Venice, haer. Aldo I Manuzio, 1553.
FIRST EDITION. 8vo. ff. 112 (viii). Italic letter, little Roman. Woodcut Aldine device to t-p, decorated initials. Slight spotting to a few ll. An exceptionally clean, excellent copy in C18 quarter vellum, gilt-lettered label to spine, C19 bibliographical information, casemark to front pastedown, armorial bookplate of Baron Landau.
Exceptionally good, clean copy of the first edition of a pastoral composition written jointly by Baldassarre Castiglione and Cesare Gonzaga. A commercial enterprise, it features a dedicatory letter by the poet Anton Giacomo Corso explaining how Castiglione and Gonzaga’s ‘Eclogue’ had been preserved in ms. in his own library for a long time and was now being finally revealed to the world—incidentally—together with the second edition of his own ‘rime’, which occupies most of the work. Castiglione (1478-1529) was a courtier, soldier, diplomat and greatly influential author. His name appears indeed at the top of the t-p of this edition, published a quarter of a century after his death and the publication of ‘Il Cortegiano’—the internationally-acclaimed manual for courtiers in the Renaissance. Cesare Gonzaga (1476-1512), cousin of Castiglione, was a soldier at the court of Urbino and a poet. The ‘Eclogue’, attributed almost entirely to Castiglione, is a dialogue between the shepherds Tirsi, Iola and Dameta, whose ‘pleasures’ in harping for their nymphs come close to ‘martyrdom’. It was his first vernacular composition inspired by the ‘ottava rima’ of Politian and the tradition of pastoral drama. Originally staged as a play called ‘Tirsi’ at the court of Urbino in 1506, it remained unpublished until 1553; one ms. copy was owned by Pietro Bembo in Venice, a member of the intellectual circle of Domenico Venier to which Corso (fl. 1540s) belonged. A beautifully printed testimony to Renaissance court culture.
USTC 819515; Renouard 157:18; Ahmanson-Murphy 450; BM STC It., p. 156; Brunet I, 1631; Fontanini II, 59; Gamba 1299. J. Cartwright, Baldassarre Castiglione: The Perfect Courtier, 2 vols(London, 1908), vol. 1.