MACHIAVELLI, Niccolo (1469-1527). [Opera:] Discorsi sopra la prima deca di Tito Liuio. -Il Prencipe. -Historie. -Libro dell'arte della guerra. Venice: Aldine Press, 1540.
4 volumes in 2, 8° (159 x 99mm). Aldine dolphin-and-anchor device on all title-pages and at end of each volume, initial spaces with guide-letter, 7 schemas of military plans. (Small repaired erasure on first title in both volumes.)
BINDING: Venetian bindings by the Fugger Binder in 1547 for Antoine Perrenot de Granvelle; gold-tooled chestnut morocco over pasteboard, panels on sides in gilt and blind, title of the first work in each volume and author's name lettered on upper cover, spines with 3 double and 4 single bands, compartments with bands of blindtooling, edges gilt and gauffered with dotted-line frame, purple title band painted across upper fore-edges and number '2' below (gold lettering hardly decipherable), remains of 4 brown silk fore-edge ties (expert repair at top of upper hinge on volume one and at bottom of upper hinge on volume two, very light wear at extremities); modern brown cloth solander box. De Marinis 2364; Hobson/Culot2 9.
PROVENANCE: Antoine Perrenot de Granvelle, Bishop of Arras, created Cardinal in 1561 (motto 'Adversante fortuna' written on front flyleaf of each volume, armorial stamp on first title verso and on penultimate verso of last volume) -- [De Meuleneere, Brussels bookseller, cat. 1930, no. 370] -- Gérard Hupin.
Antoine Perrenot de Granvelle (1517-86) enjoyed a humanist education at Louvain and Padua, where he was a protegé of Bembo, before embarking on an illustrious political and ecclesiastical career. He became Bishop of Arras at the age of 21, served as Regent of the Netherlands, and was created Cardinal in 1561. He was a gifted linguist, speaking 7 languages fluently, and active scholar, corresponding with men such as Fulvio Orsini, Paolo Manuzio, Plantin, and J.J. Fugger. A portion of his library was purchased by Abbé Boisot in 1664 for the Benedictine monastery of St. Vincent and survives in the Besançon Municipal Library. Another copy of the 1540 Aldine Machiavelli (Historie) identified as Granvelle's survives at Besançon Public Library (BMB 224.152; cf. Les Granvelle et l'Italie, 1996, no. 72).
The present volumes were part of a large order of books and other luxuries shipped to Granvelle at Augsburg in 1547 through the offices of the imperial postmaster Ruggiero de' Tassis. A large portion of this shipment consisted of Aldine press books, as the present example, bound by the Fugger Binder. Granvelle's was the Fugger Binder's first significant commission, and it can be no coincidence that his second (beginning in 1548) was for his eponymous patron, a commission perhaps suggested to Fugger by the arrival at Augsburg of Granvelle's shipment in 1547.
FIRST ALDINE EDITION of the works of Machiavelli. 'Il est extrêmement rare de trouver ces quatre volumes réunis et bien conservés' (Renouard), and indeed no complete copy has been sold at auction since 1971 (when one copy was offered as two separate lots). THE WITTOCK COPY HAS NO RIVAL IN COMBINING COMPLETENESS, CONDITION AND PROVENANCE. Adams M-14, 40, 25, 33; Renouard, Alde, pp. 119-120, 2-5.