(Venetia: Stampato per Maistro Piero de Quarengis Bergomascho, 1517). 305 x 215 mm. (12 x 8 1/2"). 155 leaves (lacking the final blank).
VERY PLEASING OLIVE BROWN MOROCCO BY LEIGHTON (stamp-signed on front pastedown), covers panelled in an antique style, with gilt and blind rules and a broad and intricate gilt foliate border, gilt trefoils as cornerpieces in outer panel, small gilt circular floral cornerpieces in inner panel, raised bands flanked by blind rules terminating in trifoliate leaves on both covers, spine panels repeating the gilt foliate border from the cover, gilt-ruled and decorated turn-ins, all edges gilt. Elaborate woodcut border on title and following leaf, decorative woodcut initials, FINE WOODCUT VIGNETTE OF THE MARRIAGE OF THE VIRGIN (amidst an elaborate woodcut frame) ON TITLE PAGE, LARGE WOODCUT SHOWING CARACCIOLI PREACHING preceding first sermon, AND 42 SMALL WOODCUT VIGNETTES IN THE TEXT. Isolated old (17th century?) marginalia. Front flyleaf with the pencilled signature of the well-known bookseller and author Alan G. Thomas. Essling 836; Sander 1709. Only slight wear to joints and corners, spine faded (as always) to brown, a few superficial scratches and two small abrasions to lower cover, otherwise the bright and appealing binding in excellent condition. Six-inch tear artfully repaired in one leaf (readability just slightly affected), trivial losses due to a couple of holes in other leaves, occasional light stains, faint browning, smudges, and marginalia, but a very fresh and generally pleasing copy internally nevertheless.
The final product of the Quarengis press, this is a beautifully produced edition of Caraccioli's "Mirror of the Faith," a collection of 45 vernacular sermons intended for the unlearned as well as the learned. Bishop of Aquino and later of Lecce, Caraccioli (1425-95) was the most celebrated preacher in Italy during the last half of the 15th century. Called a "second Paul" and the "prince of preachers," he was able to arouse his listeners to sometimes unseemly levels of emotion, and partly for that reason, he was a controversial figure among the Franciscans of his time. This is one of his most important works, with sermons on such topics as the mysteries of Christ, the glories of the Virgin, the heroism of the saints, the role of guardian angels, the truth of the Christian faith in the face of accusations from the infidels, and so on. Essling indicates that the solemn and delicate title woodcut is taken from the Bible of 21 April 1502, and the historically interesting preaching scene is from an earlier edition of Caracciolus printed in that same year. Sander, citing Rappaport, notes that some copies of the work instead have a vignette of St. George slaying the dragon on the title page and also a Florentine version of the preaching scene, which he considers inferior to the woodcut here, ours being in the pure Venetian style within a "magnificent" historiated border. The present collection first appeared in 1495 and was printed again in 1505; all editions of the work are very rare. (CEH1304)
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PJP Catalog: 74.091