FROM THE CONTEMPORARY LIBRARY OF THE AUSTRIAN BISHOP OF GURK

Fasti et triumphii Rom[ani].

Venice, Giacomo Strada, 1557.

£4,750

FIRST EDITION. Folio, pp. (18), 228 (i.e. 240), (200). Roman letter, often capitals, much double column and red and black; large allegorical printer’s device on title, a few historiated initials, 262 fine woodcut illustrations of coins, mostly with white-on-black portraits of consuls, generals and emperors; small hole in blank outer margin of title probably due to erasure of old library stamp, light marginal damp stain to first gathering, four browned leaves in the second, clean marginal tear to blank outer upper corner of 2M2. A very fine, well-margined copy in contemporary alum-taw pigskin signed by the German bookbinder M. G., active about 1562 (see Einbanddatenbank, r002340 and r004560), blind-tooled with five elaborate panels, alternating floral decoration with two rolls of neat biblical figures, one with Christ, David, Paul and John the Baptist, the other with Christ, Peter, Paul and John the Baptist surmounted by the four Evangelical symbols; a couple of small stains at front, rear very lightly rubbed; early inked manuscript shelf mark and later label on spine, early title inked on fore-edge in the same hand as the purchase inscriptions ‘Urbanus Ep[iscop]us Gurten[sis] me emit’ on front pastedown and title, dated 1559/ 1561; his large hand-coloured printed armorial bookplate on front pastedown.

Fine copy of the first edition, second and improved issue including privileges printed on χ2 and bound here straight after title, of a landmark in the historiography of ancient Rome. The Augustinian monk Onofrio Panvinio (1529 – 1568) was a giant of the ecclesiastical and antiquarian scholarship of the late Italian Renaissance. An indefatigable writer, he obtained fame with the sequel of Platina’s Life of the Popes and many treatises on Roman history. Amongst them, the Fasti were the most important. This edition, probably supervised by Panvinio himself, shows a highly original and beautiful page layout, resembling the Roman epigraphic design.

Relying on written sources as much as on material evidence drawn from coins and epigraphs, the book describes in a condensed Latin the events that took place from the foundation of Rome to 1555. The narration proceeds according to the succession of Roman kings, consuls, generals, tribunes, high priests, and emperors. It follows the west-east division of the empire from 405 on, recording the Byzantine suzerains on the one hand, the Franck and Germanic Emperors and other European rulers on the other. The book goes on up until the early modern times, thus registering the change in power in the East, with the Muslim sultans taking over from the Byzantine emperors after the fall of Constantinople in 1453.

This copy belonged to Urban Sagstetter (c. 1529 – 1573), Austrian bishop of Gurk from 1556 (as pointed out in his armorial bookplate) and later administrator of the diocese of Vienna. A selective book collector and Hebraist, Sagstetter bought his Fasti at the Diet of Augsburg (‘in comitiis Augustanis’) of 1559. The two detailed purchase notes, evidently inscribed some years after the acquisition by Sagstetter or perhaps his secretary, were first incorrectly dated 1561, when there had been no gathering in Augsburg. Indeed, the same hand corrected the inscription at the foot of the title to read 1559. The confusion may have arisen from the unusually high number of diets held in the mid-sixteenth century in Augsburg and elsewhere in order to tackle (unsuccessfully) the Protestant issue. Still, the incorrect date remains a rather surprising mistake by the owner of Panvinio’s Fasti, a book famous for its accurate chronology.

Not in BM STC It. or Brunet. Adams, P 195 ; Graesse, V, 123; Mortimer, Italian, 355.

L2193

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