Pflanzman's blocks, reprinted 17 and added a further 23 to the series. Precedence between Sorg's edition, dated 20 June 1477, and Zainer's second illustrated Bible, dated simply 1477, has not been established.A FINE, FRESH COPY, FROM THE GREAT LIBRARY OF THE COUNTS STOLBERG AT WERNIGERODE, RENOWNED FOR ITS BIBLE COLLECTION. Founded already in the 16th-century, the Stolberg library was built largely by Count Christian Ernst. He acceded to the title in 1710, and over the course of 11 years the number of Bibles in the library grew from 905 to 11,714; printed catalogues were issued to assist dealers in securing other editions. Under Christian Ernst's patronage, 8 editions of the Bible were printed at Wernigerode, and he personally supervised publication of a hymn book there (H. Weber, "Some Notes on the Stolberg Library", Harvard Alumni Bulletin, 27 April 1934, pp. 798-808.)The edition is very rare on the market; no other copy has sold in Anglo-American auctions for over a century, and only an imperfect copy has sold in German auctions in over half a century.The book was printed one page at a time, not in formes; faint off-setting in quire 32 shows the sheets were printed outer sides first. The collation varies from GW but agrees with BMC and Bod-Inc. The inserted leaves are all printed on full chancery sheets with a posthorn watermark and were presumably worked off at the end of the press-run to make good textual deficiencies. HC *3135; GW 4301; BMC II, 334 (IC.5808); CIBN B-442; IGI 1711; BSB-Ink. B-488; Bod-Inc. B-329; Schreiber 3459; Eichenberger and Wendland, Deutsche Bibeln vor Luther, pp.59-64; Goff B-630.

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BOCCACCIO, Giovanni (c.1313-1375).  De claris mulieribus . Ulm: Johann Zainer, [1473].

Lot 3: BOCCACCIO, Giovanni (c.1313-1375). De claris mulieribus . Ulm: Johann Zainer, [1473].

