BONAVENTURA (pseudo-). Meditationes vitae Christi. Augsburg: Günther Zainer, 12 March 68.
Super-chancery 2o (304 x 217 mm). Collation: [110 2-48; 5-710 88] blank, 1/2r table, 1/3r text v andv blank], 8/8v colophon). 71 leaves (of 72, without the initial blank). 35 lines, table in two columns. Type: 1:117G. 2-line initial spaces. Rubricated: flourished Lombards, capital strokes and underlining in red. Pinholes visible in upper and lower margins of most leaves. (Occasional light marginal soiling, very faint foxing to a few upper margins, occasional slight smudging of rubrication, minuscule marginal tear to 2/4, a few tiny wormholes in fore-margins of last few quires.) Red morocco, gilt edges, by Rivière (small scrapes to upper cover).
Provenance: Munich, Royal Library: inkstamp -- Rev. Roderick Terry (1849-1933): bookplate; sale, American Art Assoc.-Anderson Galleries, 2 May 1934, lot 20 -- Lucius Wilmerding (1880-1950): bookplate; sale, Parke-Bernet, Part II, 5 March, 1951, lot 116 -- Eric Sexton (1902-1980): bookplate; sale, Christie's New York, 8 April 1981, lot 11 (to Lathrop Harper).
THE FIRST BOOK PRINTED AT AUGSBURG. Günther Zainer of Reutlingen and his brother Johann, Ulm's prototypographer, lived in Strassburg in the early 1460s, and both circumstantial and typographic evidence point to the likelihood that the two worked for Johann Mentelin. Günther Zainer maintained commercial relations with his native city: several of his early editions, the present included, are printed on Reutlingen paper, watermarked with Crossed Keys, the arms of the city. Over a year passed before Zainer issued another edition, the massive Balbus, Catholicon (Goff B-21), the production of which probably occupied several months. From then on he remained steadily active until his death in 1478, producing nearly 100 editions, of scholastic works, popular religious texts in Latin and the vernacular, grammars, classics and almanacs. Certain visual and textual characteristics of early Augsburg printing were established by Zainer: typefaces influenced both by the Italian founts and by the local scribal tradition, a predilection for woodcut initials and illustrations (whose use was for a time forbidden to letterpress printers by the woodcutters' guilds), and a large representation of vernacular texts (cf. Geldner I, p.134).
FIRST EDITION of this important spiritual narrative of the life of Christ, compiled by a Tuscan Franciscan ca. 1300-1330. One of the most beloved and influential writings of the Franciscan movement, the work has been called the "culminating point" of pseudo-Bonaventuran literature (Dictionnaire de Spiritualité I, 1848); it exerted a profound influence on later devotional literature, on mystery plays and on art until well into the 17th century. The authorship of the text, which incorporates the genuinely Bonaventuran Meditationes de passione, has not been settled. Recent attributions to Johannes de Caulibus and Johannes de Laudibus are without foundation. Widely read and translated in Italy and to a lesser degree in France and England (where it circulated under the title Speculum vitae Christi), the Meditationes were eclipsed in Germany and the Low Countries by the closely related Vita Christi of Ludolph of Saxony (see lot 75). Of 58 recorded incunable editions this first edition is one of only four printed in Germany. Zainer's edition, which, like the majority of manuscripts, presents the text anonymously, is that of the full version of the text in 95 (instead of 40) chapters. No further Latin editions appeared for 17 years, until Antoine Caillaut reprinted the text in Paris, attributing it to Bonaventure.
This copy with the variant readings of 1/3r, line 1 as in GW main entry; 4/5r line 1 as in GW Anm. H 3557*; BMC II, 315 (IB. 5402-3); BSB-Ink. B-681; CIBN B-659; GW 4739; Goff B-893.