PLINIUS SECUNDUS, Gaius (23-79). Historia naturalis, in Italian. Translated by Cristoforo Landino (1424-1492). Venice: Nicolaus Jenson, 1476.
Royal 2° (414 x 263mm). Collation: [1-2110 22-268 3710(-10, blank) 3810 398 40-4110 428 4310] (1/1 blank, 1/2r translator's prologue, 1/5v blank, 1/6r book I, 3/1v blank, 3/2r book II, 43/9v colophon, 43/10 blank). 413 (of 415, without first and final blank leaves), fos. 28/9-10 probably supplied. 50 lines. Type: 1:115R, scattered Greek. ILLUMINATED BY THE MASTER OF THE PICO PLINY, full-page architectural border opening Book II with arms, possibly of the Barbiano Belgioioso family, in lower margin flanked by bearded satyrs, potted topiaries at foot of each column, a prancing horse on lower plinths, putti on upper plinths, the whole draped with strings of beads and laurel ropes, the scene set behind an illusionistic page, initial miniature of Pliny seated before an astrolabe, 11-line illuminated initials opening each book, the first 13 by the same artist, historiated with figures of Scipio Africanus, Cato, Octavian, Hannibal and Scipio in combat, Trajan, Pompey in Charon's boat, Ptolemy, Pythagoras, Virgil, and Diogenes, the remaining book initials in gold on tripartite ground of blue, magenta, and green with white patterning with flowers and potted plants, 2-line initials alternating in red or blue, book numbers and foliation added to headline in an 18th-century hand, when blank fo. 37/10 was presumably present, since it is accounted for. (4 leaves [1/2, 28/9,10, 43,9] cut around and window mounted, small wormholes, a few touching text, in first and final quires, occasional small stains, light dampstains at some extreme margins, repaired tears in 5 leaves.) 18th-century diced russia, single blind fillet on sides, contemporary gilt and gauffered edges, rebacked in red morocco, gilt lettering-pieces (scuffed, small tear at spine and lower cover, small wormholes at spine). Provenance: ?Barbiano Belgioioso family of Milan (illuminated armorial); Jo. ?Angelis (18th-century inscription on 6/1 and occasional notes and scribbles); C.W. Dyson Perrins (bookplate, sale Sotheby's 18 June 1946, lot 221, £520 to H. Davis).
FIRST EDITION IN ITALIAN, ILLUMINATED BY THE MASTER OF THE PICO PLINY.Named by Lilian Armstrong for his work in a manuscript of Pliny written in 1481 for the humanist Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, the artist illuminated other Venetian printed books and manuscripts dating from 1469 to 1494, often for notable patrons such as Pico, and the great financier Peter Ugelheimer. The two books known to have been illuminated for Pico were printed by Nicolas Jenson, the printer of the present 1476 Pliny, with whom Ugelheimer too was closely connected. The artist's involvement with printed books extended to designing woodcuts, since Armstrong has identified him with the artist responsible for at least four architectural borders previously attributed to the 'Popular Designer'. The illumination in the present volume shows the characteristics of the Master of the Pico Pliny in the columns, potted topiaries, horses, strings of beads, and illusionistic page, treated as if curling back to reveal the scene below. The first 13 historiated initials, which illustrate heroes of antiquity, are also his work; they appear to derive from a 14th-century fresco cycle in the 'Sala virorum illustrium' in the Carrara palace in Padua. The remaining initials are by another contemporary Venetian illuminator, who also decorated other copies of this edition (cf. Christie's New York, 17 April 2000, lot 98). (See Lilian Armstrong, 'Il Maestro di Pico: un miniatore veneto del tardo quattrocento' Saggi e memorie di storia dell'arte, XVII, 1990, pp. 7-39, in which Armstrong includes the present copy, known from the Dyson Perrins catalogue, in her discussion of the artist; L. Armstrong, 'Copie di miniature del Libro degli Uomini Famosi, Poiano 1476, di Francesco Petrarca, e il ciclo perduto di affreschi nella reggia carrarese di Padova', La miniatura a Padova dal medioevo al settecento, ed. Giordana Canova Mariani, Modena: 1999, pp.513-522; The Painted Page, nos. 70, 99, 102-03.)
A large copy with pinholes frequently visible at lower corner. Sheet 42/3.6 variant with heading of chapter XX on 42/3r reading 'Ematite et schisto'. H *13105; BMC V, 176 (IC. 19693-4); CIBN P-469; IGI 7893; Klebs 787.1; Goff P-801.