GESNER, CONRAD. 1519-1565. Icones avium ordo primus. Zurich: Christopher Froschauer, 1560.

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Lot 196
GESNER, CONRAD. 1519-1565.
Icones avium ordo primus. Zurich: Christopher Froschauer, 1560.

Sold for US$ 7,575 inc. premium
GESNER, CONRAD. 1519-1565.
Icones avium ordo primus. Zurich: Christopher Froschauer, 1560.
BOUND WITH: Icones anumalium quae in historia animalium C. Gesneri describuntur. Zurich: Christopher Froschauer, 1553.
BOUND WITH: Nomenclator aquatilium animantium. Zurich: Christopher Froschauer, 1560.
3 works in one volume. Folio (345 x 225 mm). Numerous woodcut illustrations throughout. Contemporary vellum, spine in 5 compartments, the top with gilt morocco title label. Joints cracking, repairs to vellum at ends of spine, contemporary ink inscriptions to upper cover and title page, browning and a few small tears to page edges.
Provenance: Arcangelo Giani (1552-1623), Florentine theologian (bookplate on dedication page); Pietro Salvetti (ownership inscription on title page in the same hand as the notations below and on cover); Princely house of Liechtenstein (bookplate); H. Bradley Martin (bookplate; his sale, Sotheby's New York, December 12 and 13, 1989, lot 1573).

FIRST EDITION of Icones Animalium and Nomenclator aquatilium; SECOND EDITION of Icones avium. These works were published separately from Gesner's Historia animalium as an atlas of the woodcut illustrations from that work, with abbreviated text. In this form "they are very much more rare than the complete edition" (Wood). Gesner was a true renaissance man, who succumbed to the plague at the age of 49. These works, along with the Historia animalium, were "a great step forward and remained the most authoritative zoological book between Aristotle and the publication of Ray's classification of fauna in 1693" (PMM). The ink inscriptions on the cover and title page, partially illegible, warn the prospective reader that the book is prohibited and required permission to read: "Avvertimento. Non sia nessuno tanto andito di leggere questo libro senza la licensa della Sacra Congretatione di Roma che e' l'autore proibito in Prima Classe e se pare la curiosita' lo spinge fino al guardare le figure si profane, non leggerlo ne procuri la licensa" (Warning. Let no one go so far as to read this book without the license of the Sacred Congregation of Rome, which has forbidden the author in the First Class, and if curiosity compels one to look at the profane figures, do not read it, or procure a license). This refers either to the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition, established by Pope Paul II in 1542, or perhaps the Sacred Congregation of the Index, whose task was to enforce the prohibitions made by Pope Paul IV in 1559 (the Pauline Index). The index was an extension of the inquisition and the effort by the church in Rome to stem the rise of Protestantism, which it considered heresy. Authors were judged by their overall adherence to the church, rather than by individual works, and being a Protestant, Gesner was placed on the prohibited list. That list, along with its successor, the Tridentine Index, put Gesner in good company—alongside Johannes Kepler and Immanuel Kant, among others. Adams 546, 542 and 551; Anker 10; Nissen IVB 352; see PMM 77; Wood p 356.

Saleroom notices

  • Note that the second title in this volume, Icones Avium, is lacking the title page.
Contacts
GESNER, CONRAD. 1519-1565. Icones avium ordo primus. Zurich: Christopher Froschauer, 1560.
GESNER, CONRAD. 1519-1565. Icones avium ordo primus. Zurich: Christopher Froschauer, 1560.
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