PLATO (427?-347 B.C.). Opera Omnia, in Greek. Edited by Marcus Musurus (c.1470-1517). -Timaeus Locrus, in Greek [Hellenistic paraphrase of the Timaeus in Doric dialect]. - DIOGENES Laertius (1st half of the 3rd century A.D.). Vita Platonis, in Greek. Venice: Aldus Manutius and Andreas Torresanus, September 1513.
2 parts in one volume, super-chancery 2° (300 x 192mm). Collation and contents as Christie's, 3 May 1995, lot 58. 268 and 220 leaves, with both blanks, 2/4 and ii4. Greek type 3bis: 90, roman 12:90. 48 lines and headline, paginated. Aldine device (Fletcher no. f4) on first and last pages, ruled in red. (Small holes affecting a few characters in final two leaves repaired.) PARISIAN GOLD-TOOLED CALF OF C.1566, BY CLAUDE DE PICQUES FOR JACQUES MALENFANT, the sides with gilt fillets forming a narrow border painted black, hatched arabesque corner-pieces, central hatched cartouche containing the Malenfant arms [Olivier 1000] surrounded by a shaped compartment formed by gouges and containing small hatched tools, gilt edges (rebacked for the Duke of Grafton with his cypher in one of the compartments, endpapers, a few expert restorations). Provenance: Jacques Malenfant; Alan Fitzroy, 3rd Duke of Grafton (title signature dated 1776, cypher on spine, sale Evans 6 June 1815, lot 138, £6.10 to Payne); Thomas Gaisford (1799-1855, dean of Christ Church, Oxford, bookplate, sale 13 May 1880); Clifford Rattey (bookplate).
EDITIO PRINCEPS. An important association copy bound for Jacques Malenfant by Claude de Picques. Malenfant, seigneur de Preyssac, almoner of Marguerite d'Angouleme, Queen of Navarre, was sent by her to Paris in 1546 to continue his studies there. His intimacy with Greek humanist circles at Paris is evident in his Latin poem written on the death of Adrien Turnèbe, professor of Greek at the Collège de France and royal printer of Greek (published in Roilet's In tristissimum Adriani Turnebi morbum Academiae prosopopoeia, 1565). Malenfant incorporated a Greek motto (NW KAI MH KATW in his arms block and inscribed several of his books in Greek as well. In 1566 he acquired a group of at least nine books, principally classical works in Greek and Latin, at least four of which were bound for him by Claude de Picques. A Parisian bookseller and binder, Picques is known as bookseller to Cathérine de Medicis by 1557 and succeeded as Royal Binder by 1559. See M. Foot, Henry Davis Gift, I, 156-169. This Plato and a copy of Blondus (Basel: 1531, sold Christie's 3 October 1990, lot 53) may be added to the census published there.
Among the volume's subsequent owners was Thomas Gaisford, classical scholar and dean of Christ Church, Oxford. Gaisford included readings from the Aldine edition in his textual study of Plato's works, published in 1820.
The centrality of Platonic thought to the Renaissance cannot be overstated. Marsilio Ficino translated Plato's works into Latin for Lorenzo de Medici, which was first published at Florence in 1484 and reprinted at Venice in 1491 (see previous lot). Aldus too saw the publication of Plato, now in the original Greek, as one of his most important undertakings. It had been promised as early as 1497 and was still being planned in 1506. Marcus Musurus, working closely with Aldus and apparently using manuscripts belonging to Cardinal Bessarion and others, edited the texts, which were largely 'in a much better state than that of most authors, and therefore did not invite editorial intervention on the same scale' (N.G. Wilson, From Byzantium to Italy, p.151). Aldus dedicated the editio princeps to Giovanni de' Medici, seeking his patronage as Pope (elected earlier that year) and paying tribute to his father's patronage of Ficino's Latin translation. Adams P-1436; Isaac 12828; Renouard 1513.1.