BASSI, Martino


Dispareri in materia d’architettura e perspettiva.

Brescia, Francesco e Pietro Maria Marchetti, 1572.


FIRST EDITION. 4to., pp. 53, (1) plus 12 numbered plates. Roman letter, little Italic; printer’s device on title and verso of colophon, woodcut initials, foliated or historiated, 12 finely engraved architectural plans and perspective drawings; light water stain occasionally in lower margin and in upper corner of last four plates, title and couple of leaves slightly dust-soiled. A very good copy in nearly contemporary vellum, recased, early title inked on spine; early shelf mark on title.

Fine copy of a rare first edition of Renaissance architecture. Martino Bassi (1542 – 1591) was an architect involved in the restyling and construction of many Milanese churches. Dispareri, the only work written by him, consists of the correspondence he had with, i.a., Palladio, Vignola, Vasari, and Bertano concerning a personal controversy with Pellegrino di Tibaldo Pellegrini about the plans for the Duomo in Milan. Vignola, Vasari, and Palladio endorsed Bassi’s point of view. Nevertheless, Bassi was able to take over the Duomo construction site only in 1585, when Tibaldi moved to Spain.

The first four engravings show the perspective drawings of a huge marbled relief by Pellegrini, representing the annunciation of St. John the Baptist, while the remainder focuses on the parts of the Duomo under reconstruction, i.e. the crypt and the baptistry, with a final plan of the whole building. The device of Marchetti brothers, which appears on title and on the colophon verso, clearly emulates the famous anchor and dolphin logo of the Aldine press.

Rare. No recorded copy in the US.

BM STC It., 76; Adams, B371; Brunet, I, 694; Graesse, I, 308; Berlin Kat., 2600 ; Fowler, 40 ; Cicognara, 423 (‘fra i libri rari d’arte’) ; Mortimer, Italian, 46.


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PASSE, Crispijn van de


Hortus floridus. A garden of flovvers, vvherein very liuely is contained a true and perfect discription of al the flovvers contained in these foure followinge bookes.

Utrecht, By Salomon de Roy, for Crispian de Passe, 1615.


FIRST EDITION thus. Oblong folio. Five parts in one volume. 1) ff.  (vii) [(-)1, A-C2], forty three plates of flowers, one of garden scene and one of ‘Epigramma’. 2) ff. (ii) [D1-2], one plate of garden scene, 20 plates of flowers. 3) ff. (iii) [E1-2, F1], twenty eight plates of flowers. 4) ff. (ii) [F2, G1], twelve plates of flowers. 5) ff. (ii) (title and engraved title), sixty one plates of flowers with explanatory text on versos, ff. (i) [G2]. Book one extra illustrated with two additional plates after plate 41, “Bulbus Narcisci marini” and “Radix Cyclamini.” Book three with plate seventeen from the latin version, text on verso, bound out of order, plate 24 re-margined (book four has a fine extra plate 24), extra illustrated with plates 7 and 12 from the winter section, and plate 1 of winter section bound at end. Book four with plates out of order (with plate 1 at end of book 3), extra illustrated with plate 24 from book three, plate 7 from latin edition with text on verso (the correct version is added in book 3). Roman and Italic letter. Text to Parts I-IV in English, text to Altera Pars in Latin. Additional engraved title in Latin tipped in, dated 1614, with mythical figures to sides, portraits in roundels of Dodoens and Clusius, verso of general typographic title with ‘The Book to his Readers’ within typographical border, final leaf G2r within typographical border, Altera pars with letterpress and engraved architectural title with vases of flower to the sides and explanatory text to plates I and II on verso, large historiated, white on black and floriated woodcut initials in explanatory text in Altera pars, ink ownership inscription on plate 7 in part II, “Watts Gardener to his Majesty,” most probably Richard Watts, gardener to Prince George of Denmark at Camden House, St. James’s Palace and Windsor, c. 1700 – 1703, monogram in red crayon on title. Light age yellowing, some light soiling and creasing, small tear in lower blank margin of plate 16 in book two just entering plate, a few very short marginal nicks and chips, early ink pen trials to a couple of plates, mostly confined to margins but some into plate area, plates in parts I-II numbered in ink manuscript both in margins and within plate. A lovely copy with the plates in very fine, rich, and detailed impressions remarkably preserved in contemporary English limp vellum, contained in a modern morocco-backed box by Laurenchet, rubbed, and a bit soiled and creased.

