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Books, Autographs & Prints

Thursday 04 July 2024 e Friday 05 July 2024, 10:30 AM • Rome


Alighieri, Dante

(Firenze 1265 - Ravenna 1321)

The Comedy [Commentary by Christophorus Landinus]. Addition: Marsilius Ficinus, Ad Dantem gratulatio [in Latin and Italian], 1487


€ 40.000 - 60.000

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Brescia, Boninus de Boninis, de Ragusia, 31 May 1487. In 2nd. 348 x 222 mm. . Roman characters 110:R for the text and 81:R for the commentary, white spaces for initials, illustrated by 68 splendid full-page woodcuts attributable to two different artists and enclosed within ornate woodcut frames on a criblé background, used previously in the imprinted Catullus by de' Bonini in 1485, typographical mark on a black background and the initials “B.B.” on the reverse of the penultimate leaf, tear on the lower white margin of c.a2, paper c healed and restored on the external margin, c.o2 small hole restored, EXCELLENT copy in SPLENDID FULL BROWN LEATHER BINDING from the 18th century .XIX with gold inscriptions on the plates (title and typographical data) and refined phytomorphic decorations on the spine, gilt cuts, defects on the hinges, binding by the famous bookbinderKatharine Adams (1862 – 1952) performed in 1904 . Ex libris on the pastedown of Alfred Acland, subsequently passed to the library of C.H. St John Hornby Shelley House, Chenlsea in December 1923. Another handwritten ownership note on the first leaf , perhaps by a seventeenth-century hand.

Specialist Notes

Second illustrated version of the Comedy, but first edition with illustrations of Hell and Purgatory. «[...] can be said to be the first truly illustrated edition of Dante's poem, being that of 1481 (of which the present one is an exact copy in terms of the text) adorned with few engravings» Mambelli, 12. One of the editions of greatest success of the Comedy, considered the model of all the Venetian illustrated editions that appeared subsequently.

"The edition of the Comedy published in Brescia by Bonino Bonini, as the colophon states, «the last day di mazo MCCCCLXXXVII" occupies a leading role in Dante's bibliography. The merit does not lie in the particular textual care (it is in fact the eleventh edition in chronological order of the poem, reproduced here with the commentary by Cristoforo Landino, published for the first time in Florence in 1481), as well as in the large iconographic corpus which makes it the second illustrated edition, after the Florentine one printed by Niccolò di Lorenzo in 1481 (ISTC id00029000). In the Florentine version only the first 19 cantos of the Inferno are accompanied by the same number branches engraved by Baccio Baldini based on drawings attributed to Sandro Botticelli. For this reason, the Brescia edition of 1487, entirely illustrated (although with some misunderstandings) up to the first canto of Paradise, can rightly 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, Comedy Brescia, Bonino Bonini, 1487 Iconographic repertoire of woodcuts, Milan, 2012).

The woodcuts were assigned to two different hands, one of which also created the woodcuts for the edition of Aesop by Bonino in the same year; they have also been linked to the artist Giovanni Antonio da Brescia. In the woodcuts of Hell the action generally moves from top to bottom within each illustration, while in Purgatory from bottom to top. 'high. The only woodcut for the Paradiso seems to refer to a later canto, not to Canto I, but was presumably placed at the beginning, being the only illustration for the entire cantica. Dante's manuscript copies have been illustrated after 1330 and, even then, many of them do not have a complete set of illustrations (although the Inferno is usually fully illustrated). Most manuscripts were produced in Florence, where there was the greatest demand for Dante's works, so the appearance of the first printed editions in Brescia and Venice in the 1480s represents a shift in the Dante market beyond the borders of Tuscany. The illustrative cycle of this edition was an impressive strategy by Bonino that gave his book a notable commercial advantage over all his competitors, who imitated him later.Mambelli 12; HC* 5948; Goff D, 31; BMC VII, 971; IGI 362; Sander 2312.

Condition report

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