De architectura libri decem, cum commentariis … multis aedificiorum, horologiorum, et machinarum descriptionibus, & figuris, una cum indicibus copiosis, auctis & illustratis.

Venice, Francesco Franceschi & Johann Criegher, 1567.

Folio, pp. [19], [1 (blank)], 375, [1]; woodcut ‘Pax’ device to title and final leaf, full-page architectural woodcut to title verso, woodcut initials and 135 woodcut illustrations (including 2 repeats) in text, of which several full-page, double-page, or folded at fore-edge; damp-stain to margins of early leaves, light foxing and dust-staining to title, occasional spots; a very good copy in contemporary Italian limp vellum, later manuscript lettering to spine, sewn on 3 sunken cords; light dust-staining, spine subtly repaired, pastedowns renewed; early ink shelfmark ‘L.x.44.’ to front free endpaper, later inscribed by the architect George Adam Burn (1817–1886), February 18 1834, and by Alfred S. Ellis, 28 April 1877, with an early twentieth-century inscription.


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First Latin edition of Barbaro’s influential commentary, written in collaboration with and finely illustrated by Palladio; ‘the culmination of the Renaissance tradition of Vitruvian studies’ (Cellauri, p. 57 trans.) which ‘served as a foundational text into the next century, as well as marking the culmination of more than a century of intense scrutiny and application of Vitruvius by other architects and editors – possibly for almost two decades by Palladio’ (D’Evelyn, p. 25).

‘Although several editions of Vitruvius had been published earlier in the century, most notably Fra Giovanni Giocondo’s pioneering and scholarly illustrated Latin edition (Venice, 1511) and Cesare di Lorenzo Cesariano’s more imaginatively illustrated Italian translation (Como, 1521), the work remained confusing and difficult. Barbaro’s edition, with its learned commentary, was the most accurate translation and, with its informative illustrations, the most intelligible version yet produced. Barbaro acknowledged the importance of Palladio’s collaboration, not only as a draughtsman but also for his archaeological and theoretical expertise. Barbaro’s commentary is aptly called a treatise within a treatise, coherently explaining many of the more technical passages, and expanding from an Aristotelian standpoint on many philosophical issues concerning the relationship between architecture and nature.’ (Grove).

‘Palladio gave Barbaro substantial help with the textual interpretations and commentary, having studied Vitruvius since the 1530s with the humanist Giangiorgio Trissino and also independently. Discussions of Vitruvius with intellectual friends, and making reconstruction drawings from Vitruvius independently and then for Barbaro’s Commentaries – guided by Sangallo’s reconstruction drawings – may have been the deeply formative experiences that helped Palladio construct the Quattro libri of 1570 on his own principles of lucidity, sprezzatura, and the well-synthesized text and image.’ (D’Evelyn, p. 24).

The commentary first appeared in Italian, accompanying Barbaro’s translation of Vitruvius’s text published by Marcolini in folio in 1556, and was reprinted by Franceschi and Chrieger in quarto in the same year as this first Latin edition. Barbaro credits Palladio’s contributions, including for ‘“i disegni delle figure importanti”’, which Cellauro identifies as seventy of the seventy-four illustrations in the first six books on the grounds of stylistic similarities to the Quattro libri (Cellauro, p. 58). The illustrations of the 1567 editions, though largely copied from the 1556 designs, were revised by Palladio and recut by Giovanni Chrieger (Johannes Krüger) with additions and alterations in a style closer to Palladio’s Quattro libri, published only three years later. In addition to the woodcuts shared with the Italian quarto, the present edition borrows three from the Marcolini edition and contains fourteen entirely new subjects, including the full-page woodcut view of Venice from above, cut by Chrieger after Paolo Forlani, accompanying De portubus et structuris in aqua faciendis (V, xii).

USTC 863690; EDIT16 48319; Adams V909; Mortimer 550. Cf. Cellauro, ‘Palladio e le illustrazioni delle edizioni del 1556 e del 1567 di Vitruvio’ in Saggi e memorie di storia dell’arte 22 (1998), pp. 55-128; Cellauro, ‘Daniele Barbaro and Vitruvius: The Architectural Theory of a Renaissance Humanist and Patron’ in Papers of the British School at Rome 72 (2004), pp. 293-329; and D’Evelyn, Venice & Vitruvius: Reading Venice with Daniele Barbaro and Andrea Palladio (2012).

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