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Description: BOCCACCIO, Giovanni (c.1313-1375). De claris mulieribus. Ulm: Johann Zainer, [1473]. [Bound second with:]HONORIUS Augustodunensis (early 12th century). De imagine mundi. [Nuremberg: Anton Koberger, ?1472, not after 5 February 1473].[And:]CICERO, Marcus Tullius (106-43 B.C..) De officiis, in Latin, manuscript on paper. Bologna: April 1464. A WITNESS TO HUMANISM NORTH OF THE ALPS: A SAMMELBAND CONTAINING TWO HUMANISTIC TEXTS PRINTED IN GERMANY AND AN ITALIAN MANUSCRIPT OF CICERO, WRITTEN IN A HUMANISTIC HAND.3 works in one volume, chancery 2° (305 x 210mm). Contemporary vellum-backed thick wooden boards, bevelled at top and bottom edge, brass catches, early manuscript titles on upper cover and "20" upright on fore-edges, "balbanuas" on rear board, front flyleaf from Würzburg accounts (see below), vellum spine liners from a ?12-century German manuscript (straps renewed, vellum a little worn and chipped); early 20th-century red morocco folding box, spine lettered in gilt. Provenance: [Würzburg (see discussion of front fly-leaf below)] -- a few contemporary annotations in the Honorius -- A Thum (inscription on first leaf) -- Alexander Mayr (Hunc librum emit Alexander Mayr magister hospitalis Anno 53, inscription on first leaf) -- The Rt. Hon. W. E. Gladstone, Hawarden Castle (booklabel; sale Christie's, 8 December 1982, lot 6, to:) -- George Abrams (booklabel; sale Sotheby's, 16 November 1989, lot 28). BOCCACCIO: Collation: [1-11υ10 12υ8] (1/1 table, 1/3r letter by Boccaccio addressed to Andreola Acciaiuolus, 1/4r author's dedication to Acciaiuolus, 1/5v text, 12/8r colophon, 12/8v blank). 118 leaves. 32-34 lines, headline on rectos. Type: 1:117G. 81 woodcut illustrations from 79 blocks by the Boccaccio Master (cf. Weil p.24), 2-sided woodcut historiated border incorporating initial 'S' opening first chapter, woodcut outline initials. Bearer type on 9/8r, 11/1r and 11/9r. (First and last leaves lightly soiled.)FIRST EDITION, ONE OF THE EARLIEST BOOKS PRINTED AT ULM, AND THE FIRST ILLUSTRATED BOOK PRINTED THERE. It is also the first collection of biographies devoted exclusively to women. Boccaccio was inspired to write it as a companion to Lives of Famous Men by his elder contemporary and mentor, Petrarch. He includes women from mythology, legend and history, intentionally rescuing some nearly lost to obscurity, and choosing famous, not necessarily virtuous, women. He excuses his preference for pagan to religious women by noting that saints' lives are recorded elsewhere. It was a popular work, known in over 100 manuscripts, was widely translated by the end of the 15th century, and was a source for Chaucer, Christine de Pisan, Edmund Spenser and others.Zainer's Boccaccio is an important witness to Renaissance humanism north of the Alps, and it is noteworthy that the first edition should appear in Germany. The German humanist physician Heinrich Steinhöwel was closely involved with Zainer's press and his translation into German of On Famous Women appeared soon afterwards.The woodcuts, by the eponymous Boccaccio Master, are the earliest series of Ulm woodcut illustrations, and appear here in their fullest complement. They probably derive from Franco-Burgundian pictorial sources. The blocks were subsequently used for the German edition, with four omissions and one addition. Amelung dates the German edition to 1474, since only the Latin edition appears in Zainer's advertisement printed early that year, while CIBN gives the German edition slight precedence over the Latin, judging by the condition of the woodblocks. The illustration of the apocryphal female Pope Joan, the earliest of its subject and often defaced, is here untouched.The present is one of only three copies known of the first state, showing the uncorrected setting of sheets 11/1.10 and 12/1v.8r. The colophon in the latter forme was expanded in its second state to contain a statement about textual correctness and was dated 1473. The uncorrected state may in fact indicate a first issue of the edition. H *3329; BMC II, 521 (IB. 9110-11); GW 4483; CIBN B-513; BSB-Ink. B-559; Bod-Inc. B-376; Amelung, Frühdruck, 9; Schreiber 3510; Goff B-716.HONORIUS: Collation: [1-4υ10 5υ8] (1/1r letters between Honorius and Christianus, prologue, 1/1v text, 5/6v-8 blank). 