Two Renaissance Treatises on Love, with a Mocking Judicial Slant

ARESTA AMORUM LI. [bound with] BEMBO, PIETRO. LES AZOLAINS DE MONSEIGNEUR BEMBO, DE LA NATURE D’AMOUR.

(Lyon: Sébastien Gryphe, 1546; Paris: Michel de Vascozan, 1548). 181 x 112 mm. (7 1/8 x 4 3/8"). 430 pp., [9] leaves (last blank); 155 leaves.First work edited and with Latin commentary by Benoît le Court; Second work translated from Italian by Jean Martin, secretary to Cardinal Lenoncourt.

CONTEMPORARY BLIND-STAMPED CALF, COVERS WITH ESPECIALLY APPEALING ALLEGORICAL ROLL FRAME OF THE ROMAN DEITIES, each shown with the symbol of the astrological sign(s) ruled by their namesake planets, central panel with small three-plume stamp, panel on upper cover with early ink inscription, raised bands, small holes for two ties. Printer's device (Baudrier, Gryphe #6) on final page of first work. First work: Baudrier VIII, 200. Binding roll not in Fogelmark, Goldschmidt, Haebler, or EBDB. A little crackling and a couple of small abrasions to spine leather, tiny cracks at joint ends, extremities a bit rubbed, lower cover with small patch of lost patina from insect activity, hinges slightly open before first and last pages, revealing the bands firmly holding boards in place, a couple of tiny rust spots, but all of these defects minor, and quite clean, crisp, and bright internally, in a lustrous unsophisticated binding with tooling in sharp relief.

Two Renaissance treatises on love are offered here in a particularly lovely contemporary binding adorned with classical figures well suited to its humanist content. A prose work by 15th century French poet Martial d'Auvergne (1430-1508), the satirical "51 Decrees of Love" applies laws and judicial procedures to questions of love; in the present "scholarly" edition, the mockery is increased, with the addition of Latin commentary by Lyon jurist and bibliophile Benoît le Court (d. 1559) to the original vernacular text. The second work is a series of dialogues on the topic of love by Italian cardinal and humanist scholar Pietro Bembo (1470-1547), whose clerical vows did not stop him from fathering seven children and having an affair with Lucretia Borgia. The wonderfully detailed roll used on our binding is similar to some produced by the prolific German toolmaker Meister NP, but does not bear his monogram. It depicts the gods and goddesses with their attributes--Sol with a smiling sun, Luna a crescent moon, Mercury in a winged helmet holding a caduceus, Mars in a helmet with weapons of war, Venus with heart and arrow, and, disturbingly, Saturn clutching the son he's about to devour. The impression is still in such high relief that we can appreciate minute design elements: Mars' fierce, mustachioed visage, Sol's regal Renaissance finery, the delicate folds of robes and capes, and the flowing tresses of Venus. The deities here have one thing in common: all lent their names to a planet or other heavenly body. Signs of the Zodiac are each assigned a ruling planet, and here the symbols of astrological signs appear beside the head of the deity for whom the planet that holds sway over them is named: Mercury appears with Gemini and Virgo, Venus with Libra and Taurus, and so on. We have not been able to find another stamp with this characteristic in the database of binding stamps (EBDB) compiled by the German Research Foundation (DFG).
(ST14919)

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PJP Catalog: NY19BF.015

ARESTA AMORUM LI. [bound with] BEMBO, PIETRO. LES AZOLAINS DE MONSEIGNEUR BEMBO, DE LA NATURE D’AMOUR.
ARESTA AMORUM LI. [bound with] BEMBO, PIETRO. LES AZOLAINS DE MONSEIGNEUR BEMBO, DE LA NATURE D’AMOUR.
ARESTA AMORUM LI. [bound with] BEMBO, PIETRO. LES AZOLAINS DE MONSEIGNEUR BEMBO, DE LA NATURE D’AMOUR.