Postincunable copy of Pliny's Natural History
Historiae naturalis Libri XXXVII ab Alexandro Benedicto ve. physico emendatio res redditi.
Venice: J. Rubeus und B. Vercellensis, 1507.
Hardcover. Folio - over 12 - 15" tall. Very Good. Item #002607
16 January 1507. Folio (295 x 195 mm). , 280 leaves, lacking the final blank only. Signatures: aa-bb8 a-z8 &8 A-L8 M10 (-M10). Printer and date from colophon: ". . .per Ioannem rubeum & Bernardinum fratresque Vercellenses ... 1507. die. xvi. Ianuarii". Numerous 4- to 12-line floral and figurative woodcut initials in text. Early 17th-century vellum over pasteboards, spine neatly lettered and decorated in black ink (boards soiled and rubbed, corners bumped and scuffed), blue-coloured edges. Text with faint waterstain the upper margin, a few occasional brown spots, little browning and soiling to first and final leaves, otherwise quite crisp and clean. Contemporary ink annotations in places, lower blank corner of leaf p1 torn, q4 with small holes affecting a few letters of text, burn hole in blank fore-margin of r3. Provenance: Contemporary ownership inscription to top title page almost entirely faded, printed paper label to pastedown 'Si vende in Verona, presso Michelang. Fumanelli, librajo alle Arche n. 1158, dove si trova un assortimento di Libri Scolastici ed altra sorte a prezzi vantaggiosi'. Beautiful copy. ----
Graesse VI, p.338; NLM/Durling 3686; STC 526; Schweiger II, p. 784. - Beautiful and uncommon edition, edited by Alessandro Benedetti and printed by the Rosso brothers. This edition prepared according to handwritten sources, and with special consideration of Dioscorides and Hermolus Barbarus, the more important as edited by Alexander Benedictus, a physician who rendered outstanding services to the science of medicine (cf. Choulant, Handb. p.189).
In his great encyclopaedia, the Historia naturalis, being the first comprehensive examination of the natural sciences and the arts, Pliny set forth by his own count 20,000 facts compiled from 2,000 different works, all of which he scrupulously cited in his remarkably thorough indices. The 36 books of this vast compilation, the only extant work of more than 100 said to have been composed by Pliny, cover cosmology, mathematics, geography, medicine, zoology, agriculture, botany, history, philosophy, anthropology, mineralogy, and the arts and literature. When Pliny died at the age of 56 while observing the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, the work was still unfinished. The importance of the Historia naturalis for the study of ancient art has somewhat been overshadowed by its renown as the first encyclopaedia of natural history. In fact, the Historia remains a principal source of information on the development of sculpture and painting and the techniques of metalworking and silversmithing in antiquity, topics covered in the last four books. Together with Vitruvius' De architectura, Pliny's work is one of few extant testimonies to the flowering of art criticism and art historical study in the Roman period.
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