25 July 2013

600 Years of Italian Books Exhibition, University of Melbourne

The latest exhibition in the Baillieu Library, University of Melbourne, is ‘Libri: Six Centuries of Italian Books from the Baillieu Library’s Special Collections’. The display, on view in the Leigh Scott Gallery, is in connection with Melbourne Rare Book Week, and highlights the university’s recent acquisition of the first edition of Aldus Manutius’s typographical masterpiece, the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (Venice, 1499), which takes centre stage.

Polia and Poliphilo (centre) enter the Garden of Venus (Chap. 24)

Among the fifty-two items on display are: an illuminated fourteenth-century Gradual leaf attributed to a follower of the Perugian artist Matteo di Ser Cambio, early editions of works by Machiavelli, Palladio, Vasari and Leonardo da Vinci, and later texts by such authors as Alessandro Manzoni, Italo Svevo and Primo Levi, and the futurists F. T. Marinetti and Bruno Munari. Case themes cover politics, literature and the arts, travel, humanism and futurism, and Italians living in Australia, such as the Melbourne-based visual artists Bruno Leti and Angela Cavalieri, whose respective works Imago Mundi (2002; with text by Alan Loney) and Inri (2005) are on display.

An Italian-themed exhibition would not be complete without a cookbook, in this case a seventeenth-century edition of the great Renaissance chef Bartolomeo Scappi's Opera dell'arte del cucinare (Venice, 1610)

It would be remiss (negligente is more appropriate) of me to write a post about an exhibition of Italian books and not note that 2013 marks the 500th anniversary of Machiavelli's The Prince and the 700th anniversary of the birth of Giovanni Boccaccio, perhaps best known for his allegorical work The Decameron

Books relating to both authors are on display, such as Frederick the Great's Examen du Prince de Machiavel (The Hague, 1741), an Italian edition of The Prince (Milan, 1928) with a preface by Benito Mussolini, a sixteenth-century edition of Boccaccio's mythography La geneologia de gli dei de gentili (Venice, 1569), in which he attempts to untangle the genealogy of the Greek and Roman pantheons, and J. M. Rigg's translation of The Decameron, published in Sydney by Angus and Robertson in 1941.

The exhibition runs until 15 September, after which the gallery will be closed for redevelopment. Follow this link to view a selection of the exhibits.

No comments:

Post a Comment