COLBERT’S COPY

Buc. Geor. Aeneis P. Virgilii Maronis Mantuani doctiss. virorum notationibus illustrata opera et industria Io. A. Meyen Bergizomii Belgae.

Venice, apud Aldum, 1580

£6,750

8vo. pp. [xlviii], 947 [i.e. 927], [i]. Italic letter, some Roman. Title within architectural woodcut border, medallion portrait of Aldus the elder below, floriated woodcut initials in several sizes, “Bibliotheca Colbertina” in slightly later hand on upper blank margin of t-p., C20th engraved bookplate on pastedown. Light age yellowing, t-p fractionally dusty, rare marginal mark or spot. A fine copy in mid C17th red morocco, covers triple ruled to a panel design ‘a la Duseuil’, fine corner pieces to outer panel with scrolled and pointillé tools, spine with gilt ruled raised bands, double gilt ruled in compartments richly gilt with fine scrolled tools to corners, with small and pointillé tools, title lettered in gilt, edges and inner dentelles gilt,  combed marble end-papers, a.e.g.

An excellent edition of the three major works of Virgil, the Eclogues, the Georgics, and the  Aeneid, with the extensive notes and prefatory material by Paulus Manutius, of great influence in the dissemination of the works of Virgil throughout renaissance Europe. The work is prefaced with a letter from J. Meyen to Vincenzo Gonzaga, dated Dec.1576, a preface by Paulus Manutius to Torquato Bembo, 1558, a letter from Aldus the Elder to Pietro Bembo, and a letter from Aldus the younger to the reader. Paulo Manutius’s edition of Virgil with his notes was a bestseller in Europe, and was often reprinted by other publishers; three editions appeared in England. “The Metamorphoses showed Marlowe how nature had framed the cosmos in four elements. Virgil’s pastorals introduced him to Silenus, the bard who ‘sang how, through the great void, were brought together the seeds of earth, and air, and sea, and streaming fire withal; how from these elements came all beginnings’. (6.31-6). When Marlowe encountered this seminal passage in Paulus Manutius’s standard edition of Virgil, the headnote told him that Silenus’s song contained Epicurus’s opinion about the nature of things and showed the way from the lesser genre of pastoral to the greater space of poetic fables” J.R. Mulryne. ‘Shakespeare, Marlowe, Jonson: New Directions in Biography.’

From the library of Colbert in very fine red morocco, with his second librarian’s, Etienne Baluzes’ note ‘Bibliotheca Colbertina’ at the head of the title-page. The binding is of an apparently simple mid seventeenth century design but this belies the fineness of the tools used and the extraordinary quality of the workmanship. The work and scrolled tools, with use of fine pointillé tools, is reminiscent of Le Gascon. The library of Colbert grew with the man himself. Born in 1619, from 1645 to 1651 he was assistant to Michel Le Tellier, secretary for the army, from 1651 to 1661 he served as financial intendant for Cardinal Mazarin, and from 1661 to 1683 he was first minister for Louis XIV, one of the most influential men in C17 France. Colbert appointed the mathematician and scholar Pierre Carcavi to oversee his library, and in 1667 when Carcavi became a keeper for the Royal Library, Etienne Baluze succeeded him. Under Baluze the library grew enormously. When Colbert died in 1683 his library contained 23,000 books and 5,212 manuscripts. It passed to his son, the marquis de Seignelay, and Baluze continued to be its librarian until 1700. It was sold in 1728, most of his manuscripts were purchased by the king, while his printed editions were sold at auction all over Europe..

BM STC It. C16th p. 731. Renouard 227:4. Adams V510.

L2399

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