La prima [-seconda & vltima] parte delle vite di Plutarcho di greco in latino: & di latino in volgare tradotte & nouamente con le sue historie ristampate

Venice, per Nicolao di Aristotile detto Zoppino, 1525


4to. Two vols. 1) ff. CCCIII, [i] last blank. 2) ff. CCXV, [xvii]. (blank dd8). Italic letter, titles in Gothic. Text in double column. Title in vol. I within foliated woodcut frame with grotesque heads, title of vol. II in red and black within criblé white on black woodcut border of vines with owls, dragons and mythical creatures below, vol. one with two woodcut initials and 23 double column width woodcut illustrations divided into two parts, vol two with 28 woodcuts in the same style, small woodcut device of St. Nicholas at colophon of both vols., engraved armorial bookplate of Amadei Svajer on pastedowns of both. Light age yellowing, the odd marginal mark or ink spot. Fine copies, crisp and clean, in excellent contemporary Italian, most probably Venetian, black morocco over bevelled wooden boards, covers single gilt and triple blind ruled to a panel design, half circles at sides of outer panel, small ‘feather’ tools gilt to corners of inner panel, central arabesque gilt, ‘P’ gilt to upper cover of first vol, ‘S’ to second (Primo and Secundo?), spines with three gilt and blind ruled raised bands with gilt titles, two clasps intact, remains of six others, all edges blue. Discreet expert restoration to upper cover of vol. 1 and lower cover of vol. 2 and extremities, minor retouching, minimally rubbed or scratched, generally very good.

Rare, elegantly printed and beautifully illustrated edition of this Italian translation of Plutarch Lives in a fine contemporary Italian binding, simply and most elegantly designed in gilt on black morocco, in an excellent state of preservation. This work is particularly rare complete with both parts together but bound separately in a contemporary binding. Volume one, which contains 23 lives, was first published in 1518 by Rusconi, and Zoppino decided to publish a second part to complement it in March 1525. He then reissued the first part himself a few months later in July that year. The first part contains the same translation, by Baptista Alexandro Jaconello De Riet, used in the first edition, (which first appeared in 1482 at Aquila), and comprises 23 lives finely illustrated with woodcuts. The second part contains the translation of 27 lives by Giulio Bordoni also illustrated with woodcuts in the same style. It finishes with the life of Marcus Brutus, which appears after the colophon and is not foliated or mentioned in the table. The lovely binding is remarkable for its restrained and elegant use of single gilt filets on black morocco and is very similar in design and materials to two Venetian bindings found in De Marinis II, no. 1704, plate CCCXXII, and no 2369, plate CCCCIV, both on works of similar date. It is also very similar to a slightly later binding by the Fugger Binder, or Venetian Apple binder, in the BL shelfmark c128g14, and another Venetian work of 1518 in the BL, shelfmark c47f14. Unfortunately we have not been able to find another binding that uses the same rather curious ‘feather’ tool used on the covers.

Plutarch “after Athenian education, generous travels, diplomatic missions, modest literary celebrity, and considerable residence at Rome, .. seems to have retired to his little country home, with his books, notes, lectures, essays, and gentle philosophy, and there, in a leisure not all too much encroached upon by local magistracies and certain religious offices at neighboring Delphi, to have elaborated the sketches of his lectures and essays, which have come down to us under the collective name of Morals, and to have composed the work on which his fame chiefly rests, — the Parallel Lives of Greeks and Romans. …. Greece, after passing under Roman sway, lost sight gradually of her great men of action, and contented herself with the glories of her men of thought. Here surely the dominant Romans could not vie with her. It was to prove that the more remote past of Greece could show its lawgivers, commanders, statesmen, patriots, and orators, as well as the nearer and therefore more impressive past of Rome, that the Parallel Lives were written.” Bernadotte Perrin.

Amadeus Svajer (1727-1791), also known as Amadeo Suajer or Gottlieb Schweyer, was a Venetian merchant of German origin. He was educated, like many of the sons of great German merchants living in Venice, by a private tutor from Germany, Johann Conrad Hofmann (1702-1756) who transmitted to his student a great love for literature and history. He was a renowned bibliophile and collector, most of whose library was acquired by the Biblioteca Marciana in 1794 but duplicates were probably discarded and sold, as many books with his armorial bookplate can be found in European collections. His portrait was made in an extraordinary painting by Antonio Canova.

Sander, 5788-5789. Essling 598, 599. Brunet IV 741 (1518 vol 1 only). Not in BM STC It. C16th., Mortimer Harvard, or Adams.


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