THE FAMOUS AND VANISHINGLY RARE 1503 FIRST EDITION OF ‘LE LIVRE DES PROUFFITZ CHAMPESTRES ET RURAULX,’ (‘Ruralia Commonda’) BY PIETRO DE CRESCENZI (Petrus de Crescentiis), printed in folio in gothic type at Paris by Thomas du Guernier for Jacques Huguetan. BNF gives a date of 1503 for this edition, while USTC gives a date of 1505 – in either case it is the first edition of this famous Renaissance translation.
WONDERFULLY ILLUSTRATED BY 12 BEAUTIFUL WOODCUTS, INCLUDING THE GREAT FOUR-PANEL, FULL-PAGE WOODCUT, as well as fine hunting and viticultural scenes.
CONSIDERED THE MOST IMPORTANT SOURCE FOR MEDIEVAL AND EARLY MODERN PRACTICES OF AGRICULTURE, HORTICULTURE, VITICULTURE, WINE-MAKING, ARBORICULTURE, ANIMAL HUSBANDRY AND SIMILAR SUBJECTS.
THIS IS THE FIRST EDITION OF WHAT BECAME THE STANDARD RENAISSANCE FRENCH TRANSLATION OF CRESCENZI.
ALL LATE 15TH AND EARLY 16TH CENTURY FRENCH EDITIONS OF CRESCENZI ARE FAMOUS FOR THEIR EXTREME RARITY (even until the 1530s) AND THEIR EXTRAORDINARY WOODCUTS.
WE CAN TRACE NO EXAMPLE OF THIS FIRST EDITION IN THE 1945-2017 AUCTION RECORD, AND THERE IS NO OTHER EXAMPLE OF ANY EARLY FRENCH EDITION ON THE MARKET AT PRESENT.
The full title reads as follows:
“Le Livre des prouffitz cha[m]pesters Et ruraulx toucha[n]t le labour des champs edifices de maisons puys et cysternes compose par maistre Pierre des crescens bourgeois de boulongne la grasse Contenant la vertu des plantes herbes bestes et autres choses moust utilles & prouffitables a toutes gens / Et de plusieurs nom-me le mesnaiger nouvellement corrige et imprime en paris pour Jaques Huguetan marchant libraire de lyon. / Et en trouvera len a vendre a Paris a lymage nostre dam deudt saint Benoist en la rue Saint iaques. Et a lyon en la rue merciere en sa maison dudit Jaques Huguetan.”
The colophon reads as follows:
“Cy fine ce presa[n]t livre intitule des prouffitz champestres & ruraulx Compise par maistre pierre des crescens bourgeois de boulo[n]gne la grasse. Et imprime a paris Par maistre Thomas du guernier Demourant a la grant rue de la herpe devant la rue de sa per cheminerie. Pour honorable ho[m]me. Jaques Huguetan. Marchant. Lybrayre demoura[n] a Lyo[n] a la rue merciere. Du a la grant sainct iaques a Paris deva[n]t Sainct Benoist”
PROVENANCE: 1. The Rothamstead Collection of the Lawes Agricultural Library, assembled primarily by Sir John Russell during the 1920s and 1930s (though founded in 1843).
OF PIETRO DE’CRESCENZI
Pietro de' Crescenzi (c. 1230/35 – c. 1320), Latin: 'Petrus de Crescentiis', was a Bolognese jurist, now remembered for his writings on horticulture and agriculture, the ‘Ruralia Commoda.’
He was educated at the University of Bologna in logic, medicine, the natural sciences and law, but did not take his doctorate. Crescenzi practiced as a lawyer and judge from about 1269 until 1299, travelling widely in Italy in the course of his work. In January 1274 he married Geraldina de' Castagnoli, with whom he had at least five children. She died in or shortly after December 1287. In January 1289 he married Antonia de' Nascentori, with whom he also had several children.
After his retirement in 1298 he divided his time between Bologna and his country estate, the Villa dell'Olmo outside the walls of Bologna. During this time he wrote the Ruralia commoda, an agricultural treatise based largely on classical and medieval sources, as well as his own experience as a landowner. It is not known when de' Crescenzi died. His last will is dated 23 June 1320; a legal document dated 25 February 1321 describes him as dead, at the age of almost ninety.
The Ruralia commoda, sometimes known as the Liber ruralium commodorum ("book of rural benefits"), was completed some time between 1304 and 1309, and was dedicated to Charles II of Naples. King Charles V of France ordered a French translation in 1373. After circulating in numerous manuscript copies, Crescenzi's treatise became the first printed modern text on agriculture when it was published in Augsburg by Johann Schüssler in 1471.
The structure and content of the Ruralia commoda is substantially based on the De re rustica of Lucius Junius Moderatus Columella, written in the first century AD, even though this work was not available to de' Crescenzi, and was known only in fragments until a complete version was discovered in a monastery library by Poggio Bracciolini during the Council of Constance, between 1414 and 1418. While de' Crescenzi cites Columella twelve times, all the citations are indirect, and taken from the Opus agriculturae of Rutilius Taurus Aemilianus Palladius. Like the De re rustica of Columella, the Ruralia commoda is divided into 12 parts:
1. Siting and layout of a manor, villa or farm, considering climate, winds, and water supply; also the duties of the head of the estate
2. Botanical properties of plants and horticultural techniques
3. Agriculture of cereals and building of a granary
4. Vines and winemaking
5. Arboriculture—trees useful for food and medicine
5. Horticulture—plants useful for food and medicine
6. Management of meadows and woodland
7. Pleasure gardens
8. Animal husbandry and bee keeping
9. Hunting and fishing
10. General summary
11. Monthly calendar of tasks
THE VOLUME IS IN ABOUT VERY GOOD CONDITION. The leaves are generally quite clean and fairly bright, with clear print and ample margins throughout. There is some scattered marginal foxing; there are also a few scattered wormholes affecting a letter or two but never affecting the sense (there is one instance upon the penultimate leaf where most of a single word is lost). The final third of the volume shows a light dampstain extending from the upper edge and gutter margin; this is generally unobtrusive but becomes notable in the final gathering (though never affecting legibility or the integrity of the paper). Leaf a8 is remargined, but without affecting the text or the woodcut.
THE VOLUME IS COMPLETE SAVE THE GENERAL TITLE, WHICH IS PRESENT IN EXCELLENT FACSIMILE. It is also likely that q1 and the final leaf (neither containing woodcuts) are in similarly excellent facsimile (both have the same ‘bunch of grapes’ watermark as the title and are matched in their toning, while the final leaf is without a wormhole). The volume is foliated as follows: (8), clxxxvi [i.e. 187], (1). The volume measures about 27.7 cm by 20.3 cm by 3.8 cm; each leaf measures about 269 mm by 193 mm.
- Número de libros
- Agricultura; Viticultura; Vino; Horticultura, Ciencias (general), Cocina, comida y bebida, Deportes, juegos y pasatiempos, Historia natural, Incunables e impresión temprana, Libros ilustrados, Medicina
- Autor/ Ilustrador
- Pietro de' Crescenzi [Petrus de Crescentiis]
- Título del libro
- Le Livre des Prouffitz Champestres et Ruraulx
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- Año de publicación artículo más antiguo
- Primera edición
- Lengua original
- Jaques Huguetan
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