[Bound with:] Odi in occasione della Festa Nazionale che si celebra in Milano Il giorno 26 Giugno 1803. Anno II. delle Republica Italiana. [Milan, 1803].
4to (272 x 214 mm). Giudizio:  leaves, the last blank. Title and text in Italian and French on facing pages. Odi: 15 pp. Half-title. Printed on thick paper (grand papier), the Odi on a different, still heavier paper. Occasional light foxing. Embroidered binding of blue silk over thin pasteboards, both covers with a border of laurel branches with leaves of embroidered white thread, the stems of braided gray and white thread, with four four-petalled blossoms of couched silver thread, at center of each cover a beribboned wreath of a laurel and pine branch enclosing the scales of justice and a sword overlaid by an olive branch, embroidered in couched gold and silver thread, purl, brown thread and touches of yellow thread, backstrip and covers panelled in silver-gray thread, marbled paper pastedowns; both covers with loss to border threads, more severe on upper cover, small losses to silk at head and tail of spine. Provenance: Charles van der Elst, bookplate, sale, Sotheby’s Monaco, 13 May 1985, lot 113; Fondation Napoléon, France.***
Only Edition, bound in silk for presentation, of a libretto and program for an opera (or “cantata” with ballet) performed at La Scala in honor of the First Consul, with music by Vincenzo Federici, and choreography by Filippo Beretti. The opera brings together semi-legendary rulers of antiquity: representing Napoleon (with no intended irony) is Numa Pompilius, the peace-loving second king of Rome, who is contrasted with the bellicose Alexander the Great and Caesar. Also part of the action is a contemporary figure, General Desaix, the martyred victor of the battle of Marengo. A complete list of the musicians, singers, and dancers occupies the first 10 pages. Ceretti’s Italian verse text is printed on the versos with a French prose translation on facing rectos. The Odi (often catalogued separately), which are only in Italian, contain three odes in honor of the battle of Marengo (the subject of intense Bonapartist propaganda in the previous three years), by Lodovico Savioli, V. Monti and Luigi Lamberti.
A reliure parlante, with its central emblem of justice and peace, the finely embroidered binding signals that this copy was reserved for or presented to a personage of rank, and indeed, two other copies are known in similar bindings: one is in beige silk with the same decoration, and one is a similar but even more luxurious binding in white satin with the same central justice motif, held by the BnF. Unfortunately, none of the recipients of these copies are known. The present copy was exhibited at the Bibliothèque nationale de France in 1995 and is reproduced in the catalogue, Livres en broderie, no. 102 (the white silk binding is no. 101). It seems to have been carelessly handled since that time, as the back cover (shown in the catalogue) is now more worn. It remains a large and splendid example of embroidered bibliopegy. Item #4063