4to (binding size 257 x 203 mm). 20 pp. Case binding of ivory watered silk over pasteboards, covers richly embroidered with a variety of gilt metallic appliqués, both covers with outer border of braided or needle-looped silver thread, enclosing a large border of scrolling hatched gilt onlays, ornamented with laurel sprigs, tiny stars and concave gilt roundels creating a jewel-like effect, at each corner a pair of laurel branches built up from individual gilt leaves mounted on sequins, at center of front cover an ornate crowned MT monogram of Maria-Teresa of Austria, at center of back cover a large bouquet with ornamental volute base, pink endpapers (dampstain to upper cover, central bouquet with loss of a star and damage to two others, tear to front endpaper). Provenance: from the collections of the Dukes of Genoa.***
A splendid example of a Piedmontese gilt-embroidered textile binding, on a printed thesis for the laureate or bachelor’s degree in theology, awarded to Vittorio Emanuele Stellardi at the University (Ateneo) of Turin on 14 May 1836. The lavish use of gold in low relief produces appropriately celebratory bling. Wealthy noble families would distribute these slender volumes on the occasion of their offsprings’ graduations. The crowned monogram on the front cover honors Maria Teresa of Austria, Princess of Tuscany, Queen of Sardinia, and mother of Victor-Emmanuel II, the future first King of a united Italy. It is not clear whether the monogram indicates that this was a presentation copy to the Princess, or whether the bindings of all copies of this privately printed thesis would have been similarly decorated.
An embroidered Piedmontese binding with an identically formed monogram, held by the Bibliothèque municipale de Lyon, is reproduced in the exhibit catalogue Livres en broderie (Paris, BnF, 1995), no. 190. The present book was exhibited in Turin in 1998: cf. Francesco Malaguzzi, Legature romantiche piemontese: legature del periodo romantico in raccolte private no. 57, and p. 29. Item #4043