The very rare first English edition of the wonderfully illustrated Hortus Floridus, complete with the rare addition of the Altera pars, and all the plates called for in the contents; it “was without question the most popular florilegium ever published,” An Oak Spring Flora. The first edition appeared in 1614 in Latin and proved so popular that it was almost immediately followed by French, Dutch, and English editions. The introduction is enlarged with details on how to colour the plates. One of the earliest florilegia, the Hortus Floridus contains very fine realistic and delicate prints created by Crispin van de Passe, a member of a famous family of Dutch artists.

The book is divided into four sections, each corresponding with one of the seasons and prefaced with an engraving of a model garden. Most of the flowers shown are tulips, hyacinths, crocuses and other bulb plants, the new enthusiasm of the increasingly prosperous Dutch citizenry. Van de Passe’s work both documented and stimulated the Dutch passion for bulbs, which eventually led to the ‘tulipomania’ of 1636 – 1637, when speculation in tulip bulbs led to a financial crash.

Unlike earlier botanical works in which the plants were shown by themselves, van de Passe placed his specimens in a natural environment, often accompanied by insects and animals that provide a narrative element to the images. The ground level perspective of the illustrations reflects the tradition of Dutch landscape painting, characterized by atmospheric and panoramic views of the flat Dutch landscape set against a low horizon, and dominated by a vast and expansive sky. The first four parts include 106 plates by Crispin De Passe, the flowers being classified per season rather than per species.

“The plates are landscapes in miniature, embellished with animals and insects, and with the plants shown growing from the ground with a vigorous naturalism. The emphasis of the publication is on the common garden flowers, with a preponderance of spring bulbs.” Gill Saunders.

These engravings cannot be seen as solely botanical illustrations, as they also echo the artistic grammar of contemporary Flemish and Dutch painting. The following fifth part includes 61 plates featuring 120 numbered fruit trees and medical plants. According to Franken, these last series were executed by a German engraver rather than by a member of the De Passe family. The quality of the engraving is exceptionally fine and delicate and where they are preserved in fine impressions, as here, are masterpieces of horticultural art.

“By uniting scientific illustration and the genre of the still-life in Hortus Floridus, van de Passe made available a precious repertory of floral images for artists such as van der Ast, Ambrosius Bosschaert and Roelandt Savery. Some of the plates of single flowers were copied for other botanical works.” Oak Spring Flora, 12. A wonderful copy, with the plates in very fine impression, of the exceptionally rare English edition in contemporary limp vellum.

STC 19459. ESTC S110319. Oak Spring Flora, 12 .Saunders, Picturing Plants, 36-37; Nissen BBI 1494. Hunt 199; Savage, ‘The Hortus Floridus’, Transactions of the Bibliographical Society, Second Series, vol. IV, (1923) pp.181-205.


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ALBERTI, Leon Battista


L’ Architettura…, tradotta in lingua fiorentina da Cosimo Bartoli gentil’huomo & accademico fiorentino. Con la aggiunta de disegni. Et altri diuersi trattati del medesimo auttore.

Mondovi, Lionardo Torrentino, 1565.


Folio. pp. 331, (xxi). Two leaves of plates inserted. Roman letter, some Italic. Woodcut printer’s device of elephant on title, another on second title, large historiated woodcut initials, “Medallion portrait of Alberti on verso of the title. There is a similar portrait in Vasari’s 1568 Vite. Eighty-three woodcuts – diagrams, plans, elevations, architectural details, and figures demonstrating measuring instruments. Thirty-seven are full page, including six plates on three leaves, and one is double plan. The blocks are used again in the folio edition by Leonardo Torrention at Mondovi in 1565” (Mortimer I It. 12 on the first edition of 1550), two additional full page woodcuts, extensions of the upper parts of buildings, autograph ‘Di federico Ceruti’ in early hand on fly, ‘Hugh Stafford’ with price 5s? at head of title page. Very light water stain to lower margin in places, title page very fractionally dusty, rare mark or spot. A very good copy, crisp and clean with good margins, in contemporary limp vellum, yapp edges, remains of ties, stubbs from an early manuscript leaf, bands renewed, a little soiled.

