Busts of Roman Imperial Women

LE IMAGINI DELLE DONNE AUGUSTE INTAGLIATE IN ISTAMPA DIRAME; CON LE VITE, ET IPSOSITIONI DI ENEA VICO, SOPRA I RIVERSI DELLE LORO MEDAGLIE ANTICHE. LIBRO PRIMO.

(In Vinegia [Venice]: Appresso Enea Vico Parmigiano et Vincenzo Valgrisio, 1557). 221 x 168 mm. (8 5/8 x 6 5/8"). [16], 208 [of 212], [4] pp. (lacking leaves N1 and S4, both with a full-page illustration, but only one with text). FIRST EDITION, Second Issue (with Roman numerals on illustrations).

Contemporary stiff vellum, smooth spine with ink lettering, speckled blue edges. With engraved title page, woodcut initials, 61 (of 63) FULL-PAGE ENGRAVINGS, several smaller in-text woodcut illustrations, final leaf with printer's device on verso. Front free endpaper with (slightly torn) 18th century bookplate of Gespare Negri, Bishop of Novigrad and Pore , Croatia. Two of the effigies crossed out in pen (as opposed to pasted over with paper--see Mortimer). Cicognara 3057; Mortimer (Italian) 532; Adams V-633; EDIT16 CNCE 54071. For the Artist, see Benezit XIV, 275. Vellum with slight wear and soiling, but the binding entirely sound and certainly pleasing; a few signatures with light marginal dampstains (more noticeable on last couple signatures, with the stains just touching edges of text and images), light finger soiling in many margins, other minor imperfections, but still quite a good copy of a scarce work, the contents bright and fresh, and with nothing approaching a fatal issue.

This is an especially pleasing numismatic work, containing an array of handsome engravings depicting the busts of Roman imperial women, based on antique coins or medals that display their likenesses. The illustrations here not only provide accurate representations of the objects themselves, but display them in beautiful and monumental ways: all but a few examples are presented within elaborate architectural frames incorporating sculpture, grotesques, putti, garlands, and other antiquarian motifs inspired by classical art and mythology. This imaginative work was produced by Enea Vico (1523-67), who studied with Tommaso Barlacchi in Rome and who seems to have specialized in antique subjects, numismatics, and costumes. Among his most notable patrons were Cosimo d'Medici, Alfonso II, Duke of Ferrara, and the sculptor Baccio Bandinelli (1493–1560), a rival of Michelangelo. According to Benezit, the present "important work 'Images of the Women of Augustus' appeared in several editions," but it is our first printing "which won him the most acclaim."
(CDO2217)

Keywords: Numismatics