With two woodcuts by Albrecht Dürer

Celtis, Conrad. Quatuor libri amorum secundum quatuor latera Germaniae [...].

Nuremberg, Sodalitas Celtica, 5 April 1502.

4to (193 x 252 mm). (8), X-LXXIII, (46 [instead of 49]) ff. With 9 full-page (instead of 11 full-page and 1 double-page-sized) woodcuts (2 by Albrecht Dürer) and small printer's device, all in contemporary hand colour. Later brown leather over wooden boards, using parts of the original blind-and gold-tooled binding. Upper cover has giltstamped title "Conrad Cel. Amores / Norimb. Scrip.".


Rare first edition of one of the finest and most interesting German woodcut books of its age. "Als Frucht der Erlebnisse während der zehnjährigen Wanderungen 1487/97 durch Deutschland erschien 1502 das Kaiser Maximilian I. gewidmete lyrische Hauptwerk des Celtis, 'Quatuor libri Amorum secundum quattuor latera Germaniae': vier kleine in sich geschlossene lyrische Liebesromane, zyklisch verbunden in architektonisch-gesetzmäßigem Aufbau, bebildert mit Holzschnitten Dürers und aus der Schule Michael Wolgemuts [...] Celtis gilt als der deutsche Erzhumanist. Er war die stärkste poetische Begabung der humanistischen Bewegung um 1500" (NDB III, 182f.).

The "Amores" are the second of only two verified products of the "Sodalitas Celtica", the society founded by Celtis with the support of Willibald Pirckheimer (the printer remains unidentified). Two of the woodcuts are by Dürer: an allegory of Philosophy and the dedication (showng Celtis presenting the book to the emperor). "Die Seltenheit erhaltener Exemplare wie das Fehlen eines Faksimiles erklären, warum die 'Amores' als herausragendes Werk der Buchkunst im Sinne der Dürerschen 'Wiedererwachung' erst in neuerer Zeit wirklich gewürdigt worden sind" (Schoch/M./Sch.). Occasionally even the title woodcut has been ascribed to Dürer; the remaining, somewhat less delicate but no less impressive woodcuts are variously attributed to the workshops of Wolgemut, both Peter Vischers, Hans Süss von Kulmbach, or simply a "Celtis master".

Wants fol. IX (b1) with the Elegia prima (replaced by a blank leaf), the unnumbered bifolium between m2 and m3 with a view of Nuremberg after Schedel and the city's three coats of arms on the reverse, and the final leaf r6 with a full-page woodcut of Daphne and Apollo (replaced by a blank leaf). The contained woodcuts are all in especially fine contemporary colour, as are the colophon and printer's device. Printed on strong, very wide-margined laid paper. A few leaves near the end show light waterstains in the margins, otherwise a nearly spotless copy. Title has old stamp "EB"; lower corner remargined with slight loss to woodcut; fols. p8r and r5v also stamped in the blank margin. Insignificant worming to gutter of final gatherings.

The present variant of the first quire departs in several details from the copy of Hartmann Schedel kept at the BSB in Munich: a3r, headline "Ad Maxmil. Regem" (BSB: "Ad Maxmyl. Regem:"); a4v, headline: "Panegyri: Pars Prima" (BSB: "Panegyr. Prima Pars"); a5v, first line: "interuisse carmia & quae castas inoce[n]tu[m] adolesce[n]tiu[m]" (BSB: "centuadolesce[n]tiu[m] aures ledat & iebriet. Fatebimur"), etc. The present variant corresponds to the copy in the SSB Augsburg, formerly owned by Daniel Carnerius.

Provenance: Hartung & Karl, sale 53 (1986), lot 617.


VD 16, C 1911. IA 135.114. Brunet I, 1730 & Suppl. I, 231. Dodgson I, 264 & 279ff. Ebert 3903. Graesse II, 101. Meder 244f. Murray 106. Muther 459 & 835. Panzer VII, 441, 17. Proctor 11029. Reske/Benzing 660. Schoch/M./Sch. 269. Strauss 66-68. Not in Adams.

Stock Code: BN#51001 Tags: , ,