La institutione di una fanciulla nata nobilmente. L’institution d’une fille de noble maison, traduicte de langue tuscane en francais

Paris, Jean Caveiller pour Jean I Ruelle, 1558.


16mo. in eights. ff. [72]. A-I 8 [last blank]. Italian in Roman letter, French in Italic. Small woodcut ornament on title, floriated woodcut initials, woodcut tail-pieces, “Jo. Bartault” in early hand on title, modern bookplate with “OVH” monogram on pastedown. Very light age yellowing. A fine copy, crisp and clean, in excellent C19th French citron morocco by Trautz-Bauzonnet, covers bordered with a triple gilt rule, spine with gilt ruled raised bands, richly gilt in compartments with fine tools, red and black morocco labels gilt lettered, edges gilt ruled, inner dentelles richly gilt, combed marble endpapers, a.e.g.

Extremely rare second edition of Bruto’s influential, [particularly through its later translation into English], conduct book for young ladies, with a translation into French by Jean Bellère, first printed by Plantin in 1555, [his first book, also extremely rare]. Bruto, a Venetian, had to flee the Inquisition in 1555 and found himself in Antwerp where both this treatise and an oration to Charles V were published. The dedicatee, Marietta Catanea, was the daughter of an Italian merchant in Antwerp.

The work is addressed to Mothers on how to best educate their daughters and stresses the acquisition of traditional female virtues of chastity, piety, and humility. “Bruto, like Vives, reserves his greatest opprobrium for chivalric fiction and plays. The Bible, the teachings of the Church fathers, and narratives of virtuous women are judged to be more appropriate materials for imparting male constructs of female virtue to Women.” Monique Frize. The Bold and the Brave: A History of Women in Science and Engineering” “Giovani Michele Bruto’s ‘institutione di una fanciulla nata nobilmente’ dedicated, despite the title, to Marietta Cattaneo, daughter of a Genoese merchant living in Antwerp, pointedly warned the young woman to pattern her behaviour, not after the sumptuous ways of highborn ladies, but on the value of modest and useful domestic skills. In Protestant and Puritan England, where Bruto’s tractate was promptly translated by Thomas Salter as ‘A Mirrhor mete for all Mothers, Matrons and Maids (1579), this banishment of aristocaratic luxury was upheld as the educational ideal for the middle class.” Aldo D. Scaglione. ‘Knights at Court: Courtliness, Chivalry & Courtesy..’

“In the cultural panorama of the 16th century, multilingual editions are a testimony of an increasing interest in language learning, not only of classical languages, but also, principally, of modern ones. At this time, texts with translation on the opposite page were spreading throughout Europe, including dictionaries, grammar books and works of literature. These publications required specific skills on the part of typographers, so much so that some towns specialized more than others. La institutione di una fanciulla nata nobilmente / L’institution d’une fille de noble maison, of which women were the subjects and probably the recipients, is an example of the didactic bilingual production of the period. This manual on the education of young ladies was composed in Italian by Gian Michel Bruto and translated into French by Jean Bellère; it was first published in Anvers in 1555 by Christophe Plantin, who was just beginning in the business. A linguistic analysis of two texts with translations on the opposite page makes it possible to evaluate the work of the French translator, and to understand how a treatise designed with a specific educational aim could turn into a didactic instrument for language learning.” Irene Finotti. ‘Femme et bilinguisme.’

We have only been able to find two recorded copies of this work; USTC records one at Florence at the Biblioteca del Seminario Arcivescovile Maggiore, and Worldcat locates another at the Bibliothèque Mazarine. ABPC records no copy at auction.

USTC 817083. Brunet I 1307. See Hull ‘Chaste Silent and Obedient” 155 for the English translation. Not in Erdmann.


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