SUPERBLY ILLUSTRATED ITALIAN COSTUMES
Diversarum nationum habitus.
Padova, apud Alciato Alciati and Pietro Bertelli, 1594.
4to. ff. (ii) 93; engraved t-p (second reprint 1594) + 94 plates (2 fold-outs pasted to last fol.). Plates added from second reprint of vol. II (1594) and FIRST EDITION of vol. III (1596). Attractive engraved architectural t-p with winged figures, monkey holding a book, and standing figures holding a bird and a snake; engraved arms of Johann Reinhard, Count of Hanau to recto of first fol.; 93 superb engravings of figures in Italian costumes (one handsomely painted, a few with rarely-found hand-drawn flaps) and everyday life scenes. Light age yellowing and some marginal thumbing to first and last gathering, traces of tape to first two ll. not affecting engravings, very slight foxing or faint water stains to some margins, a couple of minor marginal paper flaws, plates 52 and 53 slightly soiled, the odd ink mark. An excellent, well-margined copy in fine impression in C17 speckled calf, two blind-tooled triple-ruled panels, edges speckled red. Bookplates of The Lamberts and Alfred Rubens to front pastedown, modern autographs to fly, autograph of P. Lambert to t-p margin, minor pencil annotation throughout.
A fascinating, unique, composite copy in fine impression of ‘Diversarum nationum habitus’—one of the earliest illustrated costume books. Pietro Bertelli (1580-1616) was a Paduan editor and typographer best known for his three volumes of world costumes published between 1589 and 1596, engraved by Bertelli and Giacomo Franco. The t-p of this copy was produced for the second reprint of vol. I, originally published in 1589 (with 104 plates) and reprinted in 1592, often with varying plates in different copies. However, this copy does not contain all plates from vol. I or the dedication to the Count of Hanau. It features instead plates from the 1594 reprint of vol. II—originally published in 1591 with 79 plates, and first reprinted in 1592, often with varying illustrations—and of the first 1596 edition of vol. III (with 78 plates). The selection made by the owner—after 1596, when vol. III was first published—suggests that he was principally interested in Italian costumes from different regions and cities including Venice, Vicenza, Genoa, Messina, Naples and Rome, and depictions of everyday scenes. Whilst the upper and middle classes are amply represented—e.g., the Doge, a noblewoman in her (here handsomely hand-painted) wedding dress, a cardinal on horseback and a senator—important professionals like Paduan lawyers and doctors, a wandering Jew speaking in Yiddish, working peasants and penitents with whips also make an appearance. Most notably, three engravings in this copy still feature the very rare hand-drawn flaps revealing, in the most amusing instance, the underdress of a Venetian courtesan. The volume is enlivened by numerous superb illustrations of life in Venice, mostly taken from vol. III, with gondolas in the laguna and soldiers fighting on bridges.
No other such composite copies recorded.
Vol. 1: USTC 814228; BM STC p. 90; Brunet I, 816: ‘Ce titre semble avoir été fait pour une seconde publication de la première partie’. Not in Sander or Mortimer. F. Borroni, ‘Bertelli, Pietro’, Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, 1967, vol. 9.