A lovely copy of this most important and beautifully illustrated work, the second and more complete folio edition of Bartoli’s influential translation into Italian, with the illustrations taken from the first. “This is the first edition of L’Architectura to be issued with La Pittura.” Fowler. Alberti’s treatise on architecture was the first Renaissance work on the subject, and the first architectural work to be printed (1485). Its scope is comprehensive, ranging from the practical (including tips for lifting sculpture) to the theoretical, explicating and augmenting the classical order. His is “a complete Humanist doctrine” (Fowler) with its extensive discussion of the concept of beauty and application of humanist scholarship.

Raphael, Serlio, and Palladio were influenced by the work. As a practicing architect too Alberti exercised lasting influence; for instance, his design of the Palazzo Rucellai established the norm for palazzo facades for centuries. “His work was perhaps the most significant contribution ever made to the literature of architecture” (Krufft). Bartoli’s translation superseded Pietro Lauro’s of 1546 and became the basis of most later editions, including its translation into English. All first editions were unillustrated 1550.

“Bartoli was in the service of the Church and the Medici for the greater part of his life: his friendship with Vasari may have established his patterns of taste. His fortunate inheritance of a group of 15th-century manuscripts, among them the writings of Alberti and the Zibaldone of Buonaccorso Ghiberti, caused him to undertake one of his major enterprises – the translating of Alberti’s De re aedificatoria, which despite its fame and probably because of its profundity, was seldom published. Bartoli’s version is the first illustrated edition, and the second translation of his work. The illustrations with their emphasis on contemporary building practice, and their simple even derivative character reflect mid-century concerns on relating practice to theory. The translation would become the standard edition of Alberti’s treatise and the source of the eighteenth century Leoni folio edition.” Wiebenson I-15.

“The writer who first and most clearly rejected medieval tradition was Leon Battista Alberti (1404 – 1472), author of the De re aedificatoria. Alberti borrowed the form of the architectural treatise from Vitruvius, but could be highly critical of his model. Alberti was the more systematic of the two, and he presented architecture as an exalted pursuit, a sort of incarnate philosophy that left little room for the humble stonemasons of the Gothic. He knew the ruins of ancient Rome well, and out of the creative interplay between his archaeological and textual studies formed a more internally coherent and pristine conception of architecture than any known to antiquity. Alberti’s was only the first of a spate of architectural treatises, but no later author would espouse such grand ambitions.” Bryn Mawr College Library Special Collections. ‘Cities and Men’. A lovely copy of this beautifully illustrated and important work.

PMM 28 (1485 ed.). Adams A-488.  Mortimer, Harvard Italian 12 (1550 edn.) Fowler 8.


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FIRENS, Pierre (Ed.)


Figures of Holy Monks Hermits.

Paris, Pierre Firens, c. 1600.


Large 8vo., 48 numbered fine engraved plates by Pierre Firens I, detached fictitious title engraved about 1800; light small damp stain occasionally in lower margins. A very good copy in seventeenth-century speckled calf, contemporary gilt French title on morocco label on spine, raised and gilt bands; all edges red, original marbled endpapers; skilfully restored at joints and spine extremities; red library stamp of the French Confraternity of Fra’ Beato Angelico on front fly and verso of three plates.

An extremely rare set of fine religious engravings. Pierre Firens (c. 1580 – 1638), Flemish engraver and publisher, trained in Antwerp, moved to Paris at the beginning of the seventeenth century and was subsequently naturalised as French. Amongst his achievements were two royal portraits of Henry IV and Louis XIII, as well as some religious popular prints after old masters, including Rubens’ St. Anne. This unique collection was put together by borrowing from a vaster series published by the Sadeler brothers, Maerten de Vos and Jan van Londerseel during the last quarter of the sixteenth century, from which the Latin labels are also drawn. The plates, here in a superb and very neat impression, are often reversed and focused on the hermit saint, leaving out part of the original background. The influence of Durer and more so of Golztius models is very strong.

