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Vita del Prencipe Don Ferrando Gonzaga. In Tre' Libri Divisa
Vita del Prencipe Don Ferrando Gonzaga by Giuliano Goselini was published in 1574 by Paolo Gottardo Pontio in Milan. It is the biography of Ferrando Gonzaga, or Ferrante Gonzaga, Prince of Molfetta. Gonzaga was an Italian general and governor of Milan, loyal to Charles V. He began serving in this latter position in 1546.1 Earlier, he had "fought at the Sack of Rome in 1527, and played a vital role in saving Naples from Lautrec in 1528."2 He had "once urged Charles to conquer the rest of Italy and rule it with Spanish functionaries."3 He remained as governor until 1554.4
Giuliano Goselini was born in Rome in 1525. Starting in 1546, he served as Gonzaga's secretary.5 In addition to this biography, his poetry was published in multiple editions.6
This copy of the Vita del Prencipe has a red, morocco leather binding. A double fillet border is gold-tooled on both covers. The spine has five raised bands; it is divided into six compartments. The title is gold-tooled in the second compartment from the head. Each of the other compartments repeat a gold-tooled floral pattern. The board edges are gold-tooled as well. The endpapers are wide-comb marbled. The laid paper has horizontal chain lines and vertical wire lines. This copy has a colophon date of 1575.
There are scratches and soiling on both covers. The corners and edges are rubbed. Both joints show cracking and closed tears near the head and tail. There are open tears on the head and tail of spine. The head of the textblock and the headband are soiled. Gold is missing from the double fillet border and the "o" of Gonzaga on the spine. A small scratch on the foreedge affects pages 353-416. Foxing and tanning on the margins appears throughout the text. Possible dampstains in the bottom margin start around signature Oo and worsen towards LLl. Having had many prominent owners, the text is, disappointingly, clean.
This book has passed through its owners' hands as a luxury item. It was owned by aristocratic authors, scholars, and collectors. Its hand-tooled, expensive morocco binding, gilt edges, and historiated initials provide excellent examples of the tastes and techniques involved in sixteenth-century book production.
In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Milan was under Spanish control.7 Ferrante Gonzaga's loyalty to Spain and his position of power and influence in Milan make him a representative figure for this period in the city's history.8 No English translation of this book exists. There are no similar biographical monographs on Gonzaga. The record Goselini made, therefore, stands as an important resource for any future scholarship on an important leader of this period.
Origin: The Publisher
Paolo Gottardo Pontio, or Paolo Gotardo da Ponte
Pontio published two other works by Goselini in the 1570s - his Rime and his Dichiaratione di Alcuni Componimenti.9 He also published some books jointly with his brother, another Milanese publisher named Pacifico da Ponte.10
Honoré d'Urfé ("Ex libris Honorati D'Urfé 16?6 parisiis")
The first known owner of this book, Honoré d'Urfé, was a French author who lived from 1568 to 1625. He is mainly known for L'Astrée, his most influential work and his only novel, the first part of which was published in 1607. D'Urfé explored varied philosophical, historical, and political themes in this monumental opus, which was ultimately left uncompleted at the time of his death.
Before his writing career, d'Urfé had fought in battle against the supporters of Henri IV. During and after his resulting imprisonment in 1595, his creative output began.11
Richard Heber ("Bibliotheca Heberiana")
The next owner of Goselini's biography was an avid book collector from England: Richard Heber. Marc Vaulbert de Chantilly refers to Heber as "the greatest bibliomaniac of them all."12 His library contained an estimated 150,000 volumes. After Heber's death, Thomas Frognall Dibdin said of his house in Pimlico, "I had never seen rooms, cupboards, passages, and corridors, so choked, so suffocated with books."13 Similar scenes were found at Heber's other houses and hotel rooms across England and continental Europe.14
Relevant to the Vita del Prencipe's provenance evidence, Aaron Hunt notes that "'Bibliotheca Heberiana'... appears to be Dibdin's coinage rather than Heber's own title for his library. It also seems to have been Dibdin who had the well-known 'Bibliotheca Heberiana' ink-stamp put on the flyleaves of the more valuable books to discourage theft."15
According to an auction catalogue, the Vita del Prencipe was sold from the Heber collection on April 23, 1834.16
William Beckford ("Mr. Beckford's, formerly Heber's, copy")
William Beckford, after Heber's death, said, "this mountainous mass of literature... should it be doomed to dispersion, inevitably must stop up the very pores of collectors and occasion such a surfeit as will be felt and remembered for a century."17 Beckford was an English author and aristocrat who lived from 1760 to 1844.18 Whether the Vita del Prencipe came into Beckford's possession at the 1834 auction cannot be confirmed. However, it is certain that the book left Beckford's library at the Hamilton Palace Sale conducted by Sotheby on Tuesday, December 12, 1882. At that time, according to marginalia in one of the auction catalogues, it was sold to Sotheran.19
Henry Sotheran & Co. (“Henry Sotheran & Co., 136 Strand, W.C.”)
