ARIOSTO, Ludovico

ARIOSTO, Ludovico Orlando furioso...tutto ricorretto, et di nuoue figure adornato. Alquale di nuouo sono aggiunte le annotationi ... di Girolamo Ruscelli, la vita dell'autore, descritta dal signor Giouambattista Pigna,

Venice, appresso Vicenzo Valgrisi, nella bottega d'Erasmo, 1556


FIRST EDITION thus. 4to. 2 parts in one vol. pp. (xxiv), 556, (cxx). Quires T and V inverted. Italic letter. Text in double column. Woodcut architectural title border containing a portrait of Ariosto, angels cherubs etc., and Valgisi’s serpent device, imprint in cartouche in the lower border. “The portrait is a reverse copy of the Giolito medallion portrait introduced in 1542. The model for these laureate portraits is the profile by Titian.” Mortimer. Second title (Ruscelli’s notes) with Valgrisi’s serpent device, repeated on verso of l4, forty six woodcuts within woodcut borders as full page illustrations and an “Argomento” within grotesque woodcut border at the beginning of each canto, fine large historiated initials. First title border fractionally trimmed in lower margin, light age yellowing, the odd mostly marginal ink splash or thumb mark, minor occasional waterstain in upper margins, very occasional minor dust mark in places. A good, crisp, copy with mostly good dark impressions of the woodcuts, in early vellum over boards, rebacked to match with part of original spine laid down, corners and edges worn, a little soiled. a.e.r.

First Valgrisi edition of one of the most important and influential of the illustrated editions of Ariosto of the C16th, and first with the scholarly notes and explanations of Ruscelli; the illustrations were copied and reprinted in many editions throughout the C16th.“Valgrisi’s blocks are the first full page illustrations for Ariosto. He went one step further than Giolito as he had done in his 1552 Boccaccio in an attempt to compete with the Giolito editions. Valgrisi also placed his blocks in the instructive tradition of the Marcolini Dante. The illustration is mentioned on the title page and at the beginning of Ruscelli’s 1556 dedication to Alphonso d’Este, Duke of Ferrara. Ruscelli expalins to the reader the application of the rules of perspective to the multiple scenes in these cuts. The upper part of the block often becomes a map, offering, as Philip Hofer notes, .. a tour of the canto by hippogryph. Valgrisi’ artist (probably not Dosso Dossi; see Hofer p. 32) often varied from Giolito’s in his choice of the principal scene for illustration and relegated the Giolitos’s subjects to his background. … Valgrisi’s blocks are printed within borders with figures and grotesques. He was able to use the same blocks without borders in an edition of 1556 for the popular market. There are two different border designs for the illustrations and two smaller cherub borders for the “Argumento” to each Canto.”. Mortimer It. vol 1, 29 (1562 edition only, referring to this edition). These woodblocks were reused in many, many subsequent editions by Valgrisi and his heirs, however the blocks in this first edition were immediately reworked for later editions “small areas of shaded ground were cut away from each block” (Mortimer) making this first edition the only one with the woodcuts as originally intended. They became very used in later reprints and are nothing like as clear and fresh as in this first impression. The great Italian poet Lodovico Ariosto (1474-1533) was in diplomatic and military service before retiring to Ferrara, where he was director of the Este theatre. He was the author of odes, Latin poems, satires, sonnets, and comedies. He first published this work in 1516, which was revised in two further editions the last of which was in 1532. Orlando Furioso became one of the most influential works in Western literature and heavily influenced Spenser’s ‘The Fairie Queene’, which in turn was probably a source for one of the plots in Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing (Hero/Claudio/Don John). The work was also an influence on Lope de Vega in Spain and Jean de la Fontaine in France. A good copy, uncommon in the first edition, of this beautifully illustrated work.

BM STC It. C16th p 40 Brunet I, 433. Adams A-1668. Mortimer It. vol 1, 29 (1562 edition only, referring to this edition) Gamba 56.
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