Among the many figures illustrated worth mentioning are Jesus as the prototype of anchorites when he fasted for forty days in the Judean desert resisting Satan’s temptations; the early fourth-century Saint Paul of Thebes, the first Christian hermit, dressed, as usual, in palm leaves; the Benedictine St. Andrew Zorard, who prayed and meditated all day in a narrow cavern, sitting dangerously surrounded by chains, prongs and swinging stones; St. Alphege, Archbishop of Canterbury (953-1012), and another popular English saint, Jodocus of Brittany (600–668). Occasionally, the holy men are tempted and tormented by little devils. An interesting and attractive work in the history of iconography.

The collection was bound in early France. In the nineteenth century, an unscrupulous owner commissioned a fictitious engraved title page, which includes Firens’ signature and the inventively anachronistic imprint: Lyon, rue de S. Jacques at the Guardian Angel, 1572.

Excessively rare. No recorded copies in the US or elsewhere.

Not in Berlin cat. nor MET, BM and V&A online cat. On Firens: Benezit, IV, 377; Nagler, IV, 2953.


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Bonorum et Malorum Consensio: The Knowledge of Good and Evil. The Story of the Family of Seth

Antwerp, np, 1586.


15 intaglio engravings on thick laid paper, based on images from Genesis, mainly after drawings by Maarten de Vos. Slightly dusty in borders, a couple of small wormholes affecting blank margin only. Engravings measure 276×210 mm, sheets 245×335 mm. Explanation below each scene in a clear italic. A very good, uncropped copy in contemporary sheep, a little worn, rebacked.


Central architectural title. On the left, the skeleton of Eve, sitting in contemplation of the fruit of the tree of knowledge against a backdrop of farming implements, on the right, the skeleton of Adam, holding scroll proclaiming ‘You are dust and unto dust you shall return’ against a background of carpentry tools. At the foot, two horns of plenty and an hourglass. Above, a shepherd and lady, supporting the large coat of arms of the Archduke Ferdinand of Tyrol (Cécile van den Berge-Pantens, in correspondence), with animals behind.

Bartsch 7001.029 S2


Against an agricultural backdrop, showing flocks grazing, a cabbage plantation, and a bustling dovecot, Adam, heavily laden with fruits of the field returns home to Eve and his family, in the foreground a pond with lilypads and ducklings.

Bartsch 7001.030 S2


Seth, assisted by his son, cuts firewood, against an increasingly domesticated backdrop. In the foreground can be seen the rudiments of a fishery.

Bartsch 7001.031 | Nagler 1835-52, no. 20 | Le Blanc, no. 40 | Wurzbach, no. 9.3 | Hollstein 1980, vol. 21, no. 31 | Edquist, p. 10, no. 14a.


In the foreground a familial colloquium in a woodland grove, showing Enoch’s descendants with their wives and children, their city behind.

Bartsch 7001.032 | Nagler 1835-52, no. 20 | Le Blanc, no. 40 | Wurzbach, no. 9.4 | Hollstein 1980, vol. 21, no. 32 | Edquist, p. 10, no. 14b.


A scene of domestic bliss, with the family at prayer before their fine house. Behind, another family, including a crippled man on crutches, come asking for alms. After a lost drawing by Maarten de Vos. | This painting served as the model for Jacob Bouttat’s Enoch y su Familia comiendo, a painting in the Museo de Navarra, Pamplona.

Bartsch 7001.033 | Nagler 1835-52, no. 20 | Le Blanc, no. 40 | Wurzbach, no. 9.5 | Hollstein 1980, vol. 21, no. 33 | Edquist, p. 11, no. 15a | Gonzalez de Zarate, p. 272.


Quasi-immortal Methuselah leans on his staff, overseeing his farm, where his relatives thresh corn, churn butter, milk cows and drive a team.

Bartsch 7001.034 | Nagler 1835-52, no. 20 | Le Blanc, no. 40 | Wurzbach, no. 9.6 | Hollstein 1980, vol. 21, no. 34 | Edquist, p. 11, no. 15b.