48 leaves. 30 lines. Type: 2:115G. 6- to 8-line opening initials in interlocking red and blue, 2- to 5-line initials alternating in red and blue, red paragraph marks and capital strokes. (Faint marginal dampstaining.) FIRST EDITION of this work on cosmography, geography, astronomy, meteorology and chronology. Parts of it were silently incorporated by Pierre d'Ailly into his own Imago mundi, which was particularly influential for having been closely consulted by Christopher Columbus in preparation for his voyages to the new world. This edition is one of the five earliest books printed by the great and prolific Nuremberg printer Anton Koberger. It was long considered his first book (BMC II, x), but a recent investigation into this early group has shown by paper evidence that it was the fifth (J. Ing Freeman, "Anton Koberger's First Books", Princeton University Library Chronicle, 1994, pp. 308-322). There has been much speculation over the meaning of "Augustodunensis". Rather than being "of Autun", it probably refers to the imperial city of Regensburg where Honorius was a canon (cf. V. Flint, Honorius Augustodunensis of Regensburg, 1995). H *8800; BMC II, 411 (IB.7143); GW 12942; CIBN H-188; Sack (Freiburg) 1865; BSB-Ink. H-331; Bod-Inc. H-147; Goff H-323.ONLY TWO OTHER COPIES OF THESE EDITIONS HAVE SOLD AT AUCTION IN THE PAST 30 YEARS. AN EXCEPTIONALLY FRESH COPY IN ORIGINAL CONDITION. Both printed texts preserve strong impressions of the type and a virtually full sheet size. The Boccaccio has a further wealth of evidence of its printing. The impression shows that it was printed in 2-page formes, and the backing felt appears to have been laid over the entire forme. The sheets were apparently affixed to the press by pinholes at the centre of each sheet, since they are not visible, even in sheets with their full deckle edge.CICERO: Collation: [1-8υ10] (last 3 leaves blank), 80 leaves, paper, COMPLETE, catchwords survive throughout, leaf signatures usually survive, 31 lines written in humanistic script in pale brown ink between single vertical bounding lines and pairs of horizontals ruled to guide the tops and bottoms of minims, justification: 185 x 105mm, capitals stroked in red, initials in red ink, sometimes with calligraphic flourishes, typically 2 or 3 lines high but sometimes more, up to 8 lines high (some contemporary/early interlinear and side-notes, manicula, subpunctuations, and underlinings, some water-staining and other wear, but generally in very good condition)Written at Bologna in April 1464, as recorded in the scribal colophon: "complevi in die sancti antanii[sic?] de aquino hora xix mensis a prilis bononie 1464". CONTENT: Beginning 'Quamquam te marce fili ' and ending 'si talibus monimentis [sic] preceptisque letabere. Marce tulii ciceronis offitiorum ad ciceronem filium liber tertius et ultimus explicit feliciter' followed without break by the colophon; the three books beginning at ff.1, 31, and 51.The front flyleaf was taken from a register of payments made by the Bishop of Würzburg, probably in the 1450s, several of which concern the book arts. There are two payments to Martin von Erfurt for writing documents; he is known as the scribe of a Breviary of Würzburg, 1454, now at the Vatican (Vatican MS. Palatina 513, see Bénédictins du Bouveret, Colophons de manuscrits occidentaux, 1965-79, no. 13200). A Johannes Knauff, vicar, is paid for writing a Book of Hours for the bishop; Gabriel Hungersperger is paid for writing 2 quires; and two other payments seem to relate to binding and colouring. The Bishop for whom this work was carried out was either Gottfried I von Limpurg (Bishop 1443-1455) or Johann III von Grumbach (Bishop 1455-1466).

