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    1544 Vellutello Edition with Eighty-Seven Woodcuts, the Most Important Illustrated Edition of Dante of the Sixteenth Century

    [Dante Alighieri]. [The Divine Comedy]. La Comedia di Dante Aligieri con la Nova Espositione di Allesandro Vellutello. [Edited and with commentary by Alessandro Vellutello]. [Venice: Francesco Marcolini for Alessandro Vellutello, June 1544].

    First Vellutello edition, and the first use of this influential series of woodcuts. Small quarto in eights (8.5 x 5.75 inches; 215 x 145 mm.). Complete (AA-BB8, CC10, A-Z8, AB-AZ8, BC-BI8). Italic type, with roman type for titles, headings, and headlines. Text surrounded by commentary. Capital spaces with guide letters. With eighty-seven woodcut illustrations, including three full-page woodcuts opposite the first page of Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven, respectively, and two repeats. Marginal diagrams. With the extra text from Canto II of the "Purgatorio" stamped at the foot of V7 recto.

    Later calf spine over tan paper boards. Spine decoratively ruled and lettered in gilt with four raised bands. Silk ribbon marker. Moderate wear and abrading to the binding, especially the board edges and front board. Top edge trimmed. Three small dampstains to the title leaf and second leaf. Scattered minor foxing, staining, and thumb-soiling throughout, mostly to margins. Small portion of top corner of title renewed. Minor paper repair to fore-edge margin of BH6-BI1, affecting just a couple of letters per leaf. BI8 and rear free endpaper with paper reinforcement along the gutters. Tiny hole to fore-edge margin of BI2, affecting just a few letters. Small blue "X" to fore-edge margin of N8. A very good copy.

    "While the fifteenth-century blocks could serve as a quick reference for figures in the text, these 1544 blocks are an extension of the commentary, a more instructive form of illustration" (Harvard, Italian, 146). The woodcuts reappeared in the Sessa brothers's editions of 1564, 1578, and 1596, and seventy-nine of the original eighty-five block were used in Palazzi's Compendio della Comedia di Dante Alighieri (Venice: Albrizzi), and were also widely copied.

    "Alessandro Vellutello (dates of birth and death unknown) published his commentary to the Commedia in 1544. Printed by Francesco Marcolini and dedicated to Pope Paul III, the commentary contains some of the most beautiful illustrations to the poem of the Renaissance" (Richard H. Lansing, The Dante Encyclopedia, page 850).

    Adams D94. Fiske I, page 8. Sander 2328.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    October, 2010
    14th-16th Thursday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 3
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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