Vera genealogia e discendenza della Serenissima et Inuittissima Prosapia D’Austria. Breuemente descritta da Cornelio Vitignano

Naples, Iacomo Carlini and Antonio Pace, 1599.


FIRST EDITION. 4to. pp. (xii) 27 (i). Italic letter with some Roman. Woodcut arms of Austria on title, a larger version on verso, large woodcut grotesque initials and head and tail-pieces, typographical ornaments, woodcut printer’s device on verso of last. One quire lightly browned, very minor occasional spotting. A very good copy in magnificent contemporary Italian red morocco gilt, covers gilt ruled to a panel design, outer dentelle roll, second panel filled with charming gilt floral roll incorporating grotesque heads, central panel with the large gilt arms of Cardinal Vidone at centres, fine gilt floral tools to corners, all filled with semé of small lozenge tools, spine with gilt ruled raised bands with stars gilt in compartments, remains of ties, tiny expert restoration to head and tail of spine and one corner, all edges gilt.

A superb example of a prestigious early seventeenth century Italian morocco binding belonging to Cardinal Vidone, on an interesting and appropriate work tracing the early genealogy of the House of Austria. Vidone, having studied at Pavia and Perugia, came to Rome during the pontificate of Pope Clement VIII (1592 – 1605). His rise from relatively lowly status up the Church administrative hierarchy was rapid, due to his considerable talent and skill. He became “Abbreviatore di parco maggiore” in 1604, Chamberlain of Honour to the Pope and Vice-legate of the Marche in 1606, Referendary of the Tribunals of the Apostolic Signature of Justice and of Grace, and Cleric of the Apostolic Chamber in 1609. He was later made Governor of the Civitavecchia in 1612, a post which he held until 1623, then President of Romagna from 1623 to 1625.

His success earned him the important post of Treasurer General of the Apostolic Chamber, and Commissary General of the Papal army in 1625, through which he effectively shouldered the burden of running the entire administration of the Papal domains. He received the red Cardinal hat on August 30, 1627, and the title of Ss. Quattro Coronatti, ‘pro illa vice’ deacon on October 6, 1627. His relatively short period as a Cardinal allows us to date this binding quite precisely to between 1627 and 1632, most probably crafted in Rome. The sumptuous and fine workmanship is in excellent condition, the gilding still bright and fresh with hardly any fading or rubbing. It is easy to imagine such a richly worked binding in the hands of a Cardinal.

Vitignano dedicates the work to Philip III of Spain with a short essay and poem, and includes another dedication by Giovanni Baptista de la Porta. He attempts to trace the history of the House of Austria back to the Roman Empire using inscriptions found on ancient monuments in Rome and Naples. Beautiful and very well preserved.

BM STC It. C16th. p. 734.


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