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    Sale 2013

    Important Scientific Books: The Richard Green Library

    17 June 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 343

    WITELO, Jakub (ca 1230-after ca 1275). Peri optikes [in Greek], id est de natura, ratione, & projectione radiorum visus, luminum, colorum atque formarum, quam vulgo perspectivam vocant, libri X. Nuremberg: Johann Petri, 1535.

    Price Realised  

    WITELO, Jakub (ca 1230-after ca 1275). Peri optikes [in Greek], id est de natura, ratione, & projectione radiorum visus, luminum, colorum atque formarum, quam vulgo perspectivam vocant, libri X. Nuremberg: Johann Petri, 1535.

    2o (305 x 200 mm). Title printed in red and black, with a large emblematic woodcut, full-page woodcut coat-of-arms of the dedicatee Charles V, more that 500 woodcut diagrams in text. (Some light marginal dampstaining.) 19th-century mottled sheep (some light rubbing to edges, light wear to foot of spine). Provenance: Robert S. Dunham (sold Sotheby's New York, 11 December 1993, lot 782).

    FIRST EDITION OF THE EARLIEST COMPREHENSIVE EUROPEAN WORK ON OPTICS, and the first work containing descriptions of medieval laboratory instruments. Witelo, Perspectiva, or Opticae libri decem, written ca. 1270 is a massive work that relies extensively on Alhazen as well as other ancient writers on optics. 'The most outstanding feature of Witelo's method was his combination of manual and technical skill with mathematics for quantitative experiments with instruments. An excellent example of the use of this combination in the construction of an instrument is his work on the parabolic mirror, with which Alhazen's writings as known in Latin showed no acquaintance, though Roger Bacon had understood its essential properties ... [He] made some admirably original observations on the more purely psychological aspects of vision. These related chiefly to direct perception and the effects of association and reasoning on vision, and such problems as illusions, visual beauty, and the perception of distance and size and of the third dimension of space" (Crombie Robert Grosseteste and the Origins of Experimental Science p. 218). Witelo's work, served as the standard reference work on optics and was not surpassed until the seventeenth century, influencing scientists such as Brahe, Kepler, Galileo, and Descartes. Adams V-898; Durling 4745; Stillwell Science 254.


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