(Rome: Ex Typograhia Manelsi Manelsii, 1640). 175 x 125 mm. (6 7/8 x 4 3/4"). 4 p.l., 310,  pp. FIRST EDITION.
CONTEMPORARY LIMP VELLUM, EXTRAVAGANTLY GILT, covers with frames of decorative rolls enclosing a central panel with fan cornerpieces and the arms of Cardinal Piccolomini, flat spine gilt in compartments with central fleuron and curling cornerpieces, remnants of ties, all edges gilt. Extra engraved title page with the arms of the duke of Etruria. Front pastedown with morocco bookplate of Hans Furstenberg; recto and verso of front free endpaper with bookplates of Camille Aboussouan. Shallow chip along one inch of the front board fore edge, vellum lightly soiled, but the beautifully decorated binding very solid and very pleasing. Faint dampstain to head of leaves, extending slightly into text on first and last two gatherings, other minor defects in the text, but generally quite clean and fresh internally, with nothing approaching a significant condition issue.
This is the rarely seen original printing of Donati's tribute to the first Christian emperor of Rome, offered here in a lavishly decorated binding with connections to a prominent Italian family that gave the Catholic Church five cardinals and two popes. This posthumous work is an heroic poem recounting Constantine I's successful efforts to unite the eastern and western halves of the Roman Empire under the banner of Christianity. Dedicated to the young duke of Etruria in the hope that he would be inspired by Constantine's example of leadership, it was the final work by Donati (1584-1640), an eminent author of books on poetics and Roman history, and it was considered a laudable capstone to a noteworthy career. The Piccolomini family was powerful in Siena from the 13th through the 18th century, and in addition to prominent financiers, their ranks included important ecclesiastics, generals, and statesmen. The owner of the present volume was likely Cardinal Celio Piccolomini (1609-81), an ecclesiastical lawyer and papal nuncio. The book subsequently passed into the library of the great collector Jean (or Hans) Furstenberg (1890-1982), who put together one of the finest collections of 18th century books ever assembled, and an impressive array of fine and historic bindings. Later owner Camille Aboussouan (1919-2013) was a Lebanese diplomat, translator, and bibliophile. (ST13828)
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PJP Catalog: 73.041