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    "First Woman in the Western World Who Can
    Accurately Be Called a Mathematician"

    Maria Gaetana Agnesi. Instituzioni Analitiche Ad Uso Della Gioventu' Italiana. Milan: Nella Regia-Ducal Corte. Con Licenza de' Superiori, 1748. First Edition. One work in two quarto volumes. 428, (35 folding plates); 431-1020, (24 folding plates) pages. Two folding tables, errata leaf in each volume. Engraved title pages. Bound in half mottled calf over similarly patterned paper covered boards. Rebacked. Gilt lettering on red and green spine labels. Small number 8 labels on spines. Bindings rubbed and scuffed, with some soiling and small chips. Ink stamp on front free endpapers. Both books with a small institutional stamp and a partially removed stamp on margin of title page. Textblock edges foxed. Pages with few minor spots of foxing or soiling. Plates in first volume with a faint dampstain in the lower margin, not affecting imprint areas; otherwise plates and text quite clean and fresh. Very good.

    More Information:

    "Maria Gaetana Agnesi (1718-1799) was the first woman in the western world who can accurately be called a mathematician. A decade of concentrated thought bore fruit in 1748 with the publication of her Istituzioni analitiche ad uso della gioventu italiana, which she dedicated to Empress Maria Theresa of Austria. This book won immediate acclaim in academic circles all over Europe and brought recognition as a mathematician to Agnesi. The Istituzioni analitiche consisted of two huge quarto volumes containing more than a thousand pages. Its author's objective was to give a complete, integrated, comprehensible treatment of algebra and analysis, with emphasis on concepts that were new (or relatively so) in the mid-eighteenth century. In this connection one must realize that Newton was still alive when Agnesi was born, so that the development of the differential and integral calculus was in progress during her lifetime. With the gioventu (youth) in mind, she wrote in Italian rather than in Latin and covered the range from elementary algebra to the classical theory of equations, to coordinate geometry, and then on to differential calculus, integral calculus, infinite series (to the extent that these were known in her day) and finally to the solution of elementary differential equations. She treated finite processes in the first volume and infinitesimal analysis in the second. the tributes to the excellence in Agnesi's treatise were so numerous that it is impossible to list them all, but that related to the French translation of the work will be notes. The French translation (of the second volume only) was authorized by the French Academy of Science. In 1749 an academy committee recorded its opinion: 'This work is characterized by its careful organization, its clarity, and its precision. There is no other book, in any language, which would enable a reader to penetrate as deeply, or as rapidly, into the fundamental concepts of analysis. We consider this treatise the most complete and best written work of its kind.' The recognition of greatest significance to Agnesi was provided in two letters from Pope Benedict XIV. The first, dated June 1749, a congratulatory note on the occasion of the publication of her book, was accompanied by a gold medal and a gold wreath adorned with precious stones. In his second letter, dated September 1750, the pope appointed her to the chair of mathematics and natural philosophy at Bologna. But Agnesi, always retiring, never actually taught at the University of Bologna. She accepted her position as an honorary one from 1750 to 1752, when her father was ill. After his death in 1752 she gradually withdrew from all scientific activity." (DSB Vol. 1 pp. 75-77)

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    Auction Dates
    April, 2016
    6th Wednesday
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