The reported 1882 acquisition by Henry Sotheran & Co. is confirmed both by the ticket on the front pastedown and the listing that appears in the pages of Sotheran's Price Current of Literature in 1883.20
Henry Sotheran & Co. was founded in 1761. In 2016, the business celebrated "200 years of bookselling in London."21
The Duke of Cleveland ("Battle Abbey 208")
An entry under Harry George Powlett (4th duke of Cleveland) in the Catalogue of the London Library reveals that "the valuable lib. of the late duke of C., forming a portion of the heirlooms of Battle Abbey, Sussex,... [were] sold by Messrs. Sotheby on 16th June 1902."22
A handwritten note on the front free endpaper verso locates the Vita del Prencipe at this same auction: "From Sale of Battle Abbey Library at Sotheby's 16 June 1902." A Battle Abbey book label on the front pastedown further verifies it as being part of the duke's library.
Henry J. B. Clements ("Patriis Virtutibus")
The last owner to leave provenance evidence in this copy of the Vita del Prencipe was Colonel Henry John Beresford Clements. Clements lived in County Leitrim, Ireland and London, England from 1869 to 1940. He was an expert in the identification of the "armorial and ownership devices" on book bindings.23
His name and motto, "Patriis Virtutibus," appear on this non-armorial bookplate.
1 Stefano D’Amico, Spanish Milan: A City within the Empire, 1535-1706, Book, Whole (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), 130.
2 Richard Wistreich, Warrior, Courtier, Singer: Giulio Cesare Brancaccio and the Performance of Identity in the Late Renaissance (Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2013), 21.
3 Eric W. Cochrane, Italy 1530-1630, ed. Julius Kirshner, Longman History of Italy (London: Longman, 1988), 36.
4 D’Amico, Spanish Milan: A City within the Empire, 1535-1706, 130.
5 G. Garollo, Dizionario Biografico Universale, vol. 1 (Milan: Ulrico Hoepli, 1907), https://hdl.handle.net/2027/uc1.$b471189, 958.
6 British Library, Short-Title Catalogue of Books Printed in Italy and of Italian Books Printed in Other Countries from 1465 to 1600 Now in the British Library (London: The British Library, 1986), 918.
7 D’Amico, Spanish Milan: A City within the Empire, 1535-1706.
8 Ibid, 130.
9 British Library, Short-Title Catalogue of Books Printed in Italy and of Italian Books Printed in Other Countries from 1465 to 1600 Now in the British Library, 309, 918.
10 British Library, Short-Title Catalogue of Books Printed in Italy and of Italian Books Printed in Other Countries from 1465 to 1600 Now in the British Library: Supplement (London: The British Library, 1986), 110.
11 Jean-Pierre van Elslande, “Honore D’urfe,” Dictionary of Literary Biography (Detroit: Gale, 2003), http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=LitRC&sw=w&u=msu_main&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CH1200011019&sid=summon&asid=7c102e8f3e1a035e362172573a7c75ef.
12 Marc Vaulbert de Chantilly, “Property of a Distinguished Poisoner: Thomas Griffiths Wainewright and the Griffiths Family Library,” in Under the Hammer: Book Auctions since the Seventeenth Century, ed. Robin Myers, Michael Harris, and Giles Mandelbrote (New Castle: Oak Knoll Press, 2001), 129.
13 Arnold Hunt, “The Sale of Richard Heber’s Library,” in Under the Hammer: Book Auctions since the Seventeenth Century, ed. Robin Myers, Michael Harris, and Giles Mandelbrote (New Castle: Oak Knoll Press, 2001), 146.
14 Ibid, 146-147.
15 Ibid, 149.
16 S. Sotheby & Son, Bibliotheca Heberiana. Catalogue of the Library of the Late Richard Heber, Esq. (London: S. Sotheby & Son, 1834), http://hdl.handle.net/2027/nyp.33433089894954, 162.
17 Hunt, “The Sale of Richard Heber’s Library,” 144.
18 Devendra P. Varma, “William Beckford,” in Supernatural Fiction Writers: Fantasy and Horror, ed. Everett Franklin Bleiler, vol. 1, Scribner Writers Series (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1985), http://ezproxy.msu.edu.proxy1.cl.msu.edu/login?url=http://go.galegroup.com.proxy1.cl.msu.edu/ps/i.do?p=LitRC&sw=w&u=msu_main&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CH1479000064&asid=270aeb4237a51745a5b312c916e57adc.
19 Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge, The Hamilton Palace Libraries. Catalogue of the Second Portion of the Beckford Library, Removed from Hamilton Palace (London: Dryden Press, 1882), https://hdl.handle.net/2027/umn.31951d00189727f?urlappend=%3Bseq=251, 22.
20 Henry Sotheran & Co., Sotheran’s Price Current of Literature, 11.
21 “About Us,” Sotheran’s of Sackville Street, accessed October 14, 2017, https://www.sotherans.co.uk/AboutUs.php.
22 C. T. Hagberg Wright and C. J. Purnell, Catalogue of the London Library, St. James Square, London, vol. 1 (London: The London Library, 1913), 521.
23 Victoria and Albert Museum, “National Art Library Collection of Armorial Bindings,” Victoria and Albert Museum, September 25, 2012, http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/n/national-art-library-collection-of-armorial-bindings/.
Created by Gabriel Lozano for Professor Brockey's HST 475, MSU, Fall 2017.