De sculptura liber. Ludo Demontiosii De veterum sculpturâ, cælatura, gemmarum scalpturá, & pictura libri duo. Abrahami Gorlaei Antuerpiani Dactyliotheca.

N. pl. [Amsterdam], Np., 1609.


FIRST EDITION thus. Two parts in one. 4to. pp. [viii], 174. + 152 engraved plates without accompanying text. Roman letter, some Italic and Greek. Engraved title page to both parts with fine borders incorporating figures of Virtue and Nobility, fine full page engraved portrait of  Abraham Goorle displaying his collection of rings and coins (with what looks like a books shaped drawer to conceal his coins) floriated woodcut initials, engraved plates of carved gems with figures numbered 1-196, mostly with two figures per plate, and a second suite numbered 1 – 196 with four figures per plate, engraved armorial bookplate of John Plumptre on pastedown, and of E. J Nason on fly with the stamp of Horstman & co, below. Light age yellowing some light browning in places, occasional light marginal spotting, pale mostly marginal water-stain on a few quires of the first work, rare mark or spot. A good, very well margined copy, with good impressions of the plates in contemporary calf rebacked, corners restored, title of works mss on front edge, pastedowns from a early printed leaf of a religious work (dealing with sexual sins, ‘pollutio nocturna’ etc.)

Most interesting collection of works concerning the history of sculpture and painting, the first being the most important treatise by Guarico, followed by De Montjosieu’s Commentarius which is in turn followed by two short works: Aldus Manutius De caelatura et pictura (p. 168-173) and Philostratus’, Iconum initio : de pictura (p. 173-174). Gaurico’s De sculptura was originally published Florence, 1504. Montjosieu’s Commentarius originally published as part of his ‘Gallus Romae hospes’ (Rome, 1585). These works are followed by Goorle’s Dactyliotheca first published at Delft, 1601. Gauricus’ famous work on sculpture, perspective and the aesthetic theory was of particular importance for the diffusion of perspective theory to the north of Florence. Pomponio Gaurico (1482-1530) was Prof. of Philology at the University of Naples, poet and humanist par excellence. His brother Luca was a celebrated mathematician, and made an influential Latin translation of Peckham’s treatise on perspective. “The very first printed book containing a description of perspective was Gaurico’s De sculptura (‘On sculpture’) from 1504… Gaurico dealt with perspective in a minor section, describing a single technique incompletely… Like the distance point method, the construction presented by Gaurico was probably developed in a workshop by experimenting with constructions – rather than by an inspiration of theoretical insight” K. Andersen, ‘The Geometry of an Art: The History of the Mathematical Theory of Perspective from Alberti to Monge.’  “Gauricus was not the first person to connect the natural magic of physiognomy with art. Many medieval manuscripts contained a version of the legend of the encounter between the famous face reader Zopyrus and Socrates, in which is told as an encounter between Zopyrus (or ‘Phileno’) and a painted image of Hippocrates […] However, Gaurico was the first to incorporate an entire exposition of physiognomical doctrine into a printed tract on art, and this, significantly enough, from the pen of a Neoplatonic poet” M. Porter, ‘Windows of the Soul. Physiognomy in European Cultures 1470-1780.’

Gorlaeus published Dactyliotheca, the catalog of engraved gems in his cabinet of curiosities. It was the first extensive repertory of Greco-Roman intaglio gems. Such gems had been avidly collected for the previous century, at first in Italy. In 1609, the cabinet was purchased on behalf of Henry, Prince of Wales, an isolated early example of English interest in engraved gems. Gorlaeus’ Dactyliotheca remained useful for the rest of the century. Here the prefatory text, accompanying the plates of his collection, was never bound in, as witnessed by the title ms on the fore-edge

BM STC Dutch C17th. G 126 (1st edn. only)


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