RALEIGH (WALTER) TASSO (TORQUATO) Rime et prose del signor Torquato Tasso. Parte terza, WALTER RALEGH'S COPY, Venice, [Vittorio Baldini], appresso Giulio Vasalini, 1584

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Lot 48
RALEIGH (WALTER)
TASSO (TORQUATO) Rime et prose del signor Torquato Tasso. Parte terza, WALTER RALEGH'S COPY, Venice, 1584

Sold for £ 47,562 (US$ 58,176) inc. premium
RALEIGH (WALTER)
TASSO (TORQUATO) Rime et prose... Parte terza. Novamente poste in luce, WALTER RALEIGH'S COPY, signed ("W Ralegh") on the title-page above the woodcut printer's device and with his his motto ("Mediu[m] medijs") at foot, nineteenth century inscription on front free endpaper ("Questo Volume già fu del Cavaliere Gualtero Ralegh, il di cui nome sta scritto nel titolo dalla propria mano"), woodcut initials and tail-pieces, occasional light foxing and browning, later vellum, titled in ink on spine [this edition not in Adams], 12mo, Venice, [Vittorio Baldini], appresso Giulio Vasalini, 1584

Footnotes

  • WALTER RALEIGH'S COPY OF TASSO - A NEWLY-DISCOVERED VOLUME FROM HIS LIBRARY. In a remarkable echo of the occasion twenty-three years ago when volume two of the Ferrara edition appeared for sale in our Phillips rooms, a third volume has come to light, making it a total of seven printed books now known to have survived from Raleigh's library. These include volumes one, two and three of Tasso's Rime et prose, which constitute the only works of literature in the library, the others being on military or historical subjects.

    The publication history of the Rime et prose is quite complex. The Parte prima and Parte seconda were first printed by Aldo Manuzio in 1581 and 1582 while Tasso was imprisoned in the asylum of St Anna, and without his cooperation. Further editions of these two volumes were printed by Vittorio Baldini in Ferrara (1582), and the publisher Giulio Vasalini also had them reprinted in 1583, before adding his own selection of verses and prose for the Parte terza published in Venice in 1583 (a copy of which exists with Tasso's autograph corrections). The present copy is Vasalini's reprint of the following year. Raleigh's copy of the Parte prima (Ferrara, ad instanza di Giulio Vassallini, appresso Vittorio Baldini, 1583) is at the Beinecke Library, Yale (1975 380). Like the present copy, it is inscribed with Raleigh's signature and motto (although the signature has been struck through) and, like this copy, it bears the ownership signature 'L. Berard' (it also has the bookplate of Charles Bruce, Earl of Elgin, 1712). The Parte seconda (Ferrara, G. Vassallini per Vittorio Baldini, 1583), similarly inscribed by Raleigh, was sold at Phillips on 13 November 1997 (lot 351, current whereabouts unknown). This also had an inscription in an Italian nineteenth century hand, but did not bear Berard's signature.

    Raleigh's library is known to have consisted of several hundred books, and he listed over 500 of these in the notebook held in the British Library which he kept while imprisoned in the Tower. The notebook, which was the basis for an article by Walter Oakeshott published in December 1968 ('Sir Walter Ralegh's Library', The Library, 5th Series, vol. 23, no. 4), does not mention any volumes of Tasso and indeed Oakeshott remarks on the absence of poetry. The few volumes of books and manuscripts known to have survived from the library are described on CELM, the online adaptation and extension of Peter Beale's Index of English Literary Manuscripts 1450-1700, where the copies of the Parte prima and Parte seconda now take their place (as RaW 1037 and 1037.5) among the seven printed books.

    "Ralegh's copy of Tasso provides an evocative link between the doomed golden figure of Elizabeth's court - himself a poet of haunting originality and power - and probably the greatest poet of the later Italian Renaissance. The lives of both poets were marked by the most extrordinary swings of fortune. Both spent long years in prison after dazzling careers at court, both having been befriended by patronesses, Ralegh by the Queen, Tasso by the Duchesses Lucrezia and Leonora; and both afterwards enjoyed contemporary fame as poets while languishing in gaol. In fact this particular volume was published while Tasso was imprisoned by the Duke of Mantua in the hospital of St Anna; and it might well have been among the books Ralegh had with him when he in his turn was imprisoned by James I in the tower... Ralegh's ties with the culture of the Italian Renaissance are further exemplified by the volume's ownership inscription with its carefully-formed Italic script, a script which of course derives from Italian Humanist hands and which at the time had still not supplanted the native Secretary script in Britain: elsewhere Ralegh usually employed a mixed, predominantly Italic, hand; although like many of his contemporaries he could write fluent Secretary when occasion served" (Felix Pryor, Phillips sale catalogue, 1997).

    Provenance: Walter Raleigh, signature and motto on title-page; inscription on front free endpaper in an Italian nineteenth century hand attributing the volume to Raleigh; L. Berard, signature on title-page; Frederick William Cosens (1819-1889), noted book collector and wine merchant (whose extensive library included Raleigh manuscripts listed on CELM), armorial bookplate; his sale Sothebys, 22 November 1890; Paulin Martin, Abingdon (doctor and antiquary), bookplate; acquired by the present owner's grandfather.
Contacts
RALEIGH (WALTER) TASSO (TORQUATO) Rime et prose del signor Torquato Tasso. Parte terza, WALTER RALEGH'S COPY, Venice, [Vittorio Baldini], appresso Giulio Vasalini, 1584
RALEIGH (WALTER) TASSO (TORQUATO) Rime et prose del signor Torquato Tasso. Parte terza, WALTER RALEGH'S COPY, Venice, [Vittorio Baldini], appresso Giulio Vasalini, 1584
RALEIGH (WALTER) TASSO (TORQUATO) Rime et prose del signor Torquato Tasso. Parte terza, WALTER RALEGH'S COPY, Venice, [Vittorio Baldini], appresso Giulio Vasalini, 1584
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