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Francesco Berlinghieri (1440 - 1500)

Lot 395: PTOLEMAEUS, CLAUDIUS--BERLINGHIERI, FRANCESCO (1440--1500).

Sotheby's

October 10, 2006
London, United Kingdom

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Description

GEOGRAPHIA DI FRANCESCO BERLINGHIERI FIORENTINO IN TERZE RIMA ET LINGUA TOSCANA DISTINCTA CON LE SUE TAVOLE IN VARII SITI ET PROVINCIE SECONDA LA GEOGRAPHIA DISTINCTIONE DELE TAVOLE DI PTOLOMEO. FLORENCE: NICOLAUS LAURENTII, ALEMANUS, [BEFORE SEPTEMBER 1482 -- EARLY SIXTEENTH CENTURY]

PTOLEMAEUS, CLAUDIUS--BERLINGHIERI, FRANCESCO (1440--1500).

GEOGRAPHIA DI FRANCESCO BERLINGHIERI FIORENTINO IN TERZE RIMA ET LINGUA TOSCANA DISTINCTA CON LE SUE TAVOLE IN VARII SITI ET PROVINCIE SECONDA LA GEOGRAPHIA DISTINCTIONE DELE TAVOLE DI PTOLOMEO. FLORENCE: NICOLAUS LAURENTII, ALEMANUS, [BEFORE SEPTEMBER 1482 -- EARLY SIXTEENTH CENTURY]

Royal folio (412 x 281mm.), third issue with sixteenth-century title added in red on recto of the first leaf and colophon and register added on f10 recto, 123 leaves (of 126, without the 3 blank leaves), double and triple column, 51 lines and headline, roman letter, initial-spaces, most with printed guides, heading on a1 printed in red, 29 double-page and 2 single-page engraved maps, early nineteenth-century English straight-grained olive morocco gilt, rule borders with fleurons at corners, spine gilt in compartments, gilt edges, a few small wormholes towards the end, touching maps in a few cases, small repair in blank margin of first leaf, neat repairs to 2 maps (1 & 10), small portion of margin of map 25 torn away, several maps very slightly trimmed at edges, a few light scratches on lower cover, joints slightly rubbed

PROVENANCE

Payne and Foss, 1829, inscription on fly-leaf; Sir John Hayford Thorold, tenth Baronet (1773--1831) of Syston Park, bookplates, sale in these rooms, 12 December 1884, lot 267, where the binding is credited to Lewis (for Thorold see Mark Purcell in ODNB); Rt. Hon. William Henry Smith, First Viscount Hambleden (1825--1891), for whom see R. Davenport-Hines in ODNB, bookplate; Marlborough Rare Books, London, 1959, catalogue 40, item 2, £1,200, purchased by Lord Wardington

LITERATURE

H *2825; GW 3870; BMC vi, 629 (both issues); IGI 1492; Goff B342; Bodleian B-161 (2005); Sander 927; Rhodes 319 (Queen's College, Oxford, a copy bought early in Siena)

NOTE

the third printed atlas, and the first in italian, with berlinghieri's text.

Of particular importance in Berlinghieri's edition of Ptolemy are the so-called "modern maps" of Spain, France, Italy and Palestine, all of which appear for the first time as copper-engravings, just preceding the woodcut maps of the Ulm edition of the same year (see next lot for the second Ulm edition). Berlinghieri's text is a terza rima adaption of Ptolemy's Cosmographia, augmented by contemporary writers. Although not considered to be an edition of Ptolemy, these are the only examples of Ptolemy's maps printed on the original Ptolemaic projection of equidistant parallels and meridians, and the first to provide gazetteers for the individual maps.

The title-page is printed in red, indicating that the copy is like most surviving copies of this work, a third issue.

"The identity of the engraver of the maps remains uncertain but it is believed by some to be Francesco Rosselli, who was one of the earliest known map-sellers and was active in Florence up to his death in 1513. It is also said that these maps were sometimes sold separately, or in sets without text. I've hardly ever come across single examples and only once a set" (Wardington Catalogue).

The text of Ptolemy in Greek is in eight books, and these were translated into Latin between 1406 and 1409 by Jacopo Angeli da Scarperia (Jacobus Angelus), a translation extant in a number of manuscripts and printed at Vicenza in 1475. Berlinghieri's rifacimento, and it is a remake, is in seven books. Book I in 28 chapters, Books II and III, in 21 and 30 chapters, cover Europe, Book IV in 16 chapters deals with Africa, Books V and VI (22 and 11 chapters) with Asia, and Book VII in 10 chapters deals with India and has an epilogue. It is not by any means a simple version of Ptolemy's text (although based on Angelus's translation), but has a huge admixture of other elements, mythological, geographical and cartographical, with elements from Strabo, Pomponius Mela, Pliny, Guido of Ravenna, Flavio Biondo and others, as well as from contemporary portolans and the like.

Francesco Berlinghieri was a Florentine humanist, pupil of Argyropoulos and Landino, and a member of the Academia Platonica of Marsilio Ficino, who has here added a short paragraph in Latin addressed to Fedrigo de Montefeltro (1422--1482), to whom Berlinghieri dedicated the work (f. *2 verso). Berlinghieri had originally intended to dedicate it to the Turkish Sultan Mehmet II (see Firenze e la scoperta dell' America, Florence, 1992, no. 112).

Federigo da Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino, died on 10 November 1482, and printing must therefore have been finished before that date and after 17 April of the same year (the establishment of the league against the Venetians and the Pope, mentioned by Ficino). It is generally dated before September 1482. Federigo was a great collector of manuscripts (famously acquired from Vespasiano da Bisticci), but owned a goodly number of printed books as well, and had obtained a manuscript of Ptolemy in Greek which Palla Strozzi had acquired a century earlier. This Federigo kept in a cedar box (see G. Fiocco, "La biblioteca di Palla Strozzi" in Studi... in onore di Tammaro de Marinis, ii, p. 305).

Of Berlinghieri's work there is in the Vatican Library a finely decorated manuscript, made for presentation to Federigo, but in the event (because of his death) presented to his son Guidobaldo. In the Braidense in Milan is another finely decorated manuscript, this time made for a Medici wedding, that of Lorenzo de Medici. The text of the two manuscripts shows little variation, but the maps are not the same.

The maps number 31 and comprise the normal number of Ptolemaic maps (world map, 10 of Europe, 4 of Africa, 12 of Asia) plus four new ones: Novella Italia, Hispania novella, Gallia novella and Palestina moderna et Terra Sancta. These new maps, also found in the Braidense manuscript, are thought by some to be based on those of Pietro del Massaio of Florence (c.1420--1480) which are found in three manuscripts of Ptolemy by Hugo de Comminellis (the scribe of the famous Urbino Bible, written in Florence 1476--1478, and wonderfully decorated by Attavante and others, now in the Vatican Library, Urb. Lat. 1--2). The Vatican manuscript's maps are considered to be closer to those of the third redaction of Ptolemy made by Nicolaus Germanus, which appear in the Ulm edition of Ptolemy.

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