GIOVIO, Paolo (1483-1552, Bishop of Nocera). De vita Leonis decimi Pont. Max. libri quatuor. Accesserunt Hadriani sexti Pont. Max. et Pompeii Columnae Cardinalis vitae. Florence: Laurentius Torrentinus, May 1548.
2° (351 x 221mm). PRINTED ON VELLUM. Collation: #4 A-I6 K-L4 M-N6 O4 P-T6. T6 blank. Roman type, with the dedications to Alessandro de' Medici and Ippolito de' Medici in italic. Woodcut device on title, initial spaces. (Title and a few other leaves thumb-soiled, some light browning, mainly marginal, a few holes at margins.) Green morocco gilt by J. Mackenzie, sides with a dentelle panel framed by line rules and scrollwork, flat spine directly lettered and tooled with repeated strapwork whorls, wide inner dentelles with strapwork corner-pieces, vellum pastedowns, gilt and gauffered edges (front free endpaper detached). Provenance: early shelf mark on recto of original front blank -- Philip Augustus Hanrott (his sale, Evans, 23 July 1833, 8th day, lot 1743, to Thorpe for £8-8-0) -- Beriah Botfield, acquired from Payne & Foss for £42-0-0 (P. & F. Acquisitions, p. 52; a higher price of £47-5-0 given on a loosely-inserted bibliographical note. Another bibliographical note on the front free endpaper re-emphasises that this copy is 'Printed on vellum. The only copy known').
PROBABLY UNIQUE COPY ON VELLUM OF THE FIRST EDITION. The Vita Leonis X was completed towards the end of the papacy of Clement VII, when a series of unprecedented disasters for Italy had culminated in the sack of Rome. The papacy of the first Medici pope therefore appeared to be a golden era. Yet Giovio recognised in Leo X's treaty with Charles V, signed on May 8, 1521, the start of a whole new series of ruinous conflicts for Italy, and also expressed a well-informed and independent opinion of Luther (see T.C.P. Zimmermann Paolo Giovio, 1995, pp. 28-41). Van Praet lists only two works on vellum printed by Torrentinus, Francisco Robertelli's In librum Aristotelis De arte poetica explicationes (1548) and the Moro d'Heliseo Heivodo inglese by Ellis Heywood (1556). The description of this copy of the Life of Leo X as 'the only copy known' on vellum is taken from the Hanrott catalogue. At the time of the sale, it was already in its present green morocco binding which is described as being 'richly and elegantly tooled.' The bibliographical note inserted into the book is possibly a puff by Payne & Foss who judge it to be: 'A most beautiful specimen of printing upon the finest vellum, measuring nearly fourteen inches by nine; superbly bound in green morocco with joints.' BL STC Books printed in Italy p. 303; Brunet III, 583, recording the sale of this copy for '8 liv. 8 sh. Hanrott.'