Vellutello’s Dante, perfectly preserved
La Comedia di Dante Aligieri con la nova espositione di Alessandro Vellutello
Venice, Francesco Marcolini, Juin 1544
4to (233 x 160 mm) 442 un.leaves (last blank), italic and roman type, with a full-page woodcut at the beginning of each of the three cantica, and eighty-four woodcut vignettes in the text. Original yapped vellum, spine lettered in ms.
35 000 
Adams D 94; Mortimer, Italian 146; Casali Annali, 72; Batines I, pp. 82-84; Mambelli 30; Essling 545; Sander 2328.

In stock

A wonderful copy of this important edition, presenting for the first time alessandro vellutello’s commentary on the poem, the first of two new commentaries to be published during the 16th century. Illustrated with 87 magnificent woodcuts.

Born in the Tuscan city of Lucca, Vellutello was active in Venice during the early part of the century. He first made a name for himself by publishing a commentary on Petrarch in 1525 and an edition of Virgil’s works in 1533. By the time he turned to Dante, the Petrarch commentary had been twice reprinted and was well on its way to becoming one of the great editorial successes of the period. A sign of the commentator’s stature: Vellutello dedicates his Dante to Pope Paul III (1534-1549), sometimes known as “the last Renaissance pope” for his nepotism, his broad culture and patronage of the arts and letters.

Antonfrancesco Doni notes in his 1550 Libraria, Vellutello strained his mind, expenses and expended considerable time in having the 87 illustrations engraved. Possibly executed by Giovanni Britto, who worked as an engraver for the printer Francesco Marcolini, these illustrations are the most distinctive Renaissance renditions of the poem after Botticelli’s. Each scene records one or more scenes from the cantos.

For the Inferno, the illustrator uses a striking a circular design and aerial-like perspective. Unlike the majority of illustrations which accompany sixteenth-century printed editions of the Commedia, these depictions are closely related to Vellutello’s glosses. The illustrations seek to render the narrative accurately, much as Vellutello’s exposition seeks to do.

It is virtually impossible to find a copy of in magnificent state as here, clean, crisp, and completely unrestored in its original vellum binding.