AUGUSTINUS, Aurelius (Saint). De civitate Dei. Commentary by Johannes Ludovicus Vives (1492-1540). Basel: Johann Froben, September 1522.
2° (364 x 250mm). 405 leaves (collation as Adams, except for the first quire, which is aa10(10+1). Roman, italic and Greek types, 50 lines and headline, printed marginalia, colophon misdated MDXII. Fine metalcut title border in four parts after Hans Holbein, 4-part borders opening dedication, another 4-part border by Urs Graf opening the first text page, metalcut border after Holbein heading the first 'argument', printer's device within metalcut border after Holbein on final verso, metalcut historiated and ornamental initials after Holbein from several sets, one with the printer's initials and date 1520. (Occasional faint dampstain at upper margin, some very light browning, small wormhole in first few leaves.)
BINDING: contemporary Augsburg binding for Bonaccorso Grino, blindstamped pigksin over bevelled wooden boards, the sides decorated with a roll of religious scenes and other rolls, large floral tool in central panel on rear cover and in spine compartments (impression rubbed, some wear at corners). Provenance: Bonaccorso Grino (kinsman by marriage of Pillone); Odorico Pillone (edges); Sir Thomas Brooke (bookplate); Berès 82.
VECELLIO FORE-EDGE PAINTING: St. Augustine as Bishop of Hippo seated and in profile to the right with an open book on his lap, his hands clasped together, in an architectural setting with tiled floor and elaborately decorated arcade with lion's head, author's name and title lettered vertically. Other edges pink marbled with crimson.
FIRST EDITION of Vives's commentary on De civitate Dei. The Spanish humanist was persuaded to edit St. Augustine's great work by Erasmus, whom he knew at Louvain; Erasmus here contributes a laudatory address to the reader. Vives dedicated the work to Henry VIII, at the suggestion of Thomas More, in a bid for the king's patronage, and the following year he went to England, where he lectured in Greek at Oxford and became a legal adviser to Catherine of Aragon. As Catherine's star waned at the Tudor court, however, Vives returned to the Continent. His commentary on St. Augustine was held in high regard, and this edition is finely printed with metalcut borders and decorative initials after Hans Holbein and Urs Graf. Hollstein, Holbein XIV, 16, 24b, 44a-c, 116-20, 123-4, 126, 128; Urs Graf XI, 340 e-h. Adams A-2194.