FROM ART TO THEORY AND BACK
Trattato dell’arte della pittura, scoltura, et architettura, di Gio. Paolo Lomazzo milanese pittore, diuiso in sette libri. … Con vna tauola de’ nomi de tutti li pitttori, scoltori, architetti, & matematici antichi, & moderni.
Milan, Paolo Gottardo Pontio, 1585.
FIRST EDITION second issue. 4to. (xl), 700 (i.e. 698) (ii). (✝)⁸, (✝✝)¹² A-2V⁸, 2X⁶. Roman letter, titles in Italic. Small woodcut printer’s device on title, divisional half-title with woodcut portrait of Lomazzo in medallion on recto of B1, C19th library label to pastedown with shelf mark, early manuscript ex libris and small later library stamp washed out at foot of title page, monogram ‘GEB’ above, C19th bibliographical notes on fly. A fine, well margined copy, crisp and clean, in contemporary limp vellum, remains of ties.
First edition, second issue with a new title page, of this seminal work of art theory by the Italian painter and writer Lomazzo. “Lomazzo, the Milanese painter (1538-1600), wished to give in his theoretical writings the final and conclusive argument for the nobility of painting. By demonstrating that the painter’s primary and most important activity was intellectual, and that that his manual activity was in all cases simply an execution of ideas mentally conceived, he extended to painters the dignity hitherto enjoyed by poets and rhetoricians. By supplying rules for the seven parts of painting that he had logically deduced from careful definition, he “reduced painting to an art,” and elevated it to an academic subject. These demonstrations were to result in a single and complete treatise that covered theory, technique, and subject matter. …
Lomazzo’s publications were not motivated simply by his vanity as a painter or his ambition as a writer. During the century and a half previous to his career, enormous changes had taken place in the art of painting, which made his arguments for the higher station of painting both necessary and valid. Painters had developed techniques and rules that could be systematized and taught like those of the liberal arts, and they had increased the range and seriousness of the thematic matter of the art in a way to rival literature. The technical accomplishments of the Renaissance painters are still admired and studied in an age that abjures their employment, and the full extent of the intellectual content of Renaissance painting will remain a matter for inquiry, discovery and synthesis through many more years of iconographical studies.” Gerald Ackerman. The Art Bulletin Vol. 49, No. 4 (Dec., 1967).
“It is the summa of late Renaissance theory of art, a book Schlosser called the ‘bible of Mannerism’. … Lomazzo’s art theory reached many readers. … Still in the sixteenth century a translation of the Trattato appeared in Oxford, “englished by Richard Haydock, student of Physick” (1598). A treatise by the English miniature painter Richard Hilliard is so closely related to the Trattato that it has been considered a paraphrase of Lomazzo’s text. Here was finally the longed-for, articulate, complete system of painting – and Lomazzo constructed a system perfectly fitting the intellectual and emotional atmosphere prevailing among the public he addressed.
His claim to providing a system rests, to begin with, on what he believes to be a complete enumeration of the constituents, or “parts” of paintings. The art of producing images consists of seven parts, and to each of them a book of the Trattato is devoted.” Moshe Barasch. ‘Theories of Art: From Plato to Winckelmann.’ The book is also full of first-hand information about Milanese artists, quoting extensively from lost sources. The seventh and final book includes a veritable dictionary of the iconography of the period. A lovely copy of this important first edition.
BM STC C16 It., p. 391. Brunet, III, 1148 ‘Estimés et peu communs’. Comolli, A. Bib. storico-critica dell’architettura civile, I, p. 18-24. Fowler, 186. Cicognara 159-161. Berlin Kat 4612.