MANUZIO, Paolo (ed.)

MANUZIO, Paolo (ed.) Epistolae clarorum virorum selectae

Paris, Bernardo Torresani in Aldina Bibliotheca, 1556


16mo, ff. 123, [5]. Italic letter; Aldine device on title and final recto, both hand-coloured in gold and silver probably later; floriated headpiece and initial, both gilt, gilt underlining on final leaves; occasionally lightly dust-soiled, tiny wormhole in blank of title, nick to blank outer upper corner of last two leaves. A fine copy in mid-nineteenth-century French red morocco, gilt panels and fleur-de-lys at corners, gilt spine with floral motif, title and editorial data, gilt board edges and turn-ins, original marbled pastedown, endpapers and flys; bookplate of the French physician Ernest Bonnejoy (1833-1896) on front pastedown and of the American lawyer Charles Walker Andrews on ffep.; c18 autograph ‘L’Abbé Manuel’ on third ffep., c19 pencil note ‘See Beckford’s Cat. vol. 1 p. 211 no 2837’ on second; contemporary ex libris ‘Fran[cis]ci Ras.i’ on title, likely that of François Rasse des Noeux or Noeuds, the famous Parisian surgeon and spy in the English service.

Rare second edition (first in France) of a very successful collection of letters to or from illustrious personalities of the Italian Renaissance. On account of the success encountered in France by Aldine editions, Bernardo Torresani, grandson of Aldus’s partner Andrea, established a separate branch of the press in Paris in 1554. This collection, brought together by Paolo Manuzio, is comprised of epistles written within the thriving intellectual milieu of Padua and Venice as well as the heterodox religious circle following Juan de Valdés’s teaching. Amongst the correspondents are: Jacopo Sadoleto, Reginal Pole, Lazzaro Bonamico, Pietro Bembo, Paul III, Benedetto Ramberti, Gasparo Contarini, Pietro Carnesecchi, Gian Battista Ramusio, Pierre Bunel, Gian Battista Egnazio and Paolo Manuzio himself. One letter is addressed to Aldus from the humanist Janus Parrhasius.

Gilding and hand-colouring the Aldine device was a rather common practice in eighteenth-century France amongst wealthy collectors. For instance, the Marquise of Pompidou (1721-1764), the powerful chief mistress of Louis XV and bibliophile, had her Aldine edition of the Cortegiano 1528 painted in pink, blue and silver (BL: 674.k.15), casting on the anchor and dolphin an unexpectedly fashionable aura.

Rare. Only 2 recorded copies in the US (Morgan, Brigham Young Uni).Not in Adams. BM STC Fr., 152; Brunet, II, 1021; Graesse, II, 488; Renouard, 296:7 (‘jolie édition’): UCLA, 1049.
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