230 ff, bound in the Second Empire red morocco, the boards decorated in cold with compartments of rosettes and various motifs in the Venetian style, lining in green morocco with partial repetition of the same decoration but gilt, spine with cold decorated nerves, edges gilt (Chambolle-Duru).
First edition and first printing of ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL ILLUSTRATED BOOKS OF ALL TIME. It is also one of the most mysterious texts of the Renaissance. With a Latin title, the work is printed in dialectal Italian interspersed with quotations in Greek and Latin, but also in Hebrew and Arabic.
This amphigoric novel is the account by a monk, Poliphilus, of a journey of initiation in pursuit of his beloved, Polia.
Through a succession of singular events, she keeps evading him. Without knowing that he is dreaming, he describes in detail what he sees in his wanderings: beautiful vestiges of antiquity, temples and palaces, decorations, epigraphic inscriptions, but also marvellous gardens, improbable machines, fabulous beings, fauna, nymphs, gods and goddesses. The enigma hunters will probably never come to the end of all the symbols and all the allegories contained in the book, the author seeming to have sometimes lost himself in the meanders of his relation. A French translation published in 1546 with the regraved woodwork had a definite influence on taste in various fields: gardens, decoration, architecture
ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-TWO WOODCUT FIGURES ILLUSTRATE THE STORY. All of them, of a surprising beauty, have remained anonymous to this day. The letter B at the foot of one of them has led to a hazardous attribution to Benedetto Bordone (after having been attributed to Mantegna and Giovanni Bellini). - Reproduction opposite. The name of the author Francesco Colonna himself, always presumed, was found by chance by putting one after the other the thirty-eight large initials which are at the head of each chapter: "Poliam frater Francesco Columna peramavit". But this attribution is questioned.
A masterpiece of Venetian typography, the volume stands out for its novelty thanks to an elegant Roman typeface developed in
developed in Venice by Nicolas Jenson. It is said to be the first Western book to contain Arabic characters. Aldus, the printer, plays
Aldus, the printer, plays creatively with typography, creating a kind of calligraphy with fragments of text that appear in the form of coats of arms, vases and chalices. The layout is particularly harmonious from one end to the other.
MAGNIFICENT EXAMPLE, having belonged to Hector de Backer, one of the most brilliant bibliophiles of the twentieth century, former
president of the Royal Society of Bibliophiles and Iconophiles of Belgium. Catalogue, II, 1927, n° 2977. Very pure, with large margins, the copy is complete with the errata leaf, perfect, which is often missing or leaves something to be desired, the rarity of which was already noted by Charles Nodier in the novel Franciscus Columna (1844). The engraving of the sacrifice to Priape, often scratched, is here intact.