VITRUVIUS, Marcus Pollio [with] FRONTINUS, Sextus Iulius [with] NICHOLAS OF CUSA


VITRUVIUS, Marcus Pollio. De architectura [with] FRONTINUS, Sextus Iulius. De aquaeductibus urbis Romae [with] NICHOLAS OF CUSA. De staticis experimentis.

Strasbourg, in officina Knoblochiana per Gregorium Machaeropioeum, 1543.


FIRST EDITION. Small 4to, pp. (lii) 262 (=260) (lii), *4 *a-*d4 *e6 A-2H4 2I6 α-ε4 ζ6. Three works in one volume. Predominantly Italic letter, some Roman and sporadic Greek. Decorated initials, capital spaces with guide-letters and 91 woodcut illustrations throughout (from 86 woodblocks), small to full-page. Occasional early handwriting. Rear endpaper with extensive ms. annotation. Bound in contemporary limp vellum, binding detached, a little soiled and browned, headcap torn with loss, one-inch clean tear to outer edge of rear cover, ink title to spine, yapp edges. An excellent copy.

This is the rare first edition of Vitruvius printed outside of Italy for the very first time. This first German printing of Vitruvius was edited by Walter Hermann Ryff (d. 1548), a Strasbourg physician, mineralogist and mathematician who spent most of his life in Alsace, Nuremburg and Würzburg. The majority of the woodcut illustrations are based on Cesare Cesariano’s Como edition (1521). A few others are copied from Giocondo’s edition as well as the fourth book of Serlio. In this present Latin edition Ryff quotes many authors, such as Alberti, Luca Pacioli, Serlio, Philandrier, Dürer, the mathematicians Pedro Nuñez and Oronce Fine, Niccolò Tartaglia, and others. But his main source is Cesariano’s Italian edition. Ryff emulated the taste of the Italian for long digressions and abundant annotations. However, he excels over Cesariano for the greater lexical precision of his translation. The humanist shows off his vast culture, indulging with quotations from Virgil, whom he does not hesitate to annotate. A second edition of Ryff’s Vitruvius was issued in 1550, this time translated in German. The present Latin edition of the ‘Ten Books on Architecture’, printed by Johann Knobloch, is the first of four corresponding publications. Particularly noteworthy in Ryff’s edition is its scientific apparatus and the hitherto unequaled comprehensive, alphabetical and systematic keyword index. The introduction was written by the head of the Knobloch office, Georg Messerschmidt (1515-1566) and “Contrary to other assessments of literature, the superiority of the Strasbourg edition in terms of illustrations must be pointed out, at least in comparison to the small Giunta edition available at the time” Werner Oechslin, ‘Vitruvianism’ in Germany, in: Architect & Engineer (Ausstellungskat HAB Wolfenbüttel), pp. 53, No. 34.

Adams V 906. Cicognara 707. Berlin Katalog 1806. Fowler, 401. See also Fowler 395; VD16 V 1763; USTC 674607.

MARLIANI, Bartolomeo


Urbis Romae Topographia.

Rome, in aedibus Valerij dorici & Aloisij fratris,…, 1544.


FIRST ILLUSTRATED EDITION. Folio, ff. 6, pp. 122 [2], A6, A-B4, C-L6. Italic letter, some Roman and Greek. T-p without ornamentation, woodcut initials. 23 fine woodcut illustrations, including a folding double-page engraved map of Rome signed by the calligrapher Giovanni Battista Palatino (Frutaz 12); very large woodcut printer’s device (Pegasus) on recto of final leaf with register and imprint date. First issue, which shows the text of the privilege from Pope Paul III. Small hole due to the moulding of a little area of the upper margins of the first three initial leaves. Extensive waterstaining affecting the book throughout, along gutters and foot margins. Light soiling, or spotting, and thumb marking to margins of some pages. Folding plate with the plan of Rome somewhat worn, with some parts partially detaching. In contemporary limp vellum, missing ties, cover edges slightly ragged. A good well-margined copy on thick paper, despite the waterstains.

The FIRST illustrated edition of this important guide to Rome, dedicated to Francis I.  The text, first published in 1534 by Antonio Blado with a dedication by Rabelais, was substantially amended and enriched with woodcut plans, views, and sculptures for the present edition. Born towards the end of C15th to a noble Milanese family, Bartolomeo Marliani dedicated his life to the study of Roman archaeology. This work was the pre-eminent account of the antiquities of classical Rome of his day, many of which were to suffer subsequent alteration or disappearance. This edition is one of the masterpieces of Renaissance classical architecture and has remained justly sought after throughout four and a half centuries. The enduring importance of the work is that it tells us what the city was like before many of its ancient ruins were altered, incorporated or swept away in the great building activities of the later C16th and C17th . Marliani’s approach to the archeology of Rome differs considerably from that of his predecessors, especially Giacomo Mazzocchi, in that he gives far more prominence to architectural and sculptural detail than to inscriptions, which had almost solely occupied earlier archaeologists. Illustrations include a map of Rome, the mythological founders of the city Romulus, and his brother Remus with the she Wolf, the Laocoon, the Circus Maximus, the Pyramid, the Pantheon, and the Obelisk. The depiction of the statue of Laocoon is one of the earliest; Marliani had been present in Rome for the discovery of the statue in 1520.

BM STC It. p.418;  Fowler p.189; Olschki 17512; Brunet III 1437-8 “Edition ornée de bonne gravures sur bois…..Elle est rare, assez recherchée, et néanmois à bas prix”.  Mortimer, Harvard C16 It. 284 (with 4 reproductions); Censimento 16 CNCE 34273; Culot, Bozerian roulettes 19, 42, palettes 3, 12, signatures 1; Adams M-610; Berlin Kat. 1831; Schudt 605.