Expositio in IIII orationes M. Tullii Ciceronis.

Venice, apud haer. Aldus I Manutius, 1547.


8vo. ff. (x) 96. Italic letter, little Roman. Aldine woodcut device to t-p and verso of last. T-p slightly marked, minimal marginal spotting, small worm trail at gutter of last three ll. added steel-engraved frontispiece with Cicero’s portrait. A very fine, clean, well-margined copy in citron and red Levant marbled sheep (?) c.1800, green silk eps with matching marker, vellum flyleaf to front and rear, triple gilt ruled, small fleurons to corners, spine and joints double gilt ruled with pointillé in six compartments, large fleuron to each, one painted black and gilt lettered, gilt monogram of Antoine-Augustin Renouard at foot, inner edges gilt with stylised palmettes, a.e.g., minor crack at head of upper joint. Modern pencil note to front and rear fep, bookplate of R.J. Hayhurst to fep.

The very fine, unusual binding was made for the famous bibliographer Antoine-Augustin Renouard. In ‘Catalogue’, p. 84, he described it as ‘marbré du Levant’—i.e., ‘a type of cover marble produced by applying brown colouring in broad streaks, followed by washing with aqua regia’ (‘Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books’, 152)— and ‘tabis’, i.e., with deluxe moiré silk eps. The fresh Levant marbling, used on other books owned by him, appears to reflect the style of the Bradel-Derome atelier c.1820s, managed by François-Paul Bradel, Derome’s nephew. There also worked Pierre-Alexis Bradel (‘l’aîné’, fl. early C19), a keen experimenter of paper marbling techniques who influenced C19 French practice (Wolfe, ‘Marbled Paper’, 185; Culot, ‘Le décor néo-classique’, 85). Sixteen volumes, published in 1820-21, bound in outstanding marbled calf and once in the Viscount of Bourbon-Bousset’s library, have been attributed to the same atelier (Librairie Historique Fabrice Teissèdre, Catalogue 2016, n.18). Another binding made for Renouard bears similar gilt inner edges, pink silk eps, matching marker and Renouard monogram; it has been attributed to Antoine Louis François Bradel, François-Paul’s son, c.1830s (Antiquariaat Forum: Justinus, ‘Trogii Pompei externae historiae’, Florence, 1525). Despite the similarities attributable to the atelier, Antoine’s style is more austere. 

An important copy of the second Aldine edition of Quintus Asconius Pedianus, edited by Paulus Manutius. Asconius (9BC-76AD) was a Roman ‘historicus’ and ‘grammaticus’ from Padua and probably a Senator; he is renowned for his works on oratory and appears to have been acquainted with Livy. He wrote commentaries on Cicero’s major orations, many now lost. Albeit in fragments—in Manutius’s words ‘mutilated’ and ‘almost deformed by wounds’—some of Asconius’s texts survived in a ms. codex discovered by Poggio Bracciolini at the monastery of St Gall in 1416. To his commentaries we now owe the knowledge of orations otherwise lost. The present work includes commentaries to ‘obscure passages’ in five Ciceronian orations delivered in 70-55BC, accompanied by Manutius’s ‘scholia’, ‘Contra Verrem’ (the Asconian commentary to which is now considered spurious), prosecution speeches delivered in the corruption case against Gaius Verres, the now lost ‘Pro Cornelio’, a defence against accusations of electoral fraud; ‘Contra Antonium et Catilinam’ (or ‘In toga candida’), attacking the pact between Antonius and Catiline; ‘Pro Scauro’, against accusations of extortion; ‘Contra Pisonem’, denouncing the consul’s actions as governor of Macedonia; and ‘Pro Milone’, a defence against accusation of murder. Asconius wrote these commentaries for his sons’ tutoring, aiming to educate to political life not just to Latin rhetoric tout court. This work was to be an aid to reading of Cicero’s texts, and Manutius’s edition was similarly intended as a companion to the edition of Cicero’s orations published the same year (Brunet I, 523). A very fine, elegantly bound Aldine classic of impeccable provenance.

Renouard 140:3; Ahmanson-Murphy 369; BM STC It., p. 69; Adams A2056; Brunet I, 523 (mentioned). Asconius: Commentaries on Speeches by Cicero, ed. R.G. Lewis (Oxford, 2006); R.J. Wolfe, Marbled Paper (Philadelphia, 1991); P. Culot, Le décor néo-classique des reliures françaises…1790-1820 (Bruxelles, 2005).


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