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BOCCACCIO, Giovanni (?1313-75).  Decamerone . - Hieronymus Squarzaficus (fl. 1475-after 1503).  Vita di Boccaccio . Venice: Johannes and Gregorius de Gregoriis, de Forlivio, 20 June 1492.

Lot 4: BOCCACCIO, Giovanni (?1313-75). Decamerone . - Hieronymus Squarzaficus (fl. 1475-after 1503). Vita di Boccaccio . Venice: Johannes and Gregorius de Gregoriis, de Forlivio, 20 June 1492.

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Description: BOCCACCIO, Giovanni (?1313-75). Decamerone. - Hieronymus Squarzaficus (fl. 1475-after 1503). Vita di Boccaccio. Venice: Johannes and Gregorius de Gregoriis, de Forlivio, 20 June 1492.[Bound with:]MASUCCIO Salernitano [Tommaso GUARDATI (c.1410-1475)]. Novellino. Venice: Johannes and Gregorius de Gregoriis, de Forlivio, 21 July 1492.BOCCACCIO: Collation: pυ6 aυ8 b-xυ6 zυ4 (p1r title, verso blank, p2r table of contents, p5 Life of Boccaccio, p6 blank, a1r text within woodcut architectural frame, z3r register, colophon, z3v printer's device, z4 blank). 143 (of 144, without blank p6) leaves. Type: 23:82Rυb. 59 lines and headline, double column, 3- to 6-line initial spaces with printed guide-letter. Woodcut architectural border opening text, 112 woodcuts, including repeats, comprising 100 column-width cuts, 10 large woodcuts from 2 blocks, one opening each "day", and one woodcut portrait of the author, repeated, by the Popular Designer, woodcut printer's device; later engraving of Boccaccio as poet laureate (120 x 74mm) mounted on title. A few blocks in the Boccaccio are signed "b", probably by the workshop and not the artist. Initial opening text in blue on a liquid gold and silver ground, armorial shield in lower border in silver, blue, pink and green. (First leaf mounted on blank verso, neatly repaired marginal tear in 2 leaves, one just touching text, b6 on guard, some scattered stains, light marginal dampstain in quires k-l.)MASUCCIO: Collation: pυ2 A-Mυ6 (p1r title, verso blank, p2r table of contents, A1r text within woodcut architectural frame, M6r register, colophon, and printer's mark, verso blank). 74 leaves. Type: 23:82Rυb. 55-59 lines and headline, double column, 3- to 4-line initial spaces with printed guide-letter. 55 woodcuts from 50 blocks (11 from the 1492 Boccaccio above, and 39 new blocks). (Last leaf blank corner cut and mounted on verso, some light staining, heavier in last 3 quires.)Two works in one volume, super-chancery 2° (314 x 202mm). 18th-century vellum over thin pasteboard, titles written on spine, green edges, the two woodcut border pages with fore-edge folded to preserve woodcut (some stains, yapp edges worn). Provenance: arms (a lion rampant sinister) on first title -- Otto Schaefer (sale, Sotheby's New York, 8 December 1994, lot 32).FIRST ITALIAN ILLUSTRATED EDITION OF THE DECAMERON, AND THE FIRST ILLUSTRATED EDITION OF THE NOVELLINO. They are among the finest Venetian woodcut books of the 15th century. Both works are illustrated by the "Popular Designer", whose designs are characterised by his "naive and occasionally naughty wit" (Hind). The cuts are noteworthy as being specific to the story they illustrate. Even when a Decameron cut is re-used in the Novellino, it is altered slightly for its new context. Depicting contemporary costume and manners, they allow a glimpse into life in Italy at the end of the 15th century. The Decameron cuts continued to appear in all subsequent editions until 1520 (with one exception). The two works are extremely rare. No other copy has been offered at auction in over 70 years, and ISTC lists only about a dozen institutional copies, several imperfect. Owing in part to their rarity and despite Hind's earlier recognition of new cuts, it became accepted that the Novellino was illustrated entirely with cuts already employed in the Decameron. Bernard Breslauer was the first to establish that only 11 cuts originated in the earlier work and that the majority - 39 blocks - are new to the Novellino. He further distinguished 3 states resulting from damaged blocks necessitating duplication. The present copy of the Novellino is in the first state, before any duplication became necessary. It therefore represents the full series of the original Novellino cuts.The two works are closely related in subject matter and format and were clearly intended as companion volumes; however, the present copy is the only instance where they are united in a single volume. The Decameron opens in contemporary Florence when a group of young people decides to remove itself to the countryside in order to escape the plague which has beset the city. They entertain one another during their self-enforced exile by telling stories, competing to show off their wit and inventiveness. The stories are intended as delightful distractions, and Petrarch praised the work as such. The Novellino similarly tells stories to entertain, and its author was known as the Neapolitan Boccaccio. Each of his tales is dedicated to a different person, including Ferdinand I of Aragon, Eleonora d'Aragona, Federico da Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino, and the prologue is addressed to Ippolita Maria Sforza.I: HC 3277; GW 4449; CIBN B-527; Bod-Inc. B-364; Essling 640; Sander 1060; Arnim/Schaefer 62 (another, imperfect, copy); Goff B-728. NOT IN THE BRITISH LIBRARY OR BAVARIAN STATE LIBRARY, and of the 7 copies listed in GW, 3 are imperfect. II: HCR 10888; BMC V, 342 (IB.21034); Bod-Inc. M-142; Essling 668; Sander 4426; Goff M-346.

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[COLONNA, Francesco (1433-1527)].  Hypnerotomachia Poliphili , in Italian. Venice: Aldus Manutius for Leonardus Crassus, December 1499.

Lot 5: [COLONNA, Francesco (1433-1527)]. Hypnerotomachia Poliphili , in Italian. Venice: Aldus Manutius for Leonardus Crassus, December 1499.

