Remembering Lucrezia Borgia: The dedication letter of Pietro Bembo to Lucrezia Borgia

 
Battista Dossi (attributed to) (active 1517-1548).  Lucrezia Borgia, Duchess of Ferrara  (1519-1530). Oil on wood panel. National Gallery of Victoria [Public domain]

Battista Dossi (attributed to) (active 1517-1548). Lucrezia Borgia, Duchess of Ferrara (1519-1530). Oil on wood panel. National Gallery of Victoria [Public domain]

500 years ago yesterday, on 24 June 1519, Lucrezia Borgia died at the age of 39 while giving birth. She was the daughter of Pope Alexander VI and a member of the Spanish-Italian noble family of the Borgia (or Borja). A controversial and almost mythical figure, she married Duke Alfonso I d’Este and arrived in Ferrara in 1502. Part of her possibly undeserved (but well rehearsed) reputation as “dark lady” is probably due to the association with her family and in particular with her brother, the bloody condottiere Cesare Borgia, one of the key figures of the early 16th-century Italian political scene and one of the main characters in Machiavelli’s The Prince.

At PRPH Books we are pleased to offer the first edition of Pietro Bembo’s love dialogue Gli Asolani, in the rare first issue with Bembo’s dedication to Lucrezia Borgia dated Venice, 1 August 1504. During a sojourn in Ferrara, Bembo had fallen in love with Lucrezia Borgia. For unknown reasons the dedication was almost immediately suppressed by decision of the author and the editor and the two pages left blank. The dedication is present in only about one third of the surviving copies.

See the full description here.

 
 
 
Bembo, Pietro (1470-1547).   Gli Asolani di Messer Pietro Bembo.  Venice, Aldo Manuzio, March 1505.

Bembo, Pietro (1470-1547). Gli Asolani di Messer Pietro Bembo. Venice, Aldo Manuzio, March 1505.

 
Fabrizio Govi