Dante Alighieri

Comedia di Danthe Alighieri poeta divino con l’espositione di Christoforo Landino.

Venice, Jacopo da Borgofranco for Lucantonio Giunta, 23 January 1529.

Folio (304 × 210 mm). Collation: AA-BB6, a-z8, &8, cum8, rum8, A-L8. [12], ccxcv, [1] leaves. Roman and gothic type. Text of the Commedia surrounded by the commentary. Title-page printed in red and black within woodcut architectural border, the side-pieces containing the portraits of the five great Latin poets (Virgilius, Horatius, Ovidius, Lucretius, and Terentius) on the left and the five Italian poets on the right (Dante, Petrarca, Pietro Aretino, Boccaccio, and Bernardo Accolti, known as Unico Aretino); the lower panel shows the nine Muses, each playing a different musical instrument, and Giunta's device, printed in red. On the verso of the title-page full-page woodcut portrait of Dante; one full-page woodcut on fol. BB6v, framed by the same border used for the title page (but with the Latin poets on the opposite panel), introducing the first cantica; nine-ninety woodcuts in text; numerous woodcut decorated initials, some on 12 lines. Eighteenth-century vellum over pasteboards. Smooth spine, gilt title on dark brown morocco lettering-piece. At the extremities the date ‘1529'. Edges speckled red. Some wear at the spine. On the verso of the rear flyleaf ‘Comedia di dante reformata, cum commentarius Landini et Alexandri Velluteli ao. 1529 edita Venetiis', in a contemporary hand. Underlinings, maniculae, and marginal notes in the leaves containing the first eight cantos of the Inferno.

Provenance: the Dutch bibliophile Paul Teerharius (d. 1667; his ownership inscription on the title-page ‘Pauli Teihaarij Patauij in Italia Ao 1653'; see Catalogus Variorum Exquisitissimorum Librorum, Pauli Terharii, Amsterdam 1667, Libri Miscellanei in Folio, no. 98); the New York banker and investor Henry William Poor (1844-1915), his firm was the predecessor to Standard & Poor's (red morocco ex-libris on front pastedown; see Catalogue of the library of Henry W. Poor, New York, Anderson Galleries, 1908); Giuseppe Martini (with his lenghty bibliographical notes on the first front flyleaf, and a census of the copies known at his time); Livio Ambrogio collection.

The first Commedis in print to contain a portrait of Dante. The volume, whose folio-size recalls the fifteenth-century tradition, was printed by Jacopo Pocatela da Borgofranco (Pavia), who in Venice mostly worked for other publishers, such as Lucantonio Giunta and the heirs of Ottaviano Scoto. The text follows faithfully the 1502 Aldine, and is accompanied by Landino's commentary. The handsome woodcuts are repeated from the Venetian Commedia of 1491. The edition is highly praised for two decorative features which appear here for the first and only time: the elaborate woodcut border on the title-page, and the fine full-page portrait of Dante in profile, wearing the laurel crown. The iconography is similar to the woodcut appeared in 1521 on the title-page of the Convivio, but also reveals similarities with the famous Dante portrait painted by Sandro Botticelli, and now in a private collection.