London, South Kensington
9 June 2015
IMPERATO, Ferrante (1550-1625). Historia Naturale. Venice: Combi & La Noù, 1672. 2° (321 x 205mm.). Title printed in red and black with engraved vignette, one double-page engraved plate, numerous woodcut illustrations. (Short wormtrack in the bottom margin of the first few gatherings, faint marginal dampstain in some leaves, occasional small rust spot.) Contemporary mottled roan, gilt spine label (neatly rebacked preserving the label, extremities rubbed, corners repaired). Provenance: J.B. Holzinger (1835-1912; bookplate).
An attractive copy of the second, augmented edition of the catalogue of Neapolitan apothecary Ferrante Imperato’s natural history museum, one of the finest specimen collections of its day. Imperato and his son are shown in a large and striking copper-engraving, pointing out exhibits to visitors. When it was first published in 1599, as a woodcut, this was one of the earliest representations of a Wunderkammer in a book. The text, by Galilei’s friend Antonio Stigliola, includes five books on metallurgy, nine on alchemy, and the rest on the animal and vegetable kingdoms. Brunet III;431; Hunt 321; Mortimer, Harvard Italian, 240; cf. Nissen ZBI 2111.
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