Adam’s body is laid to rest in a cave lit by oil-lamps, against a backdrop of mourners carrying essential oils, burning torches and fragrant reeds.

Bartsch 7001.035 | Nagler 1835-52, no. 20 | Le Blanc, no. 40 | Wurzbach, no. 9.7 | Hollstein 1980, vol. 21, no. 35 | Edquist, p. 12, no. 16a.


A stone city rises in the background, interspersed by cavorting couples, dancers and feasting. Lamech, resting from his labours, watches his son at play.

Bartsch 7001.036 | Nagler 1835-52, no. 20 | Le Blanc, no. 40 | Wurzbach, no. 9.8 | Hollstein 1980, vol. 21, no. 36 | Edquist, p. 12, no. 16b.


A lustful an riotous symposium, all pretence of work foresaken in the name of pleasure. A harbinger lurks in the background though: a divine vision.

Bartsch 7001.037 | Nagler 1835-52, no. 20 | Le Blanc, no. 40 | Wurzbach, no. 9.9 | Hollstein 1980, vol. 21, no. 37 | Edquist, p. 13, no. 17a | Piccin, no. 25.


Rape and pillage. A money chest falls to the ground, spilling its contents far and wide. Arsonists run amok, even the animals are hijacked. God looks on from heaven.

Bartsch 7001.038 | Nagler 1835-52, no. 20 | Le Blanc, no. 40 | Wurzbach, no. 9.10 | Hollstein 1980, vol. 21, no. 38 | Edquist, p. 13, no. 17b | Piccin, no. 26.


Enough is enough. God appears to Noah in a vision, Noah reveres on one knee. Behind him scenes of violence and debauchery.

Bartsch 7001.039 | Nagler 1835-52, no. 20 | Le Blanc, no. 40 | Wurzbach, no. 9.11 | Hollstein 1980, vol. 21, no. 39 | Edquist, p. 14, no. 18a.


A scene of frenzied activity, with Noah and sons building the structure of a fine wooden ark. In the background, a heron in its nest indicates new beginnings, and the storm clouds gather.

Bartsch 7001.040 S2 | Hollstein 1980, vol. 21, no. 40 | Wurzbach, no. 9.12 | Edquist, p. 14, no. 18b.


Merry-making continues in the background, seemingly oblivious to the crowds of animals making haste to the ark, two by two. In a cloud above, God selects birds. Meanwhile, Noah and co. load up with provisions.

Bartsch 7001.041 | Nagler 1835-52, no. 20 | Le Blanc, no. 40 | Wurzbach, no. 9.13 | Hollstein 1980, vol. 21, no. 41 | Edquist, p. 15, no. 19a | Piccin, no. 27.


Rain falls in sheets, and the flood rapidly rises, sweeping away all in its path. A few of the figures have allegorical connotations – in the foreground a Europa-esque figure rides a bull, thus by their deaths representing the end of sin, while on the right a Virgin-like mother prays over her child, reinforcing the message of Christ dying for us. The animals left behind, the innocent victims, run for cover. In the background, the ark stands firm.

Bartsch 7001.042 | Nagler 1835-52, no. 20 | Le Blanc, no. 40 | Wurzbach, no. 9.14 | Hollstein 1980, vol. 21, no. 42 | Edquist, p. 15, no. 19b.


Beneath a stormy sky just beginning to be penetrated by sunlight, the ark floats seemingly immovable, while the tumultuous sea around it seethes with bodies and mighty fish.

Bartsch 7001.043 | Nagler 1835-52, no. 20 | Le Blanc, no. 40 | Wurzbach, no. 9.15 | Hollstein 1980, vol. 21, no. 43 | Edquist, p. 15, no. 20 | Piccin, no. 28.

The Sadeler family were the largest, and probably the most successful of the dynasties of Flemish engravers dominant in North European printmaking in the later 16th and 17th centuries. Their distinctive technique enabled them to collaborate internally over many projects. Johan, aka Jan Sadeler (1550-1600) was the eldest of the dynasty. Connected professionally with Christopher Plantin, he came into contact both with the Dutch Reform Church, and Maarten de Vos with whom he collaborated for many years. Sadeler’s manner of engraving ‘owes much to the Antwerp school’ (Limouze).


