[RENAISSANCE MANUSCRIPT / SONNETS / Canzoniere]. "Poesie. Manoscritto antico d’ignoto autore" (early title in MS on upper cover). Manuscript on paper. Written in Venice, likely ca. 1490 through 1520, although the sonnet on fol. 46r is clearly dated 25 januarij 1510 venetiis. Anonymous.
[RENAISSANCE MANUSCRIPT / SONNETS / Canzoniere]. "Poesie. Manoscritto antico d’ignoto autore" (early title in MS on upper cover). Manuscript on paper. Written in Venice, likely ca. 1490 through 1520, although the sonnet on fol. 46r is clearly dated 25 januarij 1510 venetiis
[RENAISSANCE MANUSCRIPT / SONNETS / Canzoniere]. "Poesie. Manoscritto antico d’ignoto autore" (early title in MS on upper cover). Manuscript on paper. Written in Venice, likely ca. 1490 through 1520, although the sonnet on fol. 46r is clearly dated 25 januarij 1510 venetiis
[RENAISSANCE MANUSCRIPT / SONNETS / Canzoniere]. "Poesie. Manoscritto antico d’ignoto autore" (early title in MS on upper cover). Manuscript on paper. Written in Venice, likely ca. 1490 through 1520, although the sonnet on fol. 46r is clearly dated 25 januarij 1510 venetiis
[RENAISSANCE MANUSCRIPT / SONNETS / Canzoniere]. "Poesie. Manoscritto antico d’ignoto autore" (early title in MS on upper cover). Manuscript on paper. Written in Venice, likely ca. 1490 through 1520, although the sonnet on fol. 46r is clearly dated 25 januarij 1510 venetiis
[RENAISSANCE MANUSCRIPT / SONNETS / Canzoniere]. "Poesie. Manoscritto antico d’ignoto autore" (early title in MS on upper cover). Manuscript on paper. Written in Venice, likely ca. 1490 through 1520, although the sonnet on fol. 46r is clearly dated 25 januarij 1510 venetiis
[RENAISSANCE MANUSCRIPT / SONNETS / Canzoniere]. "Poesie. Manoscritto antico d’ignoto autore" (early title in MS on upper cover). Manuscript on paper. Written in Venice, likely ca. 1490 through 1520, although the sonnet on fol. 46r is clearly dated 25 januarij 1510 venetiis
[RENAISSANCE MANUSCRIPT / SONNETS / Canzoniere]. "Poesie. Manoscritto antico d’ignoto autore" (early title in MS on upper cover). Manuscript on paper. Written in Venice, likely ca. 1490 through 1520, although the sonnet on fol. 46r is clearly dated 25 januarij 1510 venetiis
[RENAISSANCE MANUSCRIPT / SONNETS / Canzoniere]. "Poesie. Manoscritto antico d’ignoto autore" (early title in MS on upper cover). Manuscript on paper. Written in Venice, likely ca. 1490 through 1520, although the sonnet on fol. 46r is clearly dated 25 januarij 1510 venetiis
[RENAISSANCE MANUSCRIPT / SONNETS / Canzoniere]. "Poesie. Manoscritto antico d’ignoto autore" (early title in MS on upper cover). Manuscript on paper. Written in Venice, likely ca. 1490 through 1520, although the sonnet on fol. 46r is clearly dated 25 januarij 1510 venetiis
[RENAISSANCE MANUSCRIPT / SONNETS / Canzoniere]. "Poesie. Manoscritto antico d’ignoto autore" (early title in MS on upper cover). Manuscript on paper. Written in Venice, likely ca. 1490 through 1520, although the sonnet on fol. 46r is clearly dated 25 januarij 1510 venetiis
[RENAISSANCE MANUSCRIPT / SONNETS / Canzoniere]. "Poesie. Manoscritto antico d’ignoto autore" (early title in MS on upper cover). Manuscript on paper. Written in Venice, likely ca. 1490 through 1520, although the sonnet on fol. 46r is clearly dated 25 januarij 1510 venetiis
[RENAISSANCE MANUSCRIPT / SONNETS / Canzoniere]. "Poesie. Manoscritto antico d’ignoto autore" (early title in MS on upper cover). Manuscript on paper. Written in Venice, likely ca. 1490 through 1520, although the sonnet on fol. 46r is clearly dated 25 januarij 1510 venetiis
[RENAISSANCE MANUSCRIPT / SONNETS / Canzoniere]. "Poesie. Manoscritto antico d’ignoto autore" (early title in MS on upper cover). Manuscript on paper. Written in Venice, likely ca. 1490 through 1520, although the sonnet on fol. 46r is clearly dated 25 januarij 1510 venetiis
[RENAISSANCE MANUSCRIPT / SONNETS / Canzoniere]. "Poesie. Manoscritto antico d’ignoto autore" (early title in MS on upper cover). Manuscript on paper. Written in Venice, likely ca. 1490 through 1520, although the sonnet on fol. 46r is clearly dated 25 januarij 1510 venetiis
[RENAISSANCE MANUSCRIPT / SONNETS / Canzoniere]. "Poesie. Manoscritto antico d’ignoto autore" (early title in MS on upper cover). Manuscript on paper. Written in Venice, likely ca. 1490 through 1520, although the sonnet on fol. 46r is clearly dated 25 januarij 1510 venetiis

