[COLONNA, Francesco (1433-1527)]. Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, in Italian. Venice: Aldus Manutius for Leonardus Crassus, December 1499.
Super-chancery 2 (272 x 180mm). Collation: \Kp\k4 a-y8 z10 A-E8 F4 (\Kp\k1 title, \Kp\k1v dedicatory letter by Crasso to Guido, Duke of Urbino, \Kp\k2r poem to Crasso by Giovanni Battista Scita, \kp\k3 synopses in verse and prose, \Kp\k4v verses by Andrea Maro of Brescia, a1r second title, a2r book I, A1r book II, F3r colophon, F3v epitaphs, F4r errata, F4v blank). 234 leaves. 39 lines. Type: 115R (evolved from 2:114), 7:114Greek, 10:82R, 9:84Greek, square Hebrew, letters AM corrected in manuscript in line 5 of second title (a1r). 172 woodcuts attributed to the Paduan miniaturist Benedetto Bordone, of which 11 are full-page (the Priapus cut uncensored), 39 woodcut initials form an acrostic spelling of the name Franciscus Columna. (Occasional small stain or marking, small marginal hole in C1, repaired tear in errata leaf with a few letters made good.) Italian dark brown goatskin of c. 1565-79, gilt-tooled with the name of Cardinal Benedetto Lomellini on front cover and of Vincenzina Lomellini on back cover with Psalm 119 ('Suscipe me...') across both covers, empty armorial shield at centre, the one on front cover surmounted by a cardinal's hat, gilt edges (gilt worn, rebacked, probably over new boards, and probably a remboitage); modern box.
FIRST EDITION of the most celebrated illustrated printed book of the Italian Renaissance. The present copy may have been owned by Cardinal Benedetto Lomellini 1517-79, Cardinal 1565). The Lomellini were a noble Genoese family who were connected by at least one book to the renowned Grimaldi library, having later owned an Apollo and Pegasus binding (Hobson 40). The binding here is tooled also with the name of Vincenzina Lomellini, a niece of the Cardinal and benefactor of religious houses in Genoa, and Psalm 119, commonly recited at a monastic profession.
The Hypnerotomachia Poliphili tells the tale of Polifilo in search of his lost love, Polia. His journey takes him through a fantastic dream-world of pyramids and obelisks, classical gardens, ruined temples and bacchanalian festivals, thereby serving as a treatise on art and architecture, as well as a sort of humanist encyclopedia as suggested by explicative near-contemporary annotations written into a copy at Modena (D. Stichel, 'Reading the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili in the Cinquecento, marginal notes in a copy at Modena,' Aldus Manutius and Renaissance Culture, Essays in memory of Franklin D. Murphy, Florence: 1998).
The Hypnerotomachia Poliphili epitomizes the Aldine mastery of type, illustration, design and execution. The identity of the artist responsible for the renowned woodcuts has long been debated, but the Paduan miniaturist Benedetto Bordone, active primarily in Venice, is now widely and reliably considered their author. HC *5501; GW 7223; BMC V, 561 (IB. 24499-24502); Renouard Alde, 21.5; Sander 2056; Essling 1198; Goff C-767.