Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - February - 2012 Issue

Two Renaissance Masterpieces from Martayan Lan

Lantwomaster

Two Renaissance masterpieces.

Once in a while, we come across a single item sale. Martayan Lan has not issued such a catalogue, but it has printed the next best thing: Two Masterpieces of Renaissance Book Art. These are two works that cross the boundaries between architecture and science, and art. One is a scientific and mathematical presentation, the other a work of romantic fiction. Nevertheless, both are greatly focused on architecture, and each is most notable as great works of book art. One qualifies as an item of incunabula, the other just misses. Each is unquestionably one of the great printed works of five centuries ago.

First we have Divina Proportione, by Luca Paciola, published in 1509. The author was a mathematician, and in the world he saw mathematical proportions everywhere, so much so that he considered them divine (hence the book's title). His view was that proportional forms were shared by many things, from the human body to architecture to even printed letters. Paciola expands on Vitruvius' claim that the human form fit perfectly into a square and circle (the two most perfect geometric shapes), to show that the letters of the Roman alphabet did the same. He provides the illustrations to prove his point.

However, what makes many of the illustrations in this book of greatest significance, beyond their artistic appeal, is the source. Paciola was a good friend of Leonardo Da Vinci, and 61 of the illustrations come from the master's hand. This is the first collection of drawings by Da Vinci to make it to print, and the only set published during his lifetime.

This copy is bound in 19th century red morocco. It contains the ex-libris bookplate of Robert Hoe. That is appropriate for a fine printing, as Hoe made his fortune in the printing press business during the 19th century. When his collection was auctioned after his death, it was by far the most valuable American book collection ever to come to sale.

The second item offered is Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, by Francesco Colonna. The author's name is not given, but has been revealed through acrostic reading of the first letters of the chapters that spell out Friar Colonna's name (a few scholars have attributed authorship to others). This book was published by Aldus Manutius in 1499, the only illustrated book produced by Aldus.

The book is a love story, erotic for its era, about Poliphilo's search for his true love, Polia. His searches take him to many architectural wonders, which is why this is also an architectural book. However, it is not the storyline for which it is most noted. Martayan Lan points out, “The text, however, has traditionally taken a back seat to the illustrations...” The artist is even less established than the author, completely unknown. Nevertheless, it is the over 150 woodcut illustrations that make this, “the most celebrated illustrated book of the Italian Renaissance.”

Prices for these two books are available on request.

You can reach Martayan Lan at 212-308-0018 or info@martayanlan.com. Their website is www.martayanlan.com.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Arader Galleries<br>April Auction<br>April 4, 2020</b>
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> MITCHELL, John (1711-1768). A Map of the British and French Dominions in North America. Copperplate engraving with original hand color. London, 1755. $250,000 to $350,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> AUDUBON, John James (1785 - 1851). Brown Pelican (Standing), Plate 251. Aquatint engraving with original hand color. London, 1827-1838. $175,000 to $225,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> AUDUBON, John James (1785 - 1851). Fish Hawk or Osprey, Plate 81. Aquatint engraving with original hand color. London: 1827-1838. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <center><b>Arader Galleries<br>April Auction<br>April 4, 2020</b>
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> GONZALES DE MENDOZA, Juan (1545 - 1618). <i>The Historie of the great and mightie kingdome of China…</i> London, 1588. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> VERBIEST, Ferdinand (1623-1688). [World Map] Kun-Yu Ch'uan-Tu. Engraved twelve sheet map with vertical sections joined to form six sheets. Korea, Seoul, c. 1860. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> SANGGI, Chong (1678-1752). Korean Atlas. Manuscript map on mulberry bark paper. C. 1750-1790. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <center><b>Arader Galleries<br>April Auction<br>April 4, 2020</b>
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> AUDUBON, John James (1785 - 1851). Ivory-billed Woodpecker, Plate 66. Aquatint engraving with original hand color. London, 1827-1838. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> AKERMAN, Anders (1721-1778). & AKREL, Frederik (1779-1868). Pair of Celestial and Terrestrial Globes. Stockholm, c. 1800. 23 inch diameter, each. $60,000 to $100,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> BENNETT, Lieut. William Pyt (d. in action, 1916). AN IMPORTANT AND APPARENTLY UNPUBLISHED SERIES OF GELATIN SILVER PHOTOGRAPHS OF LHASA AND TIBET TAKEN DURING THE CELEBRATED YOUNGHUSBAND MISSION OF 1904. $60,000 to $80,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Abraham Lincoln, <i>Emancipation Proclamation by the President of the United States,</i> pamphlet, 1862. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the distinguished Ruby-Jackson family, Portland, Maine, 1853-1961. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens & the persons who served him, 1866-1907. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Autograph book with inscriptions by orators Moses Roper & Peter Williams, 1821-54. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Archive of letters, postcards, and greeting cards sent by Romare Bearden, 1949-87. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b><br>E. Simms Campbell, <i>A Night-Club Map of Harlem,</i> in inaugural issue of Manhattan, 1933. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Papers of the comedian Nipsey Russell, including a letter from MLK, 1929-2000. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Early German-American anti-slavery broadside, <i>Sclaven-Handel,</i> Philadelphia, 1794. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Edmonia Lewis, prominent sculptor, carte-de-visite by Henry Rocher, c. 1866-71. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b><br><i>The Black Panther: Black Community News Service,</i> 44 issues, San Francisco, 1967-1971. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Withers, <i>I Am A Man, Sanitation Workers Strike,</i> silver print, 1968. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> <i>March For Freedom Now!,</i> poster for the 1960 Republican Convention. $4,000 to $6,000.

Review Search

Archived Reviews

Ask Questions