18 December 2002
THOMAS AQUINAS (Saint, 1225-1274). De ente et essentia. Ed. Ludovicus Regius. Venice: Johannes Lucilius Santritter and Hieronymus de Sanctis, for Franciscus Bolanus, 1488.
4o (206 x 152 mm). Collation: A-C8 D6. 30 leaves. 36 lines. Gothic type 5:82. Woodcut of a man kindling grass by means of a magnifying glass on B2, woodcut initials. (First three leaves with small marginal wormtracks, some minor marginal staining and soiling.) Later vellum. Provenance: some contemporary marginalia (partially shaved); Albert Cameron Burrage (MHS presentation bookplate).
A RARE EDITION, ONE OF ONLY THREE BOOKS ISSUED BY THE PRESS OPERATED JOINTLY BY SANTRITTER AND DE SANCTIS. Aquinas's De Ente et Essentia (Of Being and Essence) is an early work, before the granting of his licentia docendi at Paris in 1256. It is nevertheless considered vital for the understanding of Thomist doctrine: its important distinction between Essence and Existence is seen by some commentators as the only road of entry to Aquinas's metaphysics.
Arthur M. Hind mentions the woodcut in relation to other Sanritter cuts: "As Santritter was a man of learning in astronomy and astrology, I should infer as certain that he designed the technical diagrams [for Ratdolt's 1482 edition of Johonnes de Sacro Busto's Sphaera mundi], but should regard it as highly improbable that he drew the allegorical frontispiece" (Hind, An Introduction to the History of Woodcut, vol. II, p.463). Concluding that De Sanctis too was not the cutter, he concludes that the woodcut is the work of an anonymous artist but quotes Kristeller as grouping the woodcut with the woodcut present in this edition of Thomas's De ente et essentia. A very scarce edition: only two other copies are recorded in America (LC(R), HEHL).
BMC V 462; CIBN T-199; Essling 447; HC 1502*; Pr 5182; Sander 7284; Goff T288.
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