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Old Testament Scenes: Genesis

Antwerp, np, 1590.


Series of 7 intaglio copperplate engravings, engraved by Hieronymus Wierix to the designs of Johann Sadler after Martin De Vos, the complete Genesis section from a series of thirteen scenes from the Old Testament.

1)   The Offering of Abel. Genesis 4

The shepherd Abel, kneels before a pyre on which he offers a burnt offering to the Lord, his raised arms mirroring the twin columns of smoke enveloping the Lord. In the background flocks graze.

Bartsch. 7001.049 Thieme-Becker, pp. 300-01 | Casanovas, p. 298, no. 24 | Hollstein 1980, vol. 21, no. 50 | Edquist, p. 99, no. 2 | Hollstein 1995-96, vol. 44, no. 190a.

2)   Enoch borne to heavenGenesis 5

Enoch is taken to heaven in his 365th year. As the smoke cloud rises away from his pyre, underneath are beheld his myriad descendants, of all ages.

Bartsch 7003.083. Engraved by Hieronymus Wierix after De Vos.

3)   Noah sacrifices to GodGenesis 8

Against a backdrop of the Ark, its future occupants standing nearby, Noah sacrifices to the Lord, who is once again present in a twin plume of smoke. Noah’s family stand around the altar.

Bartsch 7101.007

4)   The Angel appears to AbrahamGenesis 22

A ram is sacrificed in the foreground, Abraham perched on a rocky outcrop is suddenly surprised by the appearance of a winged angel, who points to Isaac.

Bartsch 7001.049-.050

5)   Joseph is taken from the pit and sold to the Midianites. Genesis 37

A travelling convoy in the background hints at Joseph’s ignominious fate. Carelessly, his semi-comatose form is raised from the pit for the inspection of the Midianites.

Bartsch 7003.060-.068

6)   Jacob’s LadderGenesis 28

Jacob slumbers underneath a great tree, dreaming of a great ladder which reaches to highest heaven, upon which can be seen the forms of angels.

Bartsch 7101.009, 7101.010

7)   The Supplication of EsauGenesis 32 and 33

A crowd of his dependents behind him, Esau kneels in supplication to a great army, the sunlight glinting off their armour.

Bartsch 7201.404


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GOLTZIUS, Hubertus


Lebendige Bilder gar nach aller Keysern von C. Iulio Caesare bisz auff Carolum V und Ferdinandum seinem Bruder verhaftet.

Antwerp, Gillis Coppens van Diest, 1557.


FIRST EDITION THUS. Folio. ff. (xx) 155 (iii). Roman letter, 133 magnificent, full-page portrait medallions in strong impression, coloured in several shades of ochre or brown. Slight worming to pastedown. In C17 German speckled sheepskin, gilt arms of Johann Georg Freiherr von Pichelstorff und Altenburg on covers, spine richly gilt in six compartments with raised banks, joints and corners slightly rubbed, a few small repairs, all edges speckled.

An unusually handsome copy of the FIRST EDITION in German of the FIRST BOOK with illustrations by the chiaroscuro process. The original Latin edition appeared earlier the same year. This splendid book is also the first in which a combination of etched plates and wood blocks are used in 133 large portrait medallions (plus 16 empty frames for portraits Goltzius never completed). The blocks are said to have been cut by Josse Gietleughen of Courtrai.

Goltzius (1526 – 1583) himself was a painter and engraver as well as a numismatist, with a passion for the remains of antiquity. The present work was the product of twelve years of study in Antwerp. Uniting these strands to produce a landmark in the history of book production, the illustrations remain dramatic and striking to this day. The German text is the rarest of the versions which appeared more or less simultaneously (aliter Latin, Italian and Spanish), and the portrait colour, which varies amongst them, tends towards a deep terracotta which is particularly pleasing. This copy is also free from the heavy show-through to the reverse of the portraits which spoils the work.

In 1726 Johann Georg Freiherr von Pichelstorff und Altenburg built a castle at Dross in the vast forest expanse called Waldviertel, Lower Austria. There he kept a considerable library of 17th- and early-18th-century illustrated books relating to festivals, architecture and history, of which this was a part. The castle still stands today.

