Funerali antichi di diuersi popoli, et nationi

Venice, Simone Galignani 1574.,


FIRST EDITION Folio. (in fours.) pp. (viii) 109 (iii). a4, A-04. Italic letter, index in Roman. ‘Title engraved within an architectural border with figures (Johnson, Engraved title-pages, p.10). Twenty-three numbered engravings, approximately 92×155 mm, by Girolamo Porro… Grotesque ornaments, tail pieces with four satyrs. Large initial A with the slaying of Argos. Grotesque and foliated initials.’ Mortimer.  Contemporary ms. price? ‘Six’ at inner margin of title. Very light age yellowing, worm trail to blank lower outer corner, another on quires G-H in blank outer margin, just touching the very edge of one plate on H2, minor single worm holes in margins, small stain in upper margin of two leaves. A very good, clean, thick paper copy, with the plates in superb impression, in fine contemporary limp, polished vellum, covers bordered with a double gilt rule, large gilt, strap-work block stamp at centres, spine covered in calf in the eighteenth century, green morocco label, gilt lettered (a little worn), all edges gilt, minor stains to upper cover.

A handsome copy of this early issue of the first edition of Porcacchi’s classic work on funeral customs with the beautifully engraved plates in very good, clear impressions. Among the Italian texts of the 16th century dedicated to the funerary ceremonies of the ancients, the ‘funerali antichi di diversi popoli, et nationi’ is certainly one of the most interesting. First of all, for the typographical and, simply, graphic presentation of the book; then for the position it occupies in the editorial panorama of ‘Funerary’ works, which already counted some illustrious examples in Italy and beyond the Alps; then for the its remarkable commercial success and finally, as an emblematic product of the joint efforts of an experienced writer, Tomasso Porcacci, a rising engraver, Porro, and a small printer who was seeking to make his way in the jungle of the Venetian press, Galignani. Porcacchi’s comprehensive survey covers the rites of the Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Ethiopians, Jews, Indians, Scythians, Turks, Persians and Celts, to name but some. “there is also a study of embalming as historically practised by different cultures such as the illustrated  1574 publication in Venice by Porcacchi … In this dialogue the author makes reference to scholars who had recently lectured on the subject in Venice.” Knapton. ‘Venice and the Veneto during the Renaissance’.

“Porcacchi in his dedication to Ottaviano Manini, refers to Porro, ‘che nell intaglio, nell eccellenza dell ingegno in questa professione non ha molti pari…..”  The text is in the form of a dialogue discussion of the plates and begins by discussing the artist. Porro is described as an extraordinary artist, who has overcome the handicap of defective eyesight, and also as the designer of a flying machine which will carry many men. The engravings in Pierre Woeirot’s ‘Pinax iconicus antiquorum’, “served as models for nine of these copperplates”, Mortimer. Porcacci (1530-1585) was a Tuscan scholar who spent most of his working life in Venice, where he met the Paduan engraver Porro, and they co-operated in the present elegantly illustrated book. Hoefer says of the latter, “Les planches qu’il a gravées, avec autant de délicatesse que de gout, pour divers ouvrages de son temps y sont ajoute beaucoup de prix”. A handsome copy of this beautifully illustrated work.

BM. STC It p.534. Adams P 1903. Cicognara I 1766. Brunet IV 820. “Ouvrage recherche a cause des 24 gravures dont il est orne”. Mortimer. Harvard It C16. 395.


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