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Lot 0003
Palladius (Rutilius Taurus) De re rustica (Italian), manuscript on paper, complete with 46 leaves, four quires, collation: 1/16, 2/16, 3/12, 4/4, blanks: 1/1v, 4/2v, 4/3, 4/4, inked foliation and modern pencilled foliation at outer upper margin of leaves 1-14, text block: two columns (each 214 x 72 mm.), c. 44-45 lines, catchwords written in the middle of verso of last leaf of each quire, text written in brown ink, by a single Italian cursive hand, headings in reddish brown ink, blank spaces for capitals at beginning of each chapter, with guide letters written in blank space between columns, paper watermarked with tulip and scissors (these frequently found in paper from various cities of Central Italy), bound with a leaf from a vellum manuscript, generally in good condition, upper corners of first 20 leaves restored with loss of some words, blank lower corners of first 6 and last 4 leaves restored without any loss, some spots and water-stains, more prominent in some leaves but not affecting legibility of text, disbound but 3 leather thongs preserved, 4to (292 x 216mm.), Central Italy, possibly Tuscany, [early 15th century].

⁂ inc. Qui chomincia el libro di palladio rutilio tauro Emiliano homo chiarissimo de ogni lauorio di terra (text inc.: [P]arte di prudentia e di sauere estimare chie la persona di co lui tu parli... )

expl. Sparte e quel vime[o] ouero erba si fa[n]no le sporte.

Highly interesting 15th-century manuscript containing the complete text of the translation into Italian vernacular of Palladius' Opus agriculturae. The popularity of the treatise is demonstrated not only by the wide manuscript circulation of its Latin text, but also by the translations made in Italy and Spain in the 14th century, and in Middle English in the 15th: Palladius was the only one of the four Roman authorities on agriculture - the other three being Cato the Elder, Columella, and Varro - to be rendered into vernacular languages in the late Middle Ages. The 14th century saw three different anonymous translations of the work produced in Italy, and more particularly in Tuscany, the oldest of which is the MS Ricc. 2238 in Biblioteca Riccardiana in Florence. This version is attributed by some scholars to the Florentine notary Andrea Lancia (c.1280-1360), the well-known author of the so-called Ottimo Commento to Dante's Comedy. It differs from the version in Italian vernacular which first appeared in print in Siena in 1526 (see lot 30), and was published only in 1810, edited by Paolo Zanotti.

The Rothamsted Italian Palladius is one of the eleven other surviving manuscripts which belong to this earliest textual tradition (we do not include the manuscript recorded in the Biblioteca Marciana in Venice, the MS Ital.XI.100.6966, an 18th-century copy of the Riccardianus). The reading of the manuscript offerred here is in fact very close to the Riccardianus, with only a few orthographic variants, or changes of word order.

A further important point lies in the fact that the anonymous scribe has copied a poetic composition, simply entitled Sonetto, in praise of the Roman writer and his treatise, on the recto of the last leaf, after the explicit of Palladius's text. This sonnet begins with the line Io sono Palladio della agricoltura, and circulated throughout the 16th century under the name of the satirical 15th-century Florentine poet Giovanni di Domenico, better known as Burchiello (1404-1449), although in a version in which the last three verses have been modified. The sonnet was also included in the 18th-century edition of Burchiello's poems, an attribution which is however firmly contradicted by chronological evidence, it having been already included in the 14th-century Riccardianus.

Until now, the poem Io sono Palladio della agricoltura was included in only three other Palladius manuscripts: as well as the aforementioned Riccardianus 2238, two other manuscripts in the Biblioteca Laurenziana in Florence (MSS Plut. 43.28 and Segni 12): this feature would strongly suggest that the Rothamsted Italian Palladius manuscript was produced in Tuscany, in or near Florence.

Provenance: bought from the booksellers Davis & Orioli, for £20. A page from a sale catalogue loosely inserted, describes the manuscript (lot 33).

Rothamsted acquisition date 1937.

Literature: N.R. Ker, Medieval Manuscripts in British libraries. V. Indexes and Addenda, edited by I.C. Cunningham and A.G. Watson, Oxford, 2002, p. 13; R.H. Rodgers, "Palladius", in Catalogus Translationum Commentariorum III, pp. 195-199; Volgarizzamento di Palladio. Testo di lingua la prima volta stampato, ed. by P. Zanotti, Verona 1810; M. Barbi, La cultura e l'uso dei fiori in Palladio secondo il volgarizzamento di Andrea Lancia, Firenze 1897; C. Marchesi, "Di alcuni volgarizzamenti toscani in codici fiorentini", Studj Romanzi» 5 (1907), pp. 123-236; M. Morpurgo, Supplemento a Le opere volgari a stampa dei secoli XIII and XIV indicate e descritte da F. Zambrini, Bologna 1929, p. 74; Incipitario unificato della poesia italiana (IUPI), Modena 1988, I, p. 794; G. Frosini, Il cibo e i signori: la mensa dei priori di Firenze nel quinto decennio del sec. XIV, Firenze 1993, pp. 48-49; I sonetti del Burchiello. Edizione critica della vulgata quattrocentesca a cura di M. Zaccarello, Bologna 2000, pp. xxxii-xxxiii, 277; V. Nieri, "Sulla terza versione di Palladio volgare. Il codice Lucca, Biblioteca Statale, 1293", Studi di filologia italiana 71 (2013), pp. 341-346.

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Palladius (Rutilius Taurus) De re rustica (Italian),

Estimate £8,000 - £12,000
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London, UK
Auction Curated By:
Rupert Powell
International Head of Books and Works on Paper
Justin Phillips
Early and Continental Printing