Venice, [G. Bettoni for Alvise Francesco Mocenigo at the Tipografia Alvisopoli] [24 December 1815 but 2 January 1816].
Folio (300 x 212 mm.). 45, p. PRINTED ON HEAVY BLUE PAPER, etched portrait (46 x 36 mm.) of Bianca Cappello on the title based on a contemporary carved ivory likeness.
Original tan pastepaper over boards, lighter blue endleaves, uncut and partly unopened.
Only Edition: a lover’s tale. The bibliophile Tomitano tells the story of the highborn Venetian, Bianca Cappello (1548 -87), who fled to Florence at age fifteen to marry a wayward banking clerk, Pietro Buonaventuri. The demand to Cosimo de’ Medici for her return to Venice drew the attention of his son Francesco (1541-87). He sanctioned her marriage to Pietro in December of 1563, and within a few months he and Bianca had a daughter. They remained lovers during his marriage to Joanna of Austria, on whose death Francesco wed Bianca and raised her to Grand Duchess of Tuscany. They died of malaria within a few hours of one another in October 1587. The narrative is told without interruption. The endnotes fill in the bibliographic details and sources.
The colophon states one hundred octavo copies were printed, and sixteen variously on vellum, on “French colored paper”(?), “silk paper”(?) and on blue paper (as here). The same setting of type — appropriate for a traditional octavo — was used for all issues with the result that the present large paper example has the remarkable ratio of type-area to leaf-size of 1:8.3 (the custom is 2:3).
The book was printed at what began in 1810/11 as the private press of Count Alvise Mocenigo in his planned “ideal city” of Alvisopoli. By early 1815 the business had moved to Venice and come under the direction of the bibliographer Bartolommeo Gamba, who made it famous for its typography and its publishing program of classical Italian literature. Completed 24 December 1815, this book was almost certainly in press, when Francis I Emperor of Austria visited the shop. The two examples I have located in the U.S. are the octavo issue. In excellent condition — two quires are unopened and all leaves uncut; armorial bookplate of industrialist, politician and collector Piero Ginori Conti, Prince of Trevignano (1865-1939).
¶Ungherini, Manuel de bibliographie…des femmes célèbres II: 85 “in 8° (?)”; Levati, Dizionario biografico cronologico delle donne illustri I: 151-53; Cicogna, Saggio di bibliografia veneziana 2084 (8vo); Passano, I Novellieri italiani in prosa I: 755-6 (records the five issues); Gamba, Delle novelle italiane in prosa bibliografia 276 (“in 8.vo”); for the press see Fumagalli’s Lexicon typographicum italiæ 9.