COUNTERFEIT CELLINI

Vita di Benvenuto Cellini orefice e scultore fiorentino da lui medesimo scritta, nella quale molte curiose particolarità si toccano appartenenti alle Arti, ed all’Istoria del suo tempo tratta da un ottimo manoscritto, e dedicate all’eccellenza di Mylord Riccardo Boyle Conte di Burlington … 

‘Cologne’ [i.e. Florence], ‘Pietro Martello’ [i.e. Bartolini], [1792]. 

4to, pp. xvi, 318, [2 (blank)], bound with two additional folding copper-engraved plates; title printed in red and black, woodcut initials throughout, woodcut ornament to title; an excellent, wide-margined copy in contemporary Italian vellum over boards, spine blind-ruled in compartments, one compartment stained red and lettered directly in gilt, edges decorated in red; some superficial wear to boards; nineteenth-century bibliographical notes in ink to front free endpaper verso, later armorial bookplate of Edward Francis Witts to upper pastedown.

£675

Approximately:
US $871€800

Add to basket Make an enquiry

Added to your basket:
Vita di Benvenuto Cellini orefice e scultore fiorentino da lui medesimo scritta, nella quale molte curiose particolarità si toccano appartenenti alle Arti, ed all’Istoria del suo tempo tratta da un ottimo manoscritto, e dedicate all’eccellenza di Mylord Riccardo Boyle Conte di Burlington … 

Checkout now

The counterfeit edition of Benvenuto Cellini’s seminal autobiography, extra-illustrated with two large engravings illustrating his ‘Perseus and Medusa’ and the ‘Hercules and Cacus’ of his rival sculptor Bandinelli. 

Written in 1557 when Cellini was sentenced to home confinement for charges of sodomy, the resulting manuscript entered the possession of the Cavalcanti family and Francesco Redi (c. 1691), who circulated partial and complete copies until its publication in 1728.  In his Vita, a carefully constructed act of self-fashioning instrumental in altering the Renaissance perception of its author, Cellini attempts to display a public and enduring representation of his artistic prowess and daring feats, including, inter alia, conjuring devils in the Colosseum, confronting the Pope, finding himself divinely enhaloed, and surviving poisoning on two separate occasions.  As the note to the reader declares, these recollections are extremely authentic, having been written in his own hand at a mature age; the authenticity of Cellini’s self-representation, however, must naturally be read in light of Renaissance modes of self-understanding, in which ‘the true and the metaphorical are identical … and will always remain ambiguous, for it stands on the borderline between romance and realism’ (Goldberg, p. 82). 

The fictitious imprint of Pietro Martello (known also in translation as Pierre Marteau, Peter Hammer, &c) was used frequently throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries by the Elzeviers and a host of other printers, largely to protect against censorship; the editions of 1728 and 1792 were in fact printed by Berenstadt at Naples and Bartolini at Florence, respectively.  Though very closely copied from the first edition, the present counterfeit can be distinguished by the pagination of the preliminaries, a variation in the title ornament, a change in the setting of the dedication, and the line-break after ‘toccano’ in the title rather than halfway through ‘appartenenti‘ (see Gamba). 

Brunet I, 1725; Cicognara 2231 (incorrectly attributed to Florence, 1730); Gamba 337; Graesse II, p. 99; see Goldberg, ‘Cellini’s Vita and the Conventions of Early Autobiography’ in MLN 89, no. 1 (1974), pp. 71-83; on Marteau, see Brunet, Imprimeurs imaginaires (1866). 

You may also be interested in...