The Donaueschingen Copy in a Binding Executed by Very Talented Hands


(Lyon: J. Crespin for J. Giunta, 23 October 1526). 190 x 125 mm. (7 3/8 x 5"). 36 p.l., ccxlviii [i.e, 248] leaves.

HANDSOME CONTEMPORARY FLEMISH BLIND-STAMPED CALF, COVERS WITH TWO PANEL STAMPS OF SAINT JOHN ON PATMOS ATTRIBUTED by Fogelmark TO JOHANNES DE DUTCHE, the stamps separated by a floral roll, raised bands, rebacked preserving original backstrip, remnants of leather ties, pastedowns of 15th century vellum manuscript leaves. Small woodcut at opening of text showing del Maino teaching, his robe colored red by an amateur contemporary hand. With early owner notations on front pastedown, frequent underlinings, occasional ink marginalia in a lovely humanist script; verso of title page with stamp of F. F. Bibliothek Donaueschingen. Baudrier VI:122-123; Adams M-196. For the binding: Fogelmark NM.39, pl. xxxv, R. 72. Corners a little bumped, three short scratches and a couple of small stains to front cover, occasional minor stains or smudges, otherwise a fine copy, clean and crisp in a sound and attractive binding, its panels in well-defined relief.

This is a rare Lyon edition of a legal textbook by a renowned Italian jurist in a binding decorated with stamps attributed to the Antwerp binder Johannes de Dutche, also known as L'Allemans. The illegitimate son of an Italian nobleman, Del Maino (1435-1519) studied at the University of Pavia, where he subscribed to the views of the great Medieval jurist Bartolus de Saxoferrato on Roman law. A brilliant orator, he taught at the law schools of Pavia, Padua, and Pisa in addition to writing books of commentary on the Justinian Corpus Juris. The present work is a "very clear" [Praeclarissima] guide to causes of action and lawsuits. The attractive binding can be traced to a Flemish workshop. Fogelmark identifies these panels showing John the Evangelist, accompanied by his eagle, writing his gospel on Patmos, as "the Johannes de Dutche panel," noting specimens of it in the Royal Library in Brussels and the State Library in Augsburg. According to Weale, de Dutche was admitted to the bookbinders' guild in Antwerp in 1502, and was still in business there in 1509. His talent is evident in the design of the Saint John panel: the Evangelist sits, legs crossed, beneath a tree, writing on a scroll, while his eagle stands facing him, its legs similarly arranged, holding the saint's inkwell in its beak. We can see tufts of grass, barren limbs, and distant mountains beneath a starry sky. The level of detail is impressive, and the scene is remniscent of those in miniatures from Books of Hours. This volume was once in the collection of the great German court library of the Furstenberg princes at Donaueschingen. It was begun in the late 15th century by Count Wolfgang von Furstenburg and expanded by other members of that bibliophilic family over the next five centuries before being disbursed at auction in the 1990s.