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Description: [COLONNA, Francesco (1433-1527)]. Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, in Italian. Venice: Aldus Manutius for Leonardus Crassus, December 1499.Super-chancery 2° (316 x 207mm). Collation: pυ4 a-yυ8 zυ10 A-Eυ8 Fυ4 (p1 title, p1v dedicatory letter by Crasso to Guido, Duke of Urbino, p2r poem to Crasso by Giovanni Battista Scita, p3 synopses in verse and prose, p4v verses by Andrea Maro of Brescia, a1r second title, a2r book I, A1r book II, F3r colophon, F3v epitaphs, F4r errata, F4v blank). 234 leaves. 39 lines. Type: 115R (evolved from 2:114), 7:114Greek, 10:82R, 9:84Greek, square Hebrew, letters AM stamped in by hand as correction in line 5 of second title (a1r) as GW Anm. 2. 172 woodcuts attributed to the Paduan miniaturist Benedetto Bordon, of which 11 are full-page (the Priapus cut untouched), 39 woodcut initials form an acrostic spelling the name Franciscus Columna.Binding: Parisian binding of c. 1552-55 by Gommar Estienne for Jean Grolier: brown calf, sides with interlace painted black, a solid and a hatched leaf tool (Nixon, C. de P. 59, 69), title tooled at centre of upper cover, Grolier's ownership formula below, his motto at centre of lower cover, flat spine with 18th-century gilt-tooled backstrip, gilt edges, vellum pastedowns, two pairs of paper flyleaves watermarked with a pot [similar to, but not identical with, Briquet 12632, Troyes 1542], probably late 18th-century, at each end, one at the front bound as an outer sheet of the first quire (sides and backstrip preserved over modern boards, a little rubbed, lightly restored); modern red morocco folding box.Provenance: Jean Grolier (1479-1565; binding) -- Alexandre Albert François, prince de Bournonville (sale Paris, 13 December 1706, lot 312) -- Mr. Fauvres, Paris, 1748 (inscription on front pastedown: "Ce livre appartient a Mr Fauvres Maistre des Comptes, resident rue St. Antoine pres la rue royalle 1748") -- lines in Italian in an early hand -- George John, 2nd Earl Spencer (1758-1836; leather book label; sold by his heirs en bloc to form:) -- John Rylands Library, Manchester (1894 bookplate, deaccession label; sale Sotheby's, 14 April 1988, lot 42). FIRST EDITION of the most celebrated illustrated printed book of the Italian Renaissance, bound for the most celebrated Renaissance bibliophile, Jean Grolier, and later owned by the greatest English bibliophile of his era, Earl Spencer. Although bound half a century after publication by Aldus Manutius at Venice, this is undoubtedly the work's first binding, as shown by the virtually full sheet size and fresh, pristine condition of its leaves. It is closely associated with the press: not only had Grolier himself been agent for the Aldine Press at Paris, but by the 1550s so too was Gommar Estienne, one of Grolier's binders. Grolier had a particular penchant for the work and owned no fewer than five copies, one other also bound by Estienne (now Royal Library, Stockholm. Cf. Hobson, Humanists and Bookbinders, 207-09, 271, correcting Nixon's assignment to Claude de Picques; and Renaissance Book Collecting, App. I). The binding was exhibited at the British Museum in 1965 (Nixon catalogue, no. 94, pl. 88), and reproduced by G.D. Hobson in Maioli, Canevari and Others, 1926, p. 43, pl. 50. The ownership of this volume is documented for much of its past. On Grolier's death in 1565 the major part, but not all, of his library passed to Méry de Vic. A distinctive feature of the Vic ownership is his, or his descendants', programme of re-tooling the spines of Grolier bindings reflecting the change from displaying books with their covers facing out to shelving them with the spine outwards. The re-tooling of the spine of the Grolier-Spencer copy is apparently later and shows no evidence to associate it with the Vic collection. Early and mid-18th-century ownership inscriptions account for the book's whereabouts for much of that century, and by the early 19th-century it entered the library of Earl Spencer, amongst whose collection it remained until sold in 1988. Dibdin wrote of this volume in his catalogue of the Spencer library: [it is] the most perfect specimen of the press of Aldus. ... Everything in it conspires to charm the tasteful collector [and to] delight and gratify the judgment of the Virtuoso. ... The present copy...is perhaps unrivalled for its size and beauty" (Dibdin, Bibliotheca Spenceriana, IV, p. 145, no. 833). Dibdin later compared it to the Mathieu copy (now at the British Library) and declared "the triumphant superiority of the Grolier copy" (Bibliographical Decameron, II, p.475). The Hypnerotomachia Poliphili epitomizes the Aldine mastery of type, illustration, design and execution. The identity of the artist responsible for the renowned woodcuts has long been debated, but the Paduan miniaturist Benedetto Bordon, active primarily in Venice, is now widely considered their author. The work tells the tale of Polifilo in search of his lost love, Polia. His journey takes him through a fantastic dream-world of pyramids and obelisks, classical gardens, ruined temples and bacchanalian festivals, before finding her and gaining ultimate enlightenment at the temple of Venus. Interpretations of the intricate text are many; a recent investigation into explicative near-contemporary annotations written into a copy at Modena shows that it served as a sort of humanist encyclopedia (D. Stichel, 'Reading the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili in the Cinquecento, marginal notes in a copy at Modena,' Aldus Manutius and Renaissance Culture, Essays in memory of Franklin D. Murphy, Florence: 1998). HC *5501; GW 7223; BMC V, 561 (IB. 24499-24502); CIBN C-523; IGI 3062; BSB-Ink. C-471; Bod-Inc. C-391; Renouard Alde, 21.5; Sander 2056; Essling 1198; Nixon 94; Austin 141; Goff C-767.

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