BOCCACCIO, Giovanni.

BOCCACCIO, Giovanni. The modell of VVit, Mirth, Eloquence, and Consueration. Framed in Ten Dayes, of an hundred curious Pieces, by seven Honorable Ladies, and three Noble Gentlemen. [with] The Decameron, containing An hundred pleasant Novels.

London, Isaac Jaggard for Matthew Lownes, 1625, 1620

£17,500.00

Two works in one. FIRST ENGLISH EDITION of the second, second English edition of the first. Folio. Ff. (v) 193; (xv) 187. Roman letter, some Italic. 1: Woodcut tp with frontispiece reused from 1593 edition of Sidney’s Arcadia (McKerrow & Ferguson 212). 2: Woodcut tp with six woodcuts (the same as those printed within the texts of both works) within ornamental border. Floriated woodcut headpieces and initials and ornamental tail pieces, half page woodcuts interspersed with scenes of civilian life including dining, bathing and dancing, throughout both works. Engraved armorial bookplate of Thomas Hamilton, 7th Earl of Haddington (1721-1794) to verso of first tp, ms to tp and fly ‘E 3 = 2’, autograph to tp ‘J Badminton’ (John Badminton (1777-?)). Ms to page edges ‘Boccacc’ between star and heart. Slight browning and ink stains to first tp, light age yellowing. Occasional light oil and ink spots, mainly marginal, light foxing or browning to last couple of leaves. A clean and handsome copy with very generous margins in contemporary speckled calf with triple blind ruled border, spine rebacked C19, aer.

Two of the first editions of Giovanni Boccaccio’s (1313-1375) Decameron, translated into English and printed by Isaac Jagaard (? – 1627), printer of Shakespeare’s First Folio. The Decameron was translated into English remarkably late, having previously been read by English readers in the original Italian or via the French translation. The anonymous translator states that the patronage of Sir Philip Herbert, Earl of Montgomery (1584-1650) supported the publication of the pioneering first English edition as well as the second edition of Volume 1. Herbert was a prominent courtier and nobleman, and formed one half of the “incomparable pair of brethren” to whom Shakespeare’s First Folio was dedicated in 1623. The first edition and Vol 1 of the second edition of ‘The modell of VVit, Mirth, Eloquence, and Consueration’ are present in this copy; a second edition of Vol 2 was not published.

The 1620 edition “follows the Italian source text in its composition” (Armstrong, Guyda. “Paratexts and Their Functions in Seventeenth-Century English “Decamerons””, 2007), but some elements are omitted: two tales are replaced for being unsavoury to contemporary English tastes, for example the last tale of the Third day is substituted for the story of the prudent princess Serictha. Both editions are “deluxe products in folio format, generously illustrated with decorative title-pages, woodcuts, ornaments, and illuminated capital letters.” (Guyda, 2007). The books were marketed as forms of entertainment, with the change to a more informative title in the second edition arising from a desire to present the work as an important source of knowledge and indispensable work of Italian early modern literature. Interestingly, in the first edition Boccacio’s name is absent. The presence of the ‘Renowned Boccacio’ on the second edition demonstrates the success of the first edition, and consequential increased fame of the original author. Pforzheimer 71 states that Shakespeare used Boccaccio’s tales in several of his plays.

The woodcut on the tp of the second edition is reused from the 1593 edition of Sidney’s Arcadia. The same design was also used in a 1595 translation of Machiavelli’s Florentine History, a 1633 edition of Sidney’s collected works as well as a 1617 edition of Spenser’s collection works. Because of this, the ornamental border contains a number of specific allusions to Sidney’s Arcadia: the central characters of Musidorus, Pyrocles, Dorus, and Cleophila feature, as well as the author’s family crest. The lower emblem depicts a boar retreating from a marjoram bush with the motto ‘Spiro Non Tibi’. The animal recoils from the nutritious and beneficial source of food, demonstrating his own poor judgement, and thus giving a lesson on the condemnation of ignorance. 

The armorial bookplate is of Thomas Hamilton, 7th Earl of Haddington (1721-1794). He studied at Oxford before travelling the continent. In Geneva he became part of what was known as ‘Our Common Room in Geneva’, a group established by William Windham (1717-1761) and Benjamin Stillingfleet (1702-1771) for Brits travelling in Switzerland where the members would dine together daily, discuss literature and the arts, perform plays and pantomimes as well as journeying into the Alps (Rowlinson, J.S., ‘Our Common Room in Geneva’ and the Early Exploration of the Alps of Savoy, Royal Society, 1998).

ESTC S107074; ESTC S106639; Pforzheimer Vol I 71 & 72; Lowndes Vol 1 224; Grolier, Wither to Prior I, 250.
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