Il Duomo di Milano

Milan, Francesco Paganello [Antonio degli Antoni], 1597


FIRST EDITION. 16mo, pp. (16), 142, (ii). Roman and Italic letter, printed side notes, printer’s woodcut device on title page, decorated initials and typographical head- and tailpieces, beautiful engraved medallions representing the Virgin surrounded by putti under a baldachin on recto of fol. 8 and a portrait of the author on verso. Light age yellowing, the odd marginal spot or mark, slight water stain in first couple of gatherings; small marginal worm trail to a few leaves, ink corrections to verso of *7, small repair to lower margin of p. 29, small tear from blank lower corner of p. 91, a few leaves untrimmed. A good, clean, wide, copy in contemporary limp vellum, early title to spine, remains of ties, worn at corners. Inscriptions in early hands on t-p (“Mediolanum”) and rear pastedown.

Rare first edition of the earliest historical guide to Milan by the Jesuit and historian Paolo Morigia (1525-1604), describing the Cathedral of Milan and a few other religious monuments, and extensively dealing with art theory. It is enriched by two beautiful engravings, not appearing in later issues. Morigia was Superior of the Jesuit house of San Girolamo and wrote numerous works of religious history, in particular on his own order. His most important works known are “Historia dell’antichità di Milano” (1592), providing invaluable sources on life and work of the painter Arcimboldo, and “La nobiltà di Milano” (1595).

The dedication to the Cardinal Federico Borromeo (1564-1631), archbishop of Milan from 1595, defines the Cathedral of Milan as the “eighth wonder of the universe” and summarises the contents, mainly concerning location, size and appearance of the building, as well as its relics and list of cardinals and archbishops. The work consist of 25 chapters: 1-6 deal with the foundation of the Cathedral (1386), devoted to the Virgin, under Giovanni Galeazzo Visconti, Duke of Milan, and describe external and internal architectural features, particularly its layout (nave, transept and chancel, pulpits, altars and glass windows), with reference to materials, decoration and iconography; 8 concerns the Archbishop’s palace; 8-9 the sepulchres of important cardinals and archbishops (Carlo Borromeo and others) and notable contemporaries, such as Marino Caracciolo, Governor of Milan, and Giovanni Giacomo Medici, Marquise of Melegnano, by the well-known Milanese artists Agostino Busti (Agosto Zabaraia) and Leone Leoni; 10 about the consecration of the Main Altar by Pope Martin V; 11-12, 19 are about the bodies of Saints and the Holy relics of Mary and Christ, especially the fragments from the Cross and the nails, which the Emperor Constantine received as a gift from his mother Helena; 15 contains a list of silver items, canonicals and other precious vestments used during the ceremonies; a number of chapters are dedicated to the organisation and political role of the Church of Milan from its origin under the apostle St. Barnabas and bishop St. Ambrose, to the history and works of the archbishops, amongst the others, Pietro Oldrato and Valberto Medici, who rescued Italy from the tyranny of the Longobardians and Arab peoples with the intervention of Charlemagne and the German Emperors. Morigia’s book is a detailed description of the history and heritage of Milan revealing many of its hidden treasures and providing names of the artists (above all, the architect Giovanni Battista Clarici) and valuable information from Milan’s old archives, including a detailed list of the expenses related to the construction of the Cathedral.

Only the National Art Library recorded in the UK. Only 4 copies in the US (Amherst College Library; Notre Dame, Indiana; Illinois and Yale University). Not in Adams; not in BM STC It; not in Brunet or Graesse.

In stock