4to (198 x 140 mm). , “176” [i.e., 276] pp. Engraved allegorical title and 21 full-page engravings, woodcut head- and tailpieces, initials, and printer’s device at end. Light foxing and staining, title-leaf and its conjugate discreetly reinforced at gutter, a few small marginal tears or small wormholes, lower forecorners of ff. Q4, R1 and R2 clipped, catching extreme outer corner of engraving on R2v. Contemporary flexible parchment, manuscript title on spine, lower edge ink-lettered “PR”; front endleaves and lower pastedown renewed. ***
Rare edition of an illustrated guide to the mysteries of the rosary, first printed in 1573 at the same press. The text, compiled by Andrea Giannetti (or Zannetti, d. 1575) from the spiritual writings of the Spanish Dominican, principally his Libro de la oracion y meditacion (1st ed. 1554), is a series of meditations on the 15 mysteries, divided into the traditional three sections of the joyful, sorrowful and glorious rosaries (gaudioso, doloroso, glorioso), devoted respectively to the Annunciation, Nativity and childhood of Christ; the Passion; and the Resurrection, Assumption, Pentecost and Coronation of the Virgin. The use of narrative images to assist meditation on the rosary was already well established. Here, each of the three sections is illustrated with five large engravings, one for each mystery, and with a preliminary allegorical engraving of a rosebush, with a central branch-enclosed hollow enclosing an emblem of the main theme (respectively the Madonna with the Child, the Pietà, and the Virgin Crowned), and five large five-petaled roses containing medallions holding miniature versions of each of the scenes shown in the full-page engravings. Of the three further engravings, in the preliminary and final sections (the latter containing various prayers), one shows the author preaching to three eminences, identified by Ruth Mortimer as Pope Gregory XIII, the Emperor Maximilian II, and Philip II of Spain, but used in various works for different purposes.
The illustrations’ echo effect, reinforcing the numerical satisfactions of reciting the rosary, was certainly an element in the book’s popularity. The sixteenth century had witnessed the flourishing of rosary confraternities, which had first appeared in the 1480s, and in 1569 Pope Pius V had consecrated the rosary as an element of Catholic religious practice with the bull Consueverunt Romani Pontifices. This book thus reflected a contemporary fascination with the rosary; it may also itself have contributed to popular dissemination of the fifteen mysteries of the rosary, which seem to have originated with the 15th-century theologian Alanus de Rupe. ICCU records 24 editions printed in Italy from 1573 to 1607 (a supposed 1572 edition mentioned by Mortimer appears to be a ghost). The present edition reprints de Angelis’ previous edition, of 1573, the earliest recorded of this text, and it appears to use the same engravings. These have been attributed to the Mantuan engraver Adamo Scultori (1530-1585), whose signature appears in the engraved frontispiece of the 1573 edition, within the cartouche that is filled here by the Cavalieri and Oderico imprint. The same engravings or close copies, or possibly other versions based on the same model, appeared in other publications of the prolific Counter-Reformation print publisher and engraver Giovanni Battista de Cavalieri, and are often attributed to him, probably also on ambiguous grounds, given his habit of recutting and reusing older plates.
A handful of smaller format editions appeared in Venice and Brescia in 1574-1577. In 1578, a quarto format edition was published in Venice by Giovanni Varisco, illustrated in part with the same copperplates as in the De Angelis editions, by then quite worn.
OCLC locates North American copies of this edition at the National Gallery of Art and the Newberry. EDIT-16 records under a separate number (CNCE 78575) a single copy (at the Biblioteca comunale Ariostea - Ferrara) of what appears to be a different issue of this 1576 edition, without the engraved title, or in which the title does not have the 1577 imprint. EDIT-16 CNCE 41981; USTC 838985; cf. Mortimer, Italian 218 (1573 edition). Item #4028