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First illustrated edition of the only architectural treatise to survive from classical antiquity

Vitruvius Pollio, Marcus. [De architectura libri decem].

(Venice, Giovanni Tacuino, 22 May 1511).

Folio (232 x 323 mm). (4), 110, (9) ff., final blank. Four-piece woodcut title-border with dolphins and 136 woodcut illustrations and diagrams most within a double frame. Outline initials within a double frame; woodcut orb and cross device on final page. Modern full vellum.

The first illustrated edition of the only architectural treatise to survive from classical antiquity, considered the supreme authority by Italian Renaissance architects: the single most influential work for the later development of European architecture. The previous three editions contain diagrams only, making this the first to include non-schematic illustrations. The woodcuts depict ornaments, plans, elevations, proportions of the human body, heating systems, machinery, a ship with an odometer and siege machines, among other subjects. The title border with dolphins is itself "one of the most influential pieces of ornamentation of the sixteenth century" (Mortimer). The 1511 edition is also the first to be edited by Fra Giovanni Giocondo (1433-1515), a working architect, as well as an editor for the Aldine Press and an authority on classical inscriptions. During the last year of his life he collaborated with Raphael and Sangallo on St. Peter's Basilica after Bramante's death in 1514.

Title page remargined along gutter and fore-edge (no loss to text, but possibly supplied from another copy); some browning and faint waterstaining. Leaves G8 and K1 torn and repaired, B1-8 bound out of sequence. Still a good copy of a rare and important edition.


Adams V 902. Fowler 393. Kat. der Ornamentstichslg. Berlin 1798. Sander 7694. Millard Italian 156. Mortimer Italian 543. Essling 1702. Norman 2157. Sander 7694. Cicognara 696. RIBA 3491. Cf. PMM 26.