[Blue paper]. Ariosto, Ludovico (1474-1533). Orlando furioso...Venice, Gabriele Giolito de’ Ferrari, 1546. [together with:] Dolce, Lodovico. L’Espositione...Venice, Gabriele Giolito de' Ferrari, 1547.

[Blue paper]. Ariosto, Ludovico (1474-1533). Orlando furioso...Venice, Gabriele Giolito de’ Ferrari, 1546. [together with:] Dolce, Lodovico. L’Espositione...Venice, Gabriele Giolito de' Ferrari, 1547.

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Ariosto, Ludovico (1474-1533).

Orlando furioso... nouißimamente alla sua integrita ridotto & ornato di varie figure. Con alcune stanze del S. Aluigi Gonzaga in lode del medesimo. Aggiuntoui per ciascun Canto alcune allegorie, & nel fine una breue espositione et tauola di tutto quello che nell’opera si contiene... Venice, Gabriele Giolito de’ Ferrari, 1546. [together with:]

Dolce, Lodovico (1508-1568). L’Espositione di tutti i vocaboli, et luoghi difficili, che nel Libro si trouano; Con una brieue Dimostratione di molte comparationi & sentenze dell’Ariosto in diuersi auttori imitate. Raccolte da M. Lodouico Dolce.... Venice, Gabriele Giolito de' Ferrari, 1547.

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Orlando printed on blue paper

Ariosto, Ludovico (1474-1533).

Orlando furioso... nouißimamente alla sua integrita ridotto & ornato di varie figure. Con alcune stanze del S. Aluigi Gonzaga in lode del medesimo. Aggiuntoui per ciascun Canto alcune allegorie, & nel fine una breue espositione et tauola di tutto quello che nell’opera si contiene... Venice, Gabriele Giolito de’ Ferrari, 1546. [together with:]

Dolce, Lodovico (1508-1568).

L’Espositione di tutti i vocaboli, et luoghi difficili, che nel Libro si trouano; Con una brieue Dimostratione di molte comparationi & sentenze dell’Ariosto in diuersi auttori imitate. Raccolte da M. Lodouico Dolce.... Venice, Gabriele Giolito de' Ferrari, 1547.

Two parts in one volume, 4° (215x149 mm). Printed on blue paper. Collation: A-Z8, AA-KK8; *8,**8, ***8, ****6. 264; [30] leaves. The second part bearing on its separate title-page the imprint date '1547'. Roman and italic type, the cantos printed in two columns. The first title-page within an elaborate architectural border containing Giolito's phoenix device; imprint set in type in a cartouche in the lower part of the border; in the second part different printer's devices on the title-page, and at the end. Medallion portrait of Ariosto on fol. *8v. Forty-six woodcuts (ca. 47x87 mm), one at the beginning of each canto. The argumenti within a woodcut border. Woodcut historiated initials in two different sizes. Seventeenth-century Italian limp vellum, gilt tooled (probably a remboîtage). Covers framed within double fillets, small floral tool at each inner corner. At the centre, large gilt coat of arms of an unidentified bishop. Traces of ties. Spine with three raised bands, emphasized by gilt fillets. On the first and last compartments the early inked shelfmark 'K V 2'. A good copy, light foxing. A few spots on the title-page, the verso of the last leaf somewhat soiled. Fols. A4v and A5r lightly discoloured. Wormholes repaired to the lower margin of the last quires. Minor loss to the outer upper corner of fol. HH2. Small early ink stains, the upper margin of some leaves lightly trimmed. A few early marginal annotations and reading marks.

Provenance: early seventeenth-century ownership inscriptions on the verso of fol. *2, 'Jo. Pompilio mano propria', repeated twice, and 'Io Domenico [?]'.

The rare Giolito 1546 quarto edition of Orlando, in an extraordinary copy printed on blue paper: one of the finest illustrated books produced in the Italian Cinquecento.

