Books, Autographs & Prints
Tuesday 06 December 2022 e Wednesday 07 December 2022, 03:00 PM • Rome
"The edition of the Comedy licensed in Brescia by Bonino Bonini, as the colophon states, «il dì ultima di mazo MCCCCLXXXVII» occupies a prominent role in Dante's bibliography.The merit does not lie in the particular textual attention (it is in fact the eleventh edition in chronological order of the poem, here reproposed with the commentary by Cristoforo Landino, published for the first time in Florence in 1481), but rather in the large iconographic corpus which makes it the second ever illustrated edition, after the Florentine one printed by Niccolò di Lorenzo in 1481 (ISTC id00029000).In the Florentine only the first 19 cantos of the Inferno are accompanied by as many branches engraved by Baccio Baldini on drawings attributed to Sandro Bottice lli. For this reason, the Brescian edition of 1487, fully illustrated (albeit with some misunderstandings) up to canto I of Paradise, can rightfully be considered the first successful printed attempt to illustrate Dante's entire poem. The edition is adorned with 68 well-known woodcuts, often cited, as can also be deduced from the bibliography collected in the appendix, but never the subject of an analytical study." (Giancarlo Petrella, Dante Alighieri, Commedia Brescia, Bonino Bonini, 1487 Repertorio iconografico delle silographies, Milan, 2012).The woodcuts have been assigned to two different hands, one of which also made the woodcuts for Bonino's edition of Aesop in the same year; they have also been linked to the artist Giovanni Antonio da Brescia. woodcuts of Hell the action generally moves from top to bottom within each illustration, while in Purgatory from bottom to top.The only woodcut for Paradise seems to refer to a later canto, not the Canto I, but it was presumably placed at the beginning, being the only illustration for the whole cantica Dante's handwritten copies were illustrated after 1330 and, again, many of them have no a complete set of illustrations (although Hell is usually fully illustrated). Most manuscripts were produced in Florence, where there was the greatest demand for Dante's works, so the appearance of first printed editions in Brescia and Venice in the 1480s represents a shift in the Dante market beyond the borders of Tuscany. The illustrated cycle of this edition was an impressive strategy by Bonino which gave his book a significant commercial advantage over all its competitors, who followed suit.