Lot 33
  • 33

Vergilius Maro, Publius

6,000 - 9,000 GBP
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  • Vergilius Maro, Publius
  • Eighteenth-century Italian illustrated manuscript of the "Codex Vergilius Vaticanus", containing parts of the "Aeneid" and "Georgics", with engravings and drawings, in two volumes
  • paper
with the monumental title-page "Orbis cum tabulis quæ extant in antiquo Codice Vaticano ad priscum imaginum formam incisis a Petro Sancte Bartoli", inscribed within an engraved architectural frame (by Pietro Santi Bartoli, 1642), with the arms of Clement XI added in ink and dated by the scribe "Iacobus Manzonius...scribebat Romæ 1718", 55 engraved plates by Bartoli within the text, full-page frontispiece drawing in pen and brown ink by Giovanni Battista Pacetti, headpieces, finials and other decorations by Pacetti, calligraphic half-title with Clement's family monogram, the text written by Jacopo Manzoni in dark brown ink, within double-ruled borders throughout, with catchwords for the engraver  

2 volumes, large folio (c. 450 x 300mm.), c.442 pages in all, paginated throughout (1-435), late eighteenth-century French mottled calf, green-gilt ownership labels to covers ("F. Grouvel"), spines gilt in compartments ("P. Virgilii Maronis Opera"), green-gilt volume labels, Rome, 1718, oxidization of the ink to the text borders causing perforation and extensive splitting to the start of the first volume, some print-through from capitals, neat repairs to spine

Catalogue Note

This is a fine large Italian manuscript, incorporating an eighteenth-century transcription of a Classical manuscript of Vergil, together with engravings by Bartoli and contemporary drawings, in an impressive French binding.

The "Vatican Virgil" (c.400 A.D.) is the earliest important source for the "Aeneid" and one of only three illustrated manuscripts of classical literature, together with the fifth-century "Roman Virgil" (Rome, Vatican, Bib. Apostolica, Cod. Vat. lat. 3225 and Cod. Vat. 3867). These two ancient manuscripts contain fifty and nineteen remarkable painted illustrations respectively. The "Vatican Virgil" came to the Vatican Library in 1600 and in c. 1641 the Marquis and later Cardinal Camillo Massimi (subject of a fine portrait by Velázquez) started preparing a facsimile of it, commissioning the engraver Pietro Santi Bartoli (1635-1700) to reproduce the Vatican illustrations. Bartoli was a famous engraver of antique subjects, including suites illustrating the 'Columna Antoniana' (c. 1672) and the 'Colonna Traiana' (1673), most accompanied by texts by G.P. Bellori. He engraved fifty-five plates after the Vatican Virgil but the project stalled on Cardinal Massimi's death in 1677, and he published them without Virgil's text in Rome that year. The present manuscript seems to be the engraver's model for a projected edition, which would have brought Cardinal Massimi's project to fruition. The early eighteenth-century transcription of the text incorported Bartoli's title and his fifty-five engravings along with new drawings by Giovanni Battista Pacetti (1693-1743). Bartoli's title-page is neatly adapted to acknowledge the dedicatee Clement XI, and the engravings are carefully placed within the text. The text even includes catchwords for the published edition and the drawings are executed in a very polished manner, presumably also for the engraver.