Bibliotheca Brookeriana: A Renaissance Library. Magnificent Books and Bindings

Bibliotheca Brookeriana: A Renaissance Library. Magnificent Books and Bindings

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 83. Serlio, Il terzo libro; Regole generali, Venice, 1540, both printed on blue paper and bound together by the Cupid's Bow Binder.

Serlio, Il terzo libro; Regole generali, Venice, 1540, both printed on blue paper and bound together by the Cupid's Bow Binder

Auction Closed

October 11, 11:51 PM GMT


400,000 - 500,000 USD

Lot Details


Serlio, Sebastiano. Il terzo libro di Sabastiano Serlio bolognese, nel qual si figurano, e descrivono le antiquità di Roma, e le altre che sono in Italia, e fuori d’Italia. Venice: Francesco Marcolini, March 1540. Bound with the "Libro quarto":

Sebastiano Serlio, Regole generali di architettura di Sebastiano Serlio bolognese sopra le cinque maniere de gli edifici, cioè thoscano, dorico, ionico, corinthio, e composito. Con gli essempi de l’antiquita, che per la maggior parte concordano con la dottrina di Vitruuio.Con nuoue additioni. Venice: Francesco Marcolini, February 1540 [more veneto, i.e. February 1541]

Spectacular copies of Serlio’s Terzo libro and Regole generali di architecttura, printed on large, blue paper, presumed to be copies carried by Serlio from Venice to France and bound there for presentation to a potential patron. The blue paper stock used for the text is watermarked with an anchor within a circle, surmounted by a star. (The endleaves and pastedowns in the Brooker volume are also contemporary blue paper, but from a different stock than the text leaves; a leaf from this second stock is also bound between the two works. This paper has an unusually complex watermark with many discrete elements, but it may basically be described as a goblet surmounted by a cross; we were unable to trace this design on the online Wasserzeichen-Informationssystem.)

Another such volume, containing blue paper copies of the Terzo libro and Regole on the same text paper as ours, is in the Bibliothèque nationale de France. It was bound in green goatskin ca. 1540–1547 by Jean Picard for Jean Grolier (see no. 1a in List below).

Serlio had postponed his departure from Venice in order to supervise Marcolini’s reissue of the Regole (published previously in 1537), preparing a new dedication (to Alfonso d’Avalos, governor of Milan), introducing “alcune additioni” and making “molte correttioni.” He arrived in France during the autumn of 1541 and on 27 December 1541 took up his appointment as architect to François I. The king had contributed 300 gold scudi towards the cost of publication of the Terzo libro and accepted its dedication. Before his departure, Serlio despatched to the court a large paper copy (on white paper stock) in a magnificent Venetian filigree binding with marbled ground and foliate cartouches (Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Rés V 720). A copy of the 1537 edition of the Regole (also on white paper) had been sent previously to the King via the French ambassador in Venice, Georges D’Armagnac, and bound in France with the royal arms and emblem (Paris, BnF, Rés V 342).

The printer Francesco Marcolini often produced special copies of his publications on blue paper. These blue paper copies of the 1540 Terzo libro and 1541 Regole are known:

Terzo libro bound with Regole Generali 

(1a) bound at Paris ca. 1540–1547, in green goatskin by Jean Picard for Jean Grolier de Servières, vicomte d’Aguisy (1489?–1565). Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Rés-V-721 (1-2).

Gabriel Austin, The library of Jean Grolier: a preliminary catalogue (New York 1971), no. 488; Howard Nixon, Bookbindings from the library of Jean Grolier: a loan exhibition (London 1965), Pls. G-I.

(1b) bound at Paris ca. 1540s with a third work (Marco Fabio Calvi, Antiquae vrbis Romae cum regionibus simulachrum, Rome: Valerio Dorico, 1532; on white paper), in red goatskin with black interlacing. Sotheby Wilkinson & Hodge, Catalogue of valuable English and foreign books and manuscripts, London, 31 May-1 June 1907, lot 309 — Pickering, London - bought in sale (£50) — Baltimore, Walters Art Gallery.

(1c) The volume offered here.

(1d) half-binding. Dole, Bibliothèque municipale, 16G/113 (CCFr: “Demi-reliure. Lavé et réglé. Imprimé sur papier bleu”).

(1e) 18th-century brown half-goatskin. Francesco Bartoli (?). Philobiblon, One thousand years of bibliophily (New York 2018), item 97 — Forum Auctions, London, Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper, 25 March 2021, lot 9 (lacks 4 leaves), purchased by — unidentified owner (£12,000). Current location not traced.

(1f) early 18th-century calf. Stéphane Clavreuil, London (offered at Frieze Masters, London, 2022; €135,000).

