Boccaccio, Giovanni (1313-1375). Il Decamerone... Venice, Vincenzo Valgrisi and Baldassare Costantini, 1557

Boccaccio, Giovanni (1313-1375). Il Decamerone... Venice, Vincenzo Valgrisi and Baldassare Costantini, 1557

9,500.00

Boccaccio, Giovanni (1313-1375).

Il Decamerone... alla sua intera perfettione ridotto, et con dichiarationi et auuertimenti illustrato, per Girolamo Ruscelli.... 

Venice, Vincenzo Valgrisi and Baldassare Costantini, 1557.

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The device of three interlaced crescents

Boccaccio, Giovanni (1313-1375).

Il Decamerone... alla sua intera perfettione ridotto, et con dichiarationi et auuertimenti illustrato, per Girolamo Ruscelli.... Venice, Vincenzo Valgrisi and Baldassare Costantini, 1557

Two parts in one volume, 4° (219x167 mm). Collation: *4, A-Z8, AA-II8; a-g4 (fol. HH2 signed H2). [8], 496, [16]; [56] pages. Roman and italic type. Valgrisi's serpent device on both title-pages, and at the end. Each giornata introduced by a large woodcut (fols. A5v, D2v, H5v, L8v, O8v, R8v, T5v, Y2r, BB7r, DD6v). Numerous woodcut animated initials. Contemporary French calf, over pasteboards. Covers within double frame of multiple blind fillets, the inner frame with gilt fleurons at outer corners. Device of three interlaced crescents tooled in gilt at centre. Traces of ties. Spine with five raised bands, compartments tooled with a single floral tool, title and the number 'XIII' lettered in gilt. Edges gilt. Minor wear at the head of the spine. A very fine copy, slightly browned on the first leaves, a few paper flaws, minor foxing, some fingermarks.

The third and revised Valgrisi edition of Boccaccio's masterpiece, lavishly illustrated, and edited for the Venetian printing house by Girolamo Ruscelli (ca. 1518-1566). The first Decameron from the press of Valgrisi – the famous printer of French origin, active in Venice from 1540 'all'insegna d'Erasmo' – had appeared in 1552, and was intended to rival the successful Giolito editions. The work is supplemented by Ruscelli's Vocabolario generale di tutte le voci usate dal Boccaccio, while the preliminary leaves contain, as an introduction, La vita di messer Giouan Boccaccio, written by Francesco Sansovino (1521-1586). The Valgrisi Decameron is one the finest editions of Boccaccio's work produced in the sixteenth century and is rightly famous for its handsome full-page illustrations introducing each giornata, all newly designed and mentioned – as “figure nuoue & bellissime” – on the title-page. Each woodcut is framed within an architectural border including putti, grotesque figures, antique vases, and floral motifs, and depict scenes from the life at the villa of the brigata of young men and women who had fled from Florence during the plague. The success of the publication was immediate, and Valgrisi re-issued Boccaccio's work in 1554, 1555, and 1557, thereby establishing a new iconography of the Decameron in print. The blocks and borders were later re-used by other Venetian printers, including Agostino Zoppino, Onofrio Farri, and Alessandro Vecchi.

The Valgrisi Decameron presented here is in a fine contemporary French binding. The covers bear at the centre the device of three interlaced crescents, a feature which might suggest the binding was executed for Diane de Poitiers (1499-1566), mistress of King Henry II of France and from 1548 duchess of Valentinois, who used the triple-crescent device. The exquisite library assembled by this femme bibliophile remained in her Château d'Anet until its sale in 1724. For a similar binding on a copy of Cardanus's De subtilitate (1561) see The Michel Wittock Collection. Part I: Important Renaissance Bookbindings, lot 30. It is noticeable that the crescents also appear on bindings from the King's own library.

G. H. Bushnell, 'Diane de Poitiers and Her Books', The Library, 4 (1926-1927), pp. 283-302; J. Porcher, 'Les livres de Diane de Poitiers', Les Trésors des Bibliothèque de France, 26 (1942), pp. 78-89; The Michel Wittock Collection. Part I: Important Renaissance Bookbindings London 2004, lot 30; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 121.

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