“Un beau receuil des portraits des emperors romains, véritable monument artistique et historique, dans lequel une vaste érudition illustre l’habileté du graveur”. Bib. Belg. G 381. “The first use of the copper plate in connection with blocks engraved with chiaroscuro printing and also the first appearance in any form of the chiaroscuro as book illustration”. Rudolph Ruzicka, cit. Updike I p.27.


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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, contemporary manuscript ex libris ‘Biblio D.D. Corroli de Pradol, epipi Monsque’ to blank margin of title, shelf mark on pastedown. Light age yellowing, the very occasional minor marginal mark. A very good, well margined copy, crisp and clean, in contemporary limp vellum, remains of ties, head of spine restored, soiled and rubbed.

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


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BARDI, Girolamo

Dichiaratione di tutte le istorie, che si contengono nei quadri posti nouamente nelle Sale dello Scrutinio, & del Gran Consiglio, del Palagio Ducale della Serenissima Republica di Vinegia.

Venice, Felix Valgrisio, 1587.


FIRST EDITION 8vo. ff. [viii] 64. Italic letter, some Roman. Woodcut printer’s device of hands grasping a caduceus to t-p, woodcut initials. Very light foxing to first few leaves. A very good, clean copy in C17 Italian vellum, ms title to spine, edges speckled red.

First edition of Girolamo Bardi’s important guide to the paintings in the Palazzo Ducale in Venice; the work is very rare, only one copy (Cambridge UL) is recorded in Adams. Little is known of Bardi’s life, save that he came from a prominent Florentine family, which produced a number of authors and scholars. The present work is dedicated to Giovanni I Cornaro (1551-1629; Doge from 1625).

In 1577, a huge fire damaged the Sala dello Scrutinio and the Great Council Chamber in the Palazzo Ducale, causing serious structural damage and destroying numerous important paintings. Architectural reconstruction work was completed by 1579-1580, and a committee was formed to commission new works of art and devise the iconographic programme which they should follow. Bardi was a member of this committee; the present work reveals not only his ‘insider knowledge’ of the practical implementation of the restoration project, but also his deep appreciation of art and the care with which the new decorative schema was devised. Many of the paintings from this mass commissioning were inevitably workmanlike, never wholly adequate replacements for the lost works by artists such as Gentile da Fabriano, Pisanello, Alvise Vivarini, Carpaccio, Bellini, Pordenone and Titian. But there were also inspired and innovative choices, such as the new works by Tintorretto, Bassano and Paolo Veronese. (The restoration programme lasted many years, and some famous works, such as Tintorretto’s Paradise, were produced long after Bardi’s preliminary report.)

In the present work, Bardi describes the circumstances of the fire, and the reorganisation of the two rooms worst affected, the Sala dello Scrutinio and the Great Council Chamber. His detailed description of the new pictures, recording celebrated Venetian victories, essentially provides a potted version of the key events of Venetian history, as conceived by the rulers of the late sixteenth century. In addition to the historical paintings, Bardi also describes the portraits of the Doges, a permanent record of whose likeness was a consequence of office. The art historical interest of the account is increased by the fact that Bardi explains the physical layout of the rooms, with details of where each painting was hung in relation to its fellows, allowing us to reconstruct the precise appearance and disposition of the galleries at this period.

Not in BM STC Italian; Adams B 195; Edit-on line 35765; Cicogna 4669; Schlosser-Magnino 369; not in Fowler.


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The Gallery of Modern British Artists.

London, Simpkin and Marshall, and T.W. Stevens et. al., 1835.


4to. pp. 68 and 76 full-page plates. Not in Lowndes. Probably the earliest printing of these plates. Light foxing to the plate borders and engraved title page, otherwise very good. Fine, contemporary red half-morocco binding, spine gilt, a.e.g. 19th century owner’s bookplate (William Bakewell, Architect) on pastedown.

From the dating in the engravings the book must have been issued in parts between 1834 and 1836. The engraved title page is dated 1836. The engravings, partly on copper, partly on steel, were expressly made from original drawings for this particularly publication. The descriptive text explains the special features of the mostly British locations depicted.