JACOBUS PHILIPPUS DE BERGAMO (1434-1520). De claris mulieribus. Edited by Albertus de Placentia and Augustinus de Casali Maiori. Ferrara: Laurentius de Rubeis, de Valentia, 29 April 1497.
Super-chancery 2° (300 x 197mm). Collation: A4; a-e8 f6 g-p8 q-x6.8 y-z6 (A1r xylographic title, A1v presentation woodcut within border, A2r author's dedication to Beatrice of Aragon, A4v index of names; a1r table of women's deeds and inventions, a1v woodcut scenes from the life of the Virgin within border, a2r text, z6r colophon and register, z6v blank). 176 leaves. 45 lines and headline. Type: 4:105G (text), 1:181G and 2:63G (index and marginalia), 5:105R (foliation). 2 large woodcuts, the first showing the author presenting his book to Beatrice of Aragon, Queen of Hungary and Bohemia, and widow of Mattias Corvinus, the second showing the life of the Virgin in 8 scenes, both within the same woodcut architectural border (signed S and dated 1493), a different woodcut border enclosing the first text page, 172 woodcut vignette portraits of famous women, including 116 repeats, printed from 52 blocks, COLOURED AND ILLUMINATED WITH GOLD LEAF BY AN EARLY HAND, opening 8-line black-on-white woodcut initial historiated with the Virgin and Child, coloured and illuminated; 4-line white-on-black initials, woodcut printer's device C (Kristeller 38), woodcut initials touched with colour. (First border just shaved at lower margin, a few small wormholes in quires a, x-z some light browning in quire r.) Italian vellum over thin pasteboard of c.1700, marbled pastedowns, blue-green edges (a few wormholes at hinges); modern blue cloth folding box. A loose single leaf (m2) with cut of St. Catherine is included. Provenance: GMZ (18th-century stamp) -- Prof. Victor Goldschmidt of Heidelberg (pencilled note on flyleaf) -- Philip Hofer (d.1984; purchased from Herbert Reichner, New York, December 1943) -- Myron A. Hofer, II (booklabel) -- James H. Heineman (sale Sotheby's New York, 26 June 1998, lot 464).
DELUXE, ILLUMINATED COPY OF THE FIRST EDITION OF A CLASSIC OF ITALIAN RENAISSANCE BOOK ILLUSTRATION. The fine woodcuts appear here for the first time. They range from full architectural borders to the numerous portrait cuts of women, many of which are generic but the last 7 are thought to be true likenesses of their subject, all contemporaries of the author. Five have been identified as: Bianca Maria Sforza, Catherina Countess of Forli and Imola, Leonora of Aragon, wife of Ercole d'Este, Danisella Trivulzia, and Cassandra Fidelis. Although unidentified, two artists may be detected in the woodcuts, working in contrasting Florentine and Venetian styles. One woodcut border is signed 'S' and dated 1493. This detail, coupled with the fact that Beatrice of Aragon, the book's dedicatee, died in 1491, suggests that the work was planned for earlier publication but then delayed.
Jacobus Philippus' work is a virtual encyclopedia of women, drawn from history and mythology and including secular and religious figures. Among the "firsts" credited to women are the invention of Egyptian letters (Isis), the invention of numbers and computation (Nichostrata), and the founding of Carthage (Dido).
No other coloured copy is known on the market. HC *2813; BMC VI, 613 (IB. 25752); CIBN J-140; Hind II, pp. 510-512; Sander 915; Schaefer/Arnim 186; BSB-Ink. I-120; Bod-Inc. J-85; Goff J-204.