Verona: Officina Bodoni, 1972. Limited Edition. Octavo, 9 7/8 x 6 1/2 in (250 x 165 mm); 2 volume set in slipcase. Vol. 1, pp. 280, with 68 hand-colored woodcuts; Vol. 2, pp. 120. Set in Centaur type and printed on hand-made Magnani paper with goose watermark. Original morocco-backed vellum, with strapwork border and title in gilt, t.e.g., remaining uncut; number 146 of 160 sets; text in Latin, Italian and English. Woodcut illustrations by Anna Bramanti after Liberale da Verona, ALL HAND-COLOURED AFTER A COPY OF THE 1479 EDITION IN THE BRITISH MUSEUM BY THE ATELIER DANIEL JACOMET OF PARIS, list of woodcuts loosely inserted.
An exquisite and beautifully executed edition of Aesop's FABLES, richly illustrated with newly-cut wood engravings after a copy of the 1479 edition in the collection of the British Museum whose woodcuts are attributed to Liberale da Verona (1441–1526). The illustrations are beautifully carved and hand-colored with a rich scale of colors and shadings that remind us of illuminated miniatures.
The Latin text comes from the Giovanni Alvise 1479 edition and was translated from the Greek by the Veronese poet Accio Zucco, who possibly also used some earlier medieval translations. Each fable is followed by two sonnets by Zucco: the first tells the story (Sonetto materiale) and the second point the moral of the fable (Sonetto morale). For this edition the Latin and Italian texts were revised by the philiologist Giovanni Battista Pighi.
The second volume contains the William Caxton translation (1484) into English of the first 60 fables. The remaining 6 fables are here translated from Latin by Betty Radice. Prefatory note by Tanya and Hans Schmoller who carried out the revision of the text.
Vol. 1 frontispiece: "THE FABLES OF AESOP. Printed from the Veronese edition of MCCCCLXXIX in Latin verses and the Italian version by Accio Zucco, with the woodcuts newly engraved and coloured after a copy in the British Museum." Vol. 2 frontispiece: "The first three books of CAXTON'S AESOP containting the fables illustrated in the Verona Aesopus of MCCCLXXIX"
Commenting on the making of this edition Giovanni Madersteig wrote: "At the end of the epilogue I examine the different illustrated editions of the fables printed in Italy during the fifteenth century. This comparison proves that the Verona Aesop was the model for all of tehm. Even the better-known Aesop from Naples printed by Tuppo contains quite a number of scenes with the same composition, but in mirror image. The watermark of the goose, which identifies the paper used in the first edition of the Aesop and in other Veronese books as having come from Toscolano, was revived for this and other books printed at the Officina Bodoni." [Mardersteig, 182]
Giovanni Mardersteig, (Weimar, 1892 – Verona 1977), was a printer and typographer who, as head of Officina Bodoni, created books exemplifying the highest standards in the art of printing. The press began in 1922 in Montagnola Switzerland and moved to Verona in 1927. It printed and published some 200 books and pamphlets, including Politian’s Favola d’Orfeo; Shelley’s Epipsychidion, Shakespeare’s Tempest, and Dante’s Vita nuova. There are good collections in many major European and American libraries. The Bodleian Library at Oxford holds a particularly rich collection. Following Mardersteig's death in 1977 his son, Martino Mardersteig, took over and still occasionally used the Officina Bodoni imprint for works he printed on his father's hand-presses.
Item number: 299