STRADA, Jacopo de.
Epitome thesauri antiquitatumLyon, Jean de Tournes apud Jacques de Strada et Thomas Guérin, 1553
FIRST EDITION. 4to, pp. (lxxxviii) 339 (v). Roman letter, handsome woodcut incorporating printer’s device to t-p, full-page woodcut arms of Johann Jacob Fugger, count of Kirchberg and Weissenhorn (1516-1575) on verso, one large woodcut floriated initial, 488 1/8 page woodcut illustrations of coins depicting emperors from Julius Cesar to Charles V. T-p a bit dusty and soiled, light foxing to outer blank margins of a few initial ll., a little largely slight browning. A good copy, crisp and clean, in C17 reversed sheep, covers single gilt ruled, rubbed, lower outer corner of upper cover repaired, spine with gilt ruled raised bands, upper joint a bit cracked but firm, a.e. sprinkled red. Bookplate of Patricia Milne-Henderson (1935-2019) to front paste-down.
A good copy of the first edition, second issue, of this attractively illustrated work on numismatics. It features more than 450 woodcuts of coins and medals in clear impression, all with portraits of Roman emperors beautifully designed in white on a black background.
Jacopo de Strada (1507-1588) was an Italian polymath and courtier. He started his career as a goldsmith in Mantua, becoming a renowned architect, artist, antiquarian collector, art dealer and advisor. He worked in the service of pope Paul III in Rome, and at the court of the Holy Roman Emperors Ferdinand I, Maximillian II and Rudolf II. At Augsburg, he entered the circle of the rich art patron Hans Jakob Fugger, to whom this work is dedicated. For Fugger, Strada also realised an impressive suite of 2,000 drawings in pen and ink of Greek and Roman coins. His position at the Emperors’ court was high: there is a famous portrait of Strada by Titian (Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna), in which he is depicted surrounded with coins and books, and another one by Tintoretto (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam).
‘Epitome thesauri antiquitatum’ is a synthesis of Strada’s life-long work on coins, and it “originated in his own collection of coins and medals. It was printed as part of a projected work which was to have been the culmination of his extensive research in European collections as well as his own. Strada particularly notes in his preface to this Epitome the assistance he received from Guillaume Du Choul and Jean Grolier, adding praise of Grolier’s magnificent library” (Mortimer). Although, from the title, coins appear to be the main object of this work and Strada talks about the numerous examples he documented, this is not strictly a manual of numismatics. The author does not indicate the coins’ currency value, nor their size or weight. Instead, this is an interesting compilation of brief biographies of rulers from Julius Cesar to Charles V Holy Roman Emperor, in which coins are used
as the source for the images. Strada’s interest in coins is iconographical, and he focuses on describing the portraits, their symbolism and historical significance. The fine woodcuts were realised by Bernard Salomon (1506–1561), a French painter and engraver specialised in illustrating emblem books. Interestingly, in addition to emperors, the countless coins depicted in this work also show portraits of wives and noblewomen, including Cleopatra VII. Strada was only interested in the genuine material relics of the past and his choice of images indicates his ambition to provide authentic sources: in the ‘Epitome’ empty circles occasionally appear in lieu of the coins of those rulers of whom he could not find a reliable numismatic image.
From the prestigious numismatic library of Patricia Milne-Henderson (1935-2019), British art historian and collector of fine historic numismatic books, coins and medals.USTC 151288; BM STC Fr. 16 th century, p. 409; Adams S1916; Harward French 502, Baudrier X, p. 365; Davies II, 517. See Brunet V, p. 557, Graesse VI, p. 507.