PAULUS FLORENTINUS (Paulo Attavanti, 1445?-1499). Quadragesimale de reditu peccatoris ad Deum. Milan: Leonardus Pachel and Uldericus Scinzenzeler, 10 September 1479.
Chancery 2o (295 x 220 mm). Collation: s2; a-z aa-nn8 oo6 (r blank, v tables; a1 blank, a2r author's dedication to Innocentius Romanus, a3r text, oo5r colophon, oo5v-oo6 blank). 296 leaves. 49 lines, double column, printed marginalia. Type: 2:79G. Woodcut portrait of the author on v. 2- to 8-line initial spaces with printed guide letters. Two Lombard initials (8- and 4-line) supplied in blue with red penwork decoration (a3r and n8v), 2 plain blue initials on q5v (4- and 2-line), yellow capital strokes on a few leaves only. Later (16th-century) manuscript foliation. (Upper outer corners of first few leaves a bit dampstained and softened, some minor dog-earing, marginal dampstain in last few quires, last leaf a bit stained, one or two small marginal wormholes, 3 or 4 sheets slightly browned.)
Binding: CONTEMPORARY ITALIAN WALLET-BINDING of limp vellum, back cover extended to form an overlapping fore-edge flap, six large stars of David made of brown leather thongs sewn onto outer fore-corners of covers and top and bottom of flap, toggle of rolled leather attached to flap by twisted thong (the toggle and its attachment a skillful modern restoration), fastening onto twisted tawed leather loop sewn through spine, title written in ink in a contemporary hand on upper cover; many deckle edges preserved; folding cloth case.
Provenance: manuscript chapter headings supplied in a neat contemporary hand in upper margins of rectos of a3-n8, contemporary manuscript entry in a different hand added to table on r, a few contemporary marginalia and underlinings in both hands, including long note at bottom of e8v-f1r -- LCA: pencilled initials within circle inside front cover -- [Geneva, Nicholas Rauch, 16-18 May 1960, lot 75 (to Chiesa)] -- [Lathrop C. Harper, cat. 25 no. 53] -- Otto Schäfer: sale, Sotheby's New York, 8 December 1994, lot 142 (to Quaritch).
FIRST AND ONLY EDITION of the Lenten sermons of the Florentine theologian Paolo Attavanti, a member of the Servite order, whose development in northern Italy he helped further. Attavanti participated in the humanist circle surrounding Lorenzo de' Medici and greatly admired Marsilio Ficino, who famously praised his "Orphic" eloquence. Known as the "quadragesimale dantesco," this set of sermons was inspired by meditations on the Divine Comedy.
The woodcut portrait of a cleric writing before a bookshelf, identified as the author by the initials on the lintel at bottom "M.P.F.O.S.S." (Magister Paulus Florentinus Ordinis Sancti Spiritus) and by the patriarchal cross on his robe (repeated with the insignia of his order in the pediment of the border), is generally considered to be THE FIRST RECORDED AUTHOR PORTRAIT IN A PRINTED BOOK (cf. R. Mortimer, "The Author's Image: Italian Sixteenth-Century Printer Portraits," Harvard Library Bulletin, vol. 7, no. 2, Summer 1996, pp. 11-12). The block was first used two weeks earlier in Pachel and Scinzenzeler's edition of Attavanti's Breviarium, and later in several other editions of Attavanti's works. These included an edition of the penitential psalms with his vernacular commentary printed at Venice by Ratdolt ca. 1483-85, indicating that the block may have belonged to the author rather than the printer. Copies were used for the Lyon and Memmingen reprints of his Breviarium.
The printing careers of the Bavarians Pachel and Scinzenzeler began at the press of Philippus de Lavagna (who claimed to have brought printing to Milan). Working together from 1477 and later independently, they were the most prolific Milanese printers of their day, bringing "mass production" to a city which had hitherto known only small printing offices.
H 7166*; BMC VI, 747 (IB. 26438); BSB-Ink. A-814; Harvard/Walsh 3098; IGI 7196; Kristeller, Die Lombardische Graphik der Renaissance (Berlin 1913), 39; Sander 654; Schäfer/von Arnim 263; Goff P-182.