199
199
Sannazaro, Jacopo
FINE SIXTEENTH-CENTURY ITALIAN MANUSCRIPT OF AN IMPORTANT LETTER ABOUT LATIN POETRY, TO ANTONIO SERIPANDO, THE AUTHOR 'SIGNING' HIMSELF AS "SYNCERUS TUUS", [C. 1521]
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199
Sannazaro, Jacopo
FINE SIXTEENTH-CENTURY ITALIAN MANUSCRIPT OF AN IMPORTANT LETTER ABOUT LATIN POETRY, TO ANTONIO SERIPANDO, THE AUTHOR 'SIGNING' HIMSELF AS "SYNCERUS TUUS", [C. 1521]
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Sannazaro, Jacopo
FINE SIXTEENTH-CENTURY ITALIAN MANUSCRIPT OF AN IMPORTANT LETTER ABOUT LATIN POETRY, TO ANTONIO SERIPANDO, THE AUTHOR 'SIGNING' HIMSELF AS "SYNCERUS TUUS", [C. 1521]
comprising a lengthy discussion, analysis and defence of Sannazaro's still unpublished Latin poem De partu Virginis, closely written in a humanistic Renaissance hand, up to forty lines per page, with a few additions inserted between the lines, deletions and corrections, in which he expresses pleasure at the retirement and departure of Pietro Bembo ("...Chel s[ign]or [messer] Pietro Bembo sia partito et habbia havuto il Cambio sto allegro…"), and responds to critiques of his poem by Antonio Tebaldeo and others, the drafts of which he has sent out to friends for their opinion, adducing over sixty short quotations in Latin from the poem in question, matched with a similar number from Virgil, Ovid and others in his defence, together with a few in Greek, concluding with a complaint that his health is affected by the weather, and reporting that this has limited his studies of Judaea and Syria

"...Ringratio infinite volte [messer] Anto Thebaldo de le fraterne et amorevoli admonitioni et le excuse, come son soverchie, che come V.S. sa peró mandai queste mie ineptie in Roma, per intender il parere deli amici et de tali amici mi son piaciute due cose, l’una che vedo che va per la via che vo io, benche più cautamte et con più felice corso. L’altra che non solo riprende, ma pensa ali remedii, che anchora non so ha fatto alcuno…"

6 pages, folio (c.285 x 215mm.), closely written, possibly a retained copy made directly from the autograph, later pencil pagination, remains of stitching, [probably Naples, c.1521], a few tiny perforations from oxidation of the ink, staining to margins


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Literature

J. Sannazaro, Opere volgari, ed. by A. Mauro (Bari: Laterza, 1961), letter LIII, pp. 375-88 (dated 15 April 1521); also in De partu Virginis, edited by C. Fantazzi and A. Perosa (Florence: Olschki, 1988), Appendix, IV, pp. 95-108. Fantazzi, 'Poetry and religion in Sannazaro's De partu Virginis', in Ut Granum Sinopsis. Essays in Honour of Jozef IJsewijn, (1997), p.236.

Catalogue Note

RARE: this is the most important manuscript of Jacopo Sannazaro (1458-1530) to appear at auction for many years; he was one of the luminaries of the Italian Renaissance and the father of Arcadian poetry (see lot 200). This letter, originally dating from around 15-20 April 1521, is by far his longest known; it is arguably one of the most informative documents on the writing of Latin poems in the early modern age. Sannazaro here agonizes over the final redaction of his poem De partu Virginis, after sending drafts to Antonio Tebaldeo, Jacopo Sadoleto, Giles of Viterbo and Seripando himself.  

This copy could possibly have been made at the time and directly from the original, so that Sannazaro had a record of his lengthy literary arguments; these cover seven pages in the autograph manuscript (now British Library Add Ms 12058, ff.1-4), and twice that in modern printed editions. Certain small additions, which in the autograph are inserted between the lines, are in this manuscript mostly integrated into the continuous text; however, not all: one is omitted and there are two passages, one nineteen words long, that are also additions here. Possibly, Sannazaro only added them to his autograph after this manuscript had already been copied from it. The humanistic hand is quite similar to Sannazaro's own and might well be that of a pupil or relative.

De partu Virginis is a Latin poem in hexameters overtly inspired by Virgil, fusing classical epic poetry with a biblical episode, in this case the birth of Christ. The poem was published in 1526 and again by Aldus in 1528, but, as the author points out, it circulated in manuscript well before that. Sannazaro states in this letter that the poem was the result of more than thirty-eight years of study, and it is characteristic of the self-conscious intellectualism of his milieu that he feels compelled to explain and justify his art. Sannazaro’s comment on Bembo's recent retirement dates the letter to 1521 and is the last and longest of his letters to Antonio Seripando (1476-1531), secretary to Cardinal Luigi d'Aragona. Sannazaro's academic name was "Actius Syncerus", and he frequently signs himself "Syncerus tuus" as here: see also the letters sold at Sotheby's on 25 June 1968 (Phillipps Collection), lot 884, now at the Morgan Library and Museum.

Sotheby's is happy to acknowledge the advice of Carlo Caruso and Brian Richardson in preparing this description.

Music, Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts and Continental Books

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