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Giovanni Boccaccio 1313-2013: Selected Rare Volumes

Giovanni Boccaccio, Genealogiae Ioannis Boccatii. Venice, 1494/95

Known in English as On the genealogy of the gods of the Gentiles, this is an encyclopaedic treatise on the complex family relationships of the classical gods of Ancient Greece and Rome, written by Boccaccio in Latin prose from 1360 onwards. Included from his earliest manuscripts, the family trees are thought to be the first non-Biblical use of this type of diagram.

This copy produced in Venice by Boneto Locatelli forms part of SCOLAR’s incunabula collection of almost 200 books printed in the 15th century, during the first 50 years of printing.

 

Giovanni Boccaccio, Genealogiae Ioannis Boccatii. Venice, 1494/95

 

Francesco Petrarca, Trionfi. Venice, 1488

Petrarch’s Trionfi (or Triumphs) is a collection of lyric poems contemplating the successive victories of Love, Chastity, Death, Fame, Time, and Eternity. This late 15th century Italian edition contains numerous beautifully-written marginal annotations by a former owner.

 

Dante Alighieri, La comedia di Dante. Venice, 1544

This edition of Dante’s famous Commedia is illustrated with 87 woodcuts, including three full-page illustrations establishing the beginning of the Inferno, the Purgatorio and the Paradiso.

Boccaccio was an active admirer and populariser of the Commedia and from the beginning he established a relationship between his own work and Dante’s, particularly in the Decameron, where the tale of Paulo and Francesca pays direct homage to the Commedia.

 

Giovanni Boccaccio, Ameto, ouer, Comedia delle nimphe fiorentine. Venice, 1524

This copy of Boccaccio’s work on the civilising nature of love comes, like many of our earliest printed books, from the collection of W. P. Lindsay Jones which was purchased for the Cardiff Public Library in 1902 by a group of prominent Cardiff citizens.

 

Giovanni Boccaccio, Ameto, ouer, Comedia delle nimphe fiorentine. Venice, 1524

 

Giovanni Boccaccio, Ameto: comedia delle ninfe Fiorentine. Venice, 1586

The Comedia delle ninfe fiorentine (also known as Ameto) is a mix of prose and poems completed by Boccaccio in 1341. Our well-used copy of this late 16th century edition includes extensive manuscript notes in an 18th century Italian hand.

 

Giovanni Boccaccio, Laberinto d’amore. Florence, 1525

Il corbaccio (the false title Laberinto d’amore did not appear until the 16th century) is Boccaccio’s most controversial work due to its seemingly misogynistic content as a diatribe against a Florentine woman who rejected the author’s advances. This copy of the 1525 Italian edition is bound in a leaf of 15th century printed vellum.

 

Giovanni Boccaccio, Amorous Fiametta. London, 1929

Written in the first person and often described as the first psychological novel in Western literature, the story has Lady Fiammetta recounting her tragic love affair with Panfilo, a Florentine merchant, offering it as a warning to other women. This 1929 edition by Mandrake Press is a reprint of the first English translation of 1587.

 

Giovanni Boccaccio, Amorous Fiametta. London, 1929

 

Giovanni Boccaccio, Il Decameron. London, 1920

Considered one of the greatest achievements of the Ashendene Press, printing of this edition of the Decameron commenced in 1913 but was interrupted by the Great War and not completed until December 1920.

This is one of only 80 copies on paper which were offered for sale, with another 6 copies on vellum. Beautifully printed in red, blue and black, the 'Subiaco' type used here is based on an Italian type face of 1465.

 

Giovanni Boccaccio, Libro di M. Giovanni Boccaccio Delle donne illustri. Florence, 1596

Boccaccio’s On famous women, originally published in 1374, was the first collection in Western literature to be devoted solely to biographies of women. The 106 short biographies cover historical and mythological women and Boccaccio hoped that including examples of both good and wicked women would help promote virtue and reduce vice.

Giovanni Boccaccio, Geneologia de gli dei. Venice, 1547

This mid-16th century first Italian translation of Boccaccio’s genealogy of the pagan gods is bound in a contemporary limp vellum lined with fragments of medieval manuscript, a very common practice in the early days of printing.

The book contains hundreds of historiated initials, both small and large, each one forming a miniature woodcut vignette.

 

Giovanni Boccaccio, Libro di M. Giovanni Boccaccio Delle donne illustri. Florence, 1596

 

Giovanni Boccaccio, Il Decameron. Venice, 1538

In Italy during the time of the Black Death, a group of ten young men and women flee plague-ridden Florence to spend two weeks in a deserted villa in the countryside. To pass the evenings, every member of the party tells a story each night for ten nights. Thus, by the end of the fortnight they have told the 100 stories of the Decameron of Giovanni Boccaccio.

The various tales included here range from comedy and eroticism to tragedy, and they strongly influenced later writers such as Shakespeare, Chaucer, Tennyson and Poe.

 

Giovanni Boccaccio, Il Decameron. Venice, 1538

 

Giovanni Boccaccio, I casi de gli huomini illustri opera di M. Giouan Boccacio. Venice, 1551

This Italian edition of De casibus virorum illustrium (On the fates of famous men) is a work of 56 biographies in Latin prose composed by Boccaccio from 1355 to 1374 in the form of moral stories of the fortunes and inevitable falls of famous people, from the biblical Adam to ‘celebrities’ from Boccaccio's own time.

 

Giovanni Boccaccio, The novels and tales of the renowned John Boccacio, the first refiner of Italian prose. London, 1684

This is a revised and enlarged edition of the first English translation of Boccaccio’s Decameron with an engraved frontispiece portrait of the author by R. White after Titian.

 

Giovanni Boccaccio, The novels and tales of the renowned John Boccacio, the first refiner of Italian prose. London, 1684