Terzo libro alone 

(2a) half-bound in brown calf. William Gedney Beatty (1869–1942) — New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 41.100.135.

(2b) half-bound in goatskin. Carlo Riva (Boulouze & Antoine-Laurent Potier, Catalogue de livres rares et précieux, manuscrits et imprimés, composant la bibliothèque de M. C.R*** de Milan, Paris, 8-23 January 1857, lot 469), purchased by — unidentified owner (Fr 100). Current location not traced.

(2c) 18th-century Italian gilt leather binding. New York, New York Public Library, Spencer Coll. Ital. 1540.

Regole generali alone

(3a) vellum binding. Giacomo Manzoni (1816-1889); Sangiorgi, Catalogue de la bibliothèque de feu M. le Comte Jacques Manzoni, Première partie, Rome, 4 January-1 February 1892, lot 4119 (part lot) — Giacomo Boni (1859-1925) — Welbore St Clair Baddeley (1856-1945), Castle Hale, Painwick — St Andrews, University of St Andrews Library, Typ IV. B40MS.

(3b) half-calf binding. Guglielmo Bruto Icilio Tirnoleone, Count Libri (Libri-Carrucci) (1803–1869; S. Leigh Sotheby & John Wilkinson, London, Catalogue of the Choicer Portion of the Magnificent Library, formed by M. Guglielmo Libri, 1–15 August 1859, lot 2493), purchased by — Thompson (£1 10s). Current location untraced.

(3c) unknown binding. François Cliquot (d. 1805; Lenormand de Villeneuve & Jacques Techener, Paris, Précieuse collection de livres anciens et rares la plupart en riches et élégantes reliures provenant de la bibliothèque de M. F. Clicquot, de Reims, 22–29 April 1843, lot 129 (“gr. in-fol. fig. Exemp. imp. sur papier bleu”). Current location not traced.

(3d) unknown binding. R. Weigel, Leipzig, Kunstlager-Catalog, Eilfte Abtheilung (1841), item 11,396 (2 Thlr; “Ex auf blau Papier gedruckt”; no description of binding). Current location untraced.

(3e) unknown binding. possibly Dresden, Royal Library Arch. 213 or Archit. 214, misc.2-2. See Friedrich Ebert, Allgemeines bibliographisches Lexikon (Leipzig, 1821–1830), no. 21013 (“Vom 3n u. 4n Buche nach der Ausg. von 1540 sahe Brunet ein Ex. auf blau Papier … ein dergleichen vom 4n Buche allein ist in der königl. Bibl. zu Dresden”).

2 works in one volume, folio (408 x 264 mm). (I) Roman and italic types, lines variable. printed on blue paper. collation: [A2] B–V4: 78 leaves. Title set within a cartouche held by putti above a large woodcut of antique ruins, 120 woodcut illustrations (32 full-page, 4 full-sheet), woodcut printer's device and typographic colophon both framed by woodcut cartouche on verso of final leaf, historiated woodcut initials. (II) Roman and italic types, lines variable. printed on blue paper. collation: A–T4: 76 leaves. Title printed with woodcut architectonic border, 126 woodcuts (56 full-page), woodcut printer's device and typographic colophon both framed by woodcut cartouche on verso of final leaf, historiated woodcut initials.

binding: Parisian olive goatskin (410 x 274 mm), ca. 1555, by the Cupid’s Bow Binder, richly gilt, 3 gilt fillets around sides, frame of 3 interlaced triple fillets, in center panel interlaced rectangle and lozenge surrounded by large variety of arabesque, azured, and open tools connected by tendrils (Nixon CB 6, 7, 8, 10a, 10b, 26, 45a, 45b; Bookbindings from the Library of Jean Grolier), spine with 7 full and 2 half bands, compartments with open quatrelobe, 2-line title lettered in second compartment “SERLIO | III.IIII.,” blue-paper endpapers, edges gilt. (Slightest rubbing to extremities, but withal wonderful condition.) Olive morocco folding-case gilt.

provenance: Underlining, in brown ink, on about six leaves (unidentified) — Jean Blondelet (d. 2001; initials in blue ink on lower pastedown) — Librairie Thomas-Scheler, Paris (Sixteen Exceptional Books from the 13th to the 19th Century, 2007). acquisition: Purchased from Librairie Thomas-Scheler, 2007. 

references: (I) Edit16 49984; USTC 856038; Fowler 308; Mortimer, Italian, no. 472; Casali, Gli annali della tipografia veneziana di Francesco Marcolini (Bologna, 1953), no. 52; Vène, Bibliographia Serliana (Paris, 2007), no. 3; (II) Edit16 28611; USTC 856043; Fowler 314; Mortimer, Italian, cf. no, 471 for 1537 ed.); Casali, no. 51; Vène, no. 4.