Title: La comedia di Dante Alighieri con la nova esposizione di Alessandro Vellutello, 1544
Author: Dante Alighieri; Alessandro Vellutello
Publisher: In Venezia, Per Francesco Marcolini
Condition: Very Good
A rare first edition of the Vellutello edition of Dante’s great poetical work, The Divine Comedy, featuring a celebrated commentary by the former.
This work contains 77 of 87 beautiful woodcuts depicting various scenes of the afterlife, with this edition being the first to use this extremely influential series of woodcuts. There are three full page woodcuts of Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise respectively, announcing each part of the poem.
"While the fifteenth-century blocks could serve as a quick reference for figures in the text, these 1544 blocks are an extension of the commentary, a more instructive form of illustration" (Harvard, Italian, 146). The woodcuts themselves reappeared in several editions by the Sessa brothers, being the 1564, 1578, and 1596 printings, and 79 of the original blocks were used in Palazzi's Compendio della Comedia di Dante Alighieri.
Curiously, the original title page that is lacking has been supplemented by a custom-made facsimile of the 18th or early 19th century. More unusually however is the fact that this title page does not appear in the collation of any 1544 edition on Worldcat or OCLC, or even any 16th century available. The title page itself seems to be a one-of-a-kind custom printed title page, meant to emulate the stylings of the 18th century, with chain lines matching that era. There is no identifiable watermark.
This edition integrates the triplet “Dianzi uenimmo inanzi a uoi un poce”, stamped at the foot of the V7 recto, which is normally found lacking due to printing oversight, thus marking it as the June 1544 imprint.
The page edges also appear to have been gauffered with the gilt still clearly showing, though the gauffering itself is much less distinct. There is ruling used throughout the entirety of this volume as well.
One vellum bound volume in quarto, 415 leaves. Collation a-z8, ab-az8, bc-bI8
On note of condition, this volume bears very little wear and rubbing to the binding, though the covers are stained. The leaves aa8 -bb8 - cc10 are lacking, and more specifically the dedication to Pope Paul III is lacking, along with the woodcuts that were in that section. The entirety of the Divine Comedy itself is present, including the colophon at the end. There is some foxing and staining throughout. Otherwise, a very good copy.