Della architettura libri due.

Padova, Francesco Bolzetta, 1629.


FIRST EDITION. 4to. 2 parts in 1, pp. (xx) 252 (viii) 244 [253-497] (ii). Italic letter, with Roman. Separate t-p with printer’s device to each, c.100 woodcut plates of geometrical diagrams and architecture, decorated initials and headpieces. Very faint occasional foxing, t-p a bit dusty. A fine copy in half sheep over olive pasteboards, c.1700, loss to upper cover and edges, a.e.r. Spine in five compartments, raised bands, gilt title. Inscription ‘Monasterij Weingartensis 1659’ and faded library stamp to t-p, modern marginal annotation ‘vedi 313’ at 336. 

Excellent, clean copy of the first edition of Giuseppe Viola Zanini’s ‘Della architettura libri due’, a descendant of humanist manuals inspired by Vitruvius’s ‘De architectura’. A copy was in the library of Inigo Jones. Giuseppe Viola Zanini (c.1575-c.1631) was an Italian architect, painter, art theorist and cartographer. He spent his life in Padua first as a student of Vincenzo Dotto, a follower of Palladius, and then as architect and painter of architectural perspectives, the only example of which survives in Palazzo Cumano. Divided into two parts and probably intended to have a third, ‘Della architettura’ discusses as much the basics as the technical sophistication of architecture, blending the ‘utile’ of technical knowledge and the ‘dulce’ of anecdotes, plates and illustrative references to Venetian and Paduan buildings. A gifted writer, Zanini explains with exceptional, succinct, clarity the complexity of geometry and polygons, the rules of perspectival construction in paintings, façades and ceilings, and the five orders of architecture. He also addresses the principles of quake-proof architecture in Venice and the effects of adverse weather on buildings. Whilst, like Henry Wotton’s ‘Elements of Architecture’ (1624), the work was inspired by great encyclopaedic predecessors including Serlio’s ‘Five Books’, its ideal readership also included learned connoisseurs who would draw pleasure, for instance, from a discussion of building materials enlivened by poetic quotations. 

USTC 4007830; Graesse VII, 330 [writes ‘1619’ instead of ‘1629’]; BL STC It. C17, p. 963; Fowler 346. Not in Riccardi.


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