Gabriele Giolito de' Ferrari printed his first Furioso in 1542, a publication which goes far beyond previous editions by other printers: for the first time the text of the poem is supplemented with commentary, and each canto is introduced by a woodcut vignette, as well as an argomento. The success of this innovative publication was immediate and unprecedented, and the Furioso became the 'symbol' of the printing house itself. From 1542 onwards the poem was constantly re-issued, both in quarto and, as of 1543, in the cheaper and more popular octavo format, thus proclaiming Giolito's success as a printer and businessman, and transforming the Furioso into a 'classic' of modern literature.

The 1546 edition opens – like that of 1542 – with Giolito's dedicatory epistle to Henri II de Valois, then Dauphin de France, who had married Catherine de' Medici in 1533. The text was edited by the Venetian Lodovico Dolce (1508-1568), one of the closest collaborators of the Venetian house, and was additionally supplemented by his Espositione di tutti i vocaboli et luoghi difficili, che nel Libro si trovano, which soon became the most frequently reprinted commentary to the Furioso. Furthermore, in the edition of 1546, Giolito includes – in response to the Cinque Canti first published in 1545 by the rival Aldine printing house – his 'novelty', i.e., eighty-four stanzas dealing with the history of Italy, which he had in turn obtained from Ariosto's son Virginio.

Another remarkable aspect of the Giolito Furioso is the illustrative apparatus that accompanied the cantos: forty-six woodcuts comprising a cycle whose stylistic quality, refined design, and abundance of detail represents a significant step in the illustration of the poem. Each vignette shows multiple scenes pertaining to the canto at hand, thereby visually capturing the multifarious and ever-changing narrative structure of the poem. The various episodes diminish in size in the receding planes of the woodcut, and are thus conceived as separate but simultaneous actions: the majority of the vignettes depict two or three scenes from the related canto, although two woodcuts each include four episodes, and one – the vignette for Canto XLI with a surface area of only 47x87 mm – presents an incredible five scenes simultaneously.

In 1541 the Venetian Senate had granted a ten-year privilege for the woodblocks or 'intagli novi' of the Furioso, giving Giolito the exclusive right for using this illustrative apparatus. They were then re-used, with a few changes, in numerous subsequent editions issued by the Venetian printer until the quarto edition of 1559. The identity of the skilled artist or artists responsible for designing and cutting the vignettes that introduce each canto of the Furioso remains unknown; recently the name of the Bolognese painter Jacopo Francia (1484-1557) has been put forth, while a once -plausible attribution to Giorgio Vasari is now generally refused.

The 1546 Giolitina is further enriched by a woodcut medallion portrait of Ariosto taken from a block first used for the Furioso of 1542, and accompanied here by a sonnet. The source is the profile portrait introduced by Niccolò Zoppino in his famous Furioso of 1530, and ultimately derived from Titian. The artist employed by Giolito re-interpreted this earlier portrait, transforming it into a classical bust of Ariosto dressed in a toga and crowned with a laurel wreath. This new iconography was an immediate success and was readily imitated by other printers.

Surviving Giolitine on blue paper are quite rare. An edition in carta turchina of the 1554 Furioso was sold in the Pinelli sale for 25 francs, and Angela Nuovo records copies on blue paper of the Giolito Furioso of 1543, 1544, 1549, 1551, and 1554. In this copy the Furioso of 1546 is supplemented by Dolce's Espositione from the reprint of 1547. Copies of the Furioso of 1546 and 1547 printed on blue paper are unrecorded. As previously stated, Giolito continued to re-issue his Furioso, often changing the dates on the title-pages during printing in order to re-present unsold copies back on the market, or inserting quires from other issues. The interior composition of this volume may therefore testify to hectic phases in the production and 'packaging' of a copy on blue paper commissioned by a rich but impatient customer, as well as the aim to supplement the text of the poem with a 'new' version of the Espositione, which – as claimed on the its title-page, dated 1547 – is now corrected and enlarged.

Bongi Annali, pp. 126, 144; Agnelli–Ravegnani, p. 76; D. Javitch, “Gabriele Giolito 'packaging' of Ariosto, Boccaccio and Petrarca in Mid-Cinquecento”, F. Fido - R. A. Syska-Lamparska - P. D. Stewart (eds.), Studies for Dante. Essays in Honor of Dante Della Terza, Fiesole 1998, pp. 123-133; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 106.

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