(Venetia [Venice]: Bertani, 1667). 143 x 77 mm. (5 5/8 x 3"). Five Volumes. Translated from the French into Italian by Daniello de Nobili. With a life of the saint by Father Giuseppe Fozi, S. J.
SUPERB CONTEMPORARY ROMAN BROWN MOROCCO, LAVISHLY GILT, BY THE ANDREOLI BINDERY, covers with decorative gilt roll frame enclosing central panel with elaborate cornerpieces of fleurons, scrolls, and small tools, the arms of the Machiavelli and Bacelli families at center surrounded by gilt filigree and flanked by two putti holding a crown above it, flat spine with repeating lozenges composed of floral tools, gilt titling at head, all edges gilt. Engraved publisher's device, decorative initials, tailpieces. For the binding: "Legatura romana barocca" plate 66 (diamond stamp), and plate 68 (outer border). One leaf with short closed tear into text (no loss), occasional small stains, creases, or other trivial defects, but the text clean, fresh, and mostly rather bright; upper board of first volume with small patch of lost patina from insect activity, tiny wormhole to a couple of joints, a breath of rubbing to extremities, but AN EXTRAORDINARILY FINE SET OF BINDINGS, GLOWING WITH GILT and showing only negligible signs of wear.
This is a lovely example of the celebrated work produced in the heyday of the bindery operated by Gregorio and Giovanni Andreoli, dubbed the "Rospigliosi Bindery" by Hobson because it was the favored atelier of Cardinal Giulio Rospigliosi (1600-69), later Pope Clement IX. In addition to work done for Rospigliosi and other princes of the Church, the Andreolis bound books for merchant princes like the Medici and Borghese, and for real royalty, notably Queen Christina of Sweden, who called on them to bind books for the library she created at her Roman palazzo. Our volumes were bound for a couple from two prominent Florentine families: the Machiavelli, who gave us the great political philosopher Niccolò, and the Bacelli, a family of skilled stonemasons that achieved sufficient prosperity and social position to receive a coat of arms in the 16th century. Active from about 1630 until the early years of the 18th century, the bindery was at its zenith of production and design in the 1650s through the 1680s. Their symmetrically arranged, tasteful designs featured much ornate tooling and repetition of small stamps. Bindings done for a noble or ecclesiastical client would often have, as here, the patron's coat of arms at center. In 1665, Gregorio was given a lifetime appointment as binder to the Vatican Library. The text here contains the influential devotional works of the beloved Genevan bishop, saint, and doctor of the Church, Francis de Sales (1567-1622, canonized 1665), one of the most persuasive forces of the Counter-Reformation. Emphasizing the love of God rather than the prospect of eternal damnation, Francis wrote "Introduction to the Devout Life," "Treatise on the Love of God," Spiritual Discourses," and "Spiritual Exercises" in vernacular language for a lay audience. It was through these works, all of them included in this set, that he had a great deal of success winning back Protestants to Mother Church. (ST15484a)