¶ Sánchez de Arévalo — Speculum vitae humanae (c. 1476)

May 1, 2015


Sánchez de Arévalo, Rodrigo [Rodericus Zamorensis]. Speculum vitae humanae. Trans. Heinrich Steinhöwel. [Augsburg: Günther Zainer, c. 1476.]

Illustrated. Lengthy note by Morris (quoted below) on front pastedown; Morris’s signature, address, and date (1 August 1890); bibliographical note by Sydney Cockerell.

Morris’s note: “A vernacular edition of one of the most popular of mediaeval books. Its matter (the contrast of the good and the bad side of all degrees and careers) makes a good subject for the illustrator, who has made the most of the opportunity; and, indeed, I should call this the best of the Augsburg picture-books, the greater number of the cuts being admirably designed by Günther Zainer’s second artist, who seems to have done those to the Holy Child Simon (a very rare little book, a copy of which is in the British Museum) and the Game of the Chess, both printed by Zainer. A genealogy of the House of Hapsburg precedes the text, and is illustrated by a cut of a genealogical tree of figures and leafage; it is an unsurpassable ornamental work of its kind, both as to figures and scroll work, and is very well cut, as indeed are the pictures to the book generally, though some are spoiled in the cutting. The pictures are almost entirely outlines, only enough shading being used to explain and clear up the design; throughout much use is made of pure black spaces, as in pouches, girdles, etc., which are very serviceable in giving force and brightness to the cuts. These cuts, together with the beautiful Augsburg blooming-letters, and Günther Zainer’s bold and handsome second gothic type, make up as good ornamental pages as are to be found in all typography. This is a fine untouched copy in its original stamped pigskin binding, lacking nothing but some of its metals.”

Provenance: Landshut (Bavaria), Franciscans (?). — Georg Kloss. — Kloss sale, Sotheby, 7 May 1835. — Sotheran catalogue 496, 23 July 1890, no. 546 (purchased by Morris for 2 guineas). — Morris. — Richard Bennett. — J. Pierpont Morgan. — Morgan Library (ChL300).

References: Ellis valuation, fol. 2b , no. 23 (£30). —ISTC (ir00231000). —Morgan Catalogue 1, no. 139. — MS catalogue (2), no. 892, p. 80 (with one X beside the title).

Digital version: BSB.


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