8vo., pp. , 29, , italic letter, title within a woodcut border of renaissance ornament with publisher’s white-on-black dolphin device, same device repeated on verso of last, otherwise blank, leaf; in a contemporary Venetian binding of soft cream-coloured calf sewn on three thongs, gilt panel on sides of repeated impressions of a stamp of a staff and trailing vine leaves, within the panel a flaming vase with rosettes and Aldine leaves above and below, remains of silk ties, traces of MS lettering on spine; some wear and loss of gilding, but an attractive unrestored binding preserving original pastedowns and endleaves; in a cloth case.
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A combined edition of the Ecatomfila and the Deifira, Alberti’s two dialogues on love. They originally appeared separately in 1471, probably the first works of literature by a living author printed in Italian. They treat the vagaries of love from different perspectives. In the Ecatomfila, a woman, expert in matters of love, counsels her youthful listeners on how to secure and keep love. The ideal lover is prudent, modest, and virtuous; above all, he is a man of letters. In the Deifira Filarco counsels Pallimacro, hopelessly in love with Deifira, on the dangers of love and on how the humanist may experience the intensity of love as a young man without abandoning his literary and artistic pursuits.
The emblem of the vase of flames – the symbol of love, carnal and spiritual – occurs on both Italian and French renaissance bindings. Anthony Hobson cites examples of its use in Humanists and Bookbinders, Cambridge, 1989, pp. 165-166. See also two examples in Breslauer, cat. 110, nos. 23 and 25.
Contemporary owner’s initials at foot of title “F.M.S.I.B.”. From the library of L.A. Barbet, sale Paris (Giraud-Badin), part 2 (Oct-Nov. 1932), lot 256. De Marinis (La legatura artistica in Italia), no. 2202.
Sander, no. 148.
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