[VILLAMENA, Francesco]


[VILLAMENO, Francesco] S. Francisci historia cum iconibus in aere excusis […]

Rome, Andreas de Puttis, 1594


FIRST AND ONLY EDITION. 8vo. Text engraved in upper case Roman letter. Frontispiece plus 51 numbered engraved plates, in excellent strong impression, of the life of St Francis by Francesco Villamena. Engravings centred on recto of each leaf, a few stub mounted. Latin and Italian captions beneath explaining the narrative of each scene. Marginal spots and foxing, noticeably on one leaf, wormhole to blank inner upper corner of first few leaves. A crisp, wide-margined copy in original limp vellum, a little soiled, numbers inked to upper cover.

Rarely complete copy of a beautiful series of Renaissance engravings depicting 51 episodes from the life of St Francis of Assisi (c.1181-1226) with descriptive engraved titles, in Latin and Italian. All other copies appear to have at least one missing plate or lack the frontispiece. Canonised in 1228 by Pope Gregory IX, Saint Francis is best-known as the founder of the Franciscan order, a significant religious group during the Renaissance. Scenes include his birth (pl.1), death (pl.50) and St Francis with Popes Nicolas IV (1288-1292), Alexander V (1409-1410), Sixtus IV (1471-1484), and Sixtus V (1585-1590) (pl.51), all members of the Franciscan Order. Other recognisable tableaux include his reception of the stigmata on Mount La Verna (pl.46), a popular motif in art of the time, the apparition of and conversation with Christ (pl.14), and his meeting with the Sultan of Turkey (pl.13). The plates are the work of Italian engraver Francesco Villamena (1564-1624), born in Assisi. Having trained in Rome under Cornelis Cort, he studied painting and engraving, choosing historical and religious subjects.

The very detached images reflect the artistic style of the time, creating a sense of space, using linear perspective, usually rendered through the incorporation of orthogonal lines into the surroundings, and by careful modelling of the characters’ clothing. Light and shade are `created effectively by varying the direction and thickness of lines, as well as cross-hatching. While the events recorded date from the 12th C, the figures are characteristically depicted in contemporary garments.

USTC: 863350, Grund: p.511, not in Berlin Cat.
Stock Number: L4418 Categories: , , , ,