Item #1141 Orlando Furioso. Lodovico Ariosto.
Orlando Furioso.
Orlando Furioso.
Orlando Furioso.
Orlando Furioso.
Recognized as a Classic of 18th Century Venetian Book Illustration

Orlando Furioso.

In Venezia: Antonio Zatta, 1772-73. Item #1141

4 volumes.  4to.  265 x 195 mm., [10 ½ x 7 ½ inches]. I: [2] ff, LX pp., [162 ff].  II: [228] ff.  III: [223] ff.  IV [260] ff.    Illustrated with numerous copper engravings, mostly after Pietro Antonio Novelli, comprising 58 full-page engravings including frontispiece, author's portrait, and 6 engravings of Ariosto relics, tailpieces, borders, and illustrative initials; engraved by Tomaso Baratti, Giuseppe Danioto, F. Fanbrini, Jacopo Leonardis, Giacomo Malosso, G. Zuliani and others.  Bound in full contemporary vellum, title in gilt on spine, edges sprinkled red and blue ink; endpapers and preliminary leaves with some light foxing, vellum light soiled with age.  A very good, unsophisticated set in contemporary vellum. With the bookplate of Eugenio Scalfari and the bookseller’s label Il Polifilo.

 Highly regarded edition, with a sixty page “Vita” of Ariosto by Giovanni Andrea Barotti in volume one and “I cinque canti” (five poems) of Ariosto at the end of volume four.  Volume four also contains Orazio Toscanella’s “Osservazione” on the text of Ariosto; Giambattista Pigna’s notes on the changes in the text as Ariosto made revisions ;and finally, a synopsis of each canto by Girolamo Ruscelli.  The work ends with a detailed index referring to characters and events from the text. 

This is also an important illustrated edition of Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso, with engravings by Pietro Antonio Novelli and a score of artists and engravers, who represent a veritable who’s who in the Venetian art world of the period.  Both Brunet and Gamba consider this an important edition by editorial standards but were not enthusiastic about the illustrations.  Gamba in particular states that it is a deluxe edition but not in good taste, (“Lusso ma niun buon gusto”).  

More recent scholarship has recognized the art work as representative of a school of artists working together in Venice for Antonio Zatta during the later years of the 18th century.  The art historian Maria Teresa Caracciolo calls Zatta’s Ariosto “The masterpiece of venetian book illustration in the 18th century.  Anne Palms Chalmers, curator of Prints at the Metropolitan Museum of Art states it this way:

“The Antonio Zatta edition of Orlando Furioso, 1772-73, clearly represents the difference between eighteenth-century book design and that of the seventeenth century, and, in fact, its similarities to that of the sixteenth.  Once again, the format is harmonious in composition, with bordered illustration facing cartouche, initial adding emphasis, and the type nicely set.  Once again, the nature of the ornament is unified by style, quality of line, and tone of printing.  The difference from the editions of the sixteenth century simply lies in the difference between sixteenth- and eighteenth-century taste.”

A look at Zatta’s list of book for sale, Catalogus librorum omnium of 1780 lists his 1772-73 edition of Ariosto in five formats.  This edition described as above was priced at Lira 130; a large paper copy lists for Lira 220; a copy printed on Imperial Holland paper with decorative borders enclosing each page of text was the most expensive copy and was priced at Lira 500; a copy on Holland paper without the borders lists at Lira 400; and finally a copy on “Biava” or blue paper with decorative borders was also priced at Lira 400. 

Giuseppe Agnelli and Giuseppe Ravegnani,  Annali delle Edizioni Arioste, Bologna, 1933, pp. 202-204.  Jacques Charles Brunet,  Manuel du Libraire I, p. 437.  Bartolomeo Gamba, Serie del testi di lingua Italiana, no. 57. Giuseppe Morazoni, Il libro illustrato Veneziano del Settecento, p. 213.  Candida Visco Romiti,  Mostra Bibliografica Ariostea nel v centenario della nascita di Ludovico Ariosto.  Rome:  Biblioteca Angelica, 1974, no. 65,  “Pregevole edizione” (Valuable edition). Anne Palms Chalmers “Venetian Book Design in the Eighteenth Century” Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin,  pp. 226-235, New Series Vol. 29, no. 5 (January 1971). Maria Teresa Caracciolo, “Lectures de l’Arioste au xviiie siècle du livre illustré au cycle peint” Gazette des Beaux-Arts, 1502 (March 1994) pp. 123-46.  Antonio Zatta, Catalogus Librorum Omnium, [Venice], 1780, pp. clxxi-ii. 


Price: $5,000.00

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