[RENAISSANCE MANUSCRIPT / SONNETS / Canzoniere]. "Poesie. Manoscritto antico d’ignoto autore" (early title in MS on upper cover). Manuscript on paper. Written in Venice, likely ca. 1490 through 1520, although the sonnet on fol. 46r is clearly dated 25 januarij 1510 venetiis

Venice: 1510 (25 January). 8vo. in fours. Collation: A-Q4, COMPLETE. 64 ff. (some signatures written in contemporary MS, several erroneously, neat modern foliation in pencil). Paper size: 155 x 105. Watermarks: Northern Italy, ca. 1480-1520 (see below). Bound in late 18th century Italian sprinkled ochre boards, upper cover with title in MS. Text in Italian, and with the titles of several poems in Latin. Several types of Italian humanistic literae cursivae, all apparently by the same person (see images below), numerous corrections throughout. Item #2973

Fascinating Unknown Venetian Manuscript of Unpublished Sonnets and Love Letters, ca. 1510.

An important discovery. Unknown manuscripts of unpublished Italian poetry, written in Venice during the age of Aldus Manutius, are rare in private ownership. The present manuscript contains 100 poetical compositions (sic) and merits considerable scholarly inquiry: certain sonnets and poems were extensively revised, showing authorial development; the handwriting is perfectly clear, in some instances modeled after contemporary Italian writing masters; and finally, the codex is preserved in remarkably fresh condition and is perfectly suitable for exhibition and intensive study.

The manuscript consists mainly of sonnets in the style of Petrarch, several capitoli and strambotti, and includes many revisions, variants, and even cancellations, to which two intriguing love letters were added. The name of the author is unknown but his identity may yet be discovered, as he left a number of intriguing clues in the text, the most obvious one being the family name Colonna, famous in Venice and Rome, and the names of several of his muses.

Certain sonnets exhibit handwriting reminiscent of Giovanni Antonio Tagliente (ca. 1460s - ca. 1528) who worked for the Venetian Chancery and whose “Lo presente libro” (Venice, 1524) continues to inspire modern-day calligraphers and typographers. We may also reference the work of writing master Ludovico Vicentino degli Arrighi (1475-1527), who seems to have started his career in Venice before becoming a Papal scribe and type designer.

That the MS was written over a long period, in some instances interpolated on (formerly) blank leaves, is attested by the changes in handwriting and ink. To illustrate the development of the codex itself, we propose an artificial division of four sections:

¶ Section A contains 42 sonnets written in the litera cursiva styles A and B. The neat humanistic handwriting is comparable with that used by contemporary Venetian scribes. If the text had been copied from previous drafts, it is clear that the author remained unsatisfied, as there are a number of substantive revisions in the text. In the upper margin of eleven sonnets were written the title of the poem - in Latin - at some point in the life of the MS. Two sonnets in this section were cancelled by the author. ¶ Section B contains 32 poems written in the litera cursiva styles C-G. These were presumably written in the same period except for some interpolated sonnets that were written slightly afterwards. ¶ Section C contains 16 poems, one of which bears the date 27 Ianuarij 1510 (fol. 46v). This section surely contains poems written in a different period, including two sonnets (fol. 49r-v) that were written in the humanistic litera cursiva style A which begins the MS. ¶ Section D contains two Love Letters, plus an Addenda of 10 “new” poems and capitoli, hastily written.

That the author may have had thoughts on publishing his work is suggested by the “printer’s signatures” that were written by him in ink in the lower margins of the first 16 leaves. If such a book was ever printed, it has not been located; indeed, not even a single poem has been traced (see below for a complete Index Poematum).

The fact that the author never signed his work may be due to the private and very personal contents of this Canzoniere. The work was probably begun by the author as a young man, and for years it served as a vehicle of consolation for unrequited love.

Faustina, Helena Colonna, Laura, Arianna

In the first sonnet, Stanch’ormai dal cacciar senza rispetto (fol. 1r), the author claims to have met “three beautiful nymphs” during a break from hunting. A possible connection to the Colonna family is first suggested in Sonnet II, A una colonna d’alabastro fina (1v), in which the poet declares his eternal lover for Faustina (“ni altra Dea adorerò ch’a Faustina).” The word colonna is found in other compositions throughout the Canzoniere, suggesting that at least one of the author’s muses was a member of the famous Colonna family. Sonnet XVIII Ardo, piango, sospiro et a tutt’hore (9v) ends with the verse chiedendo sempre a un cor di marmo, a una colonna viva (“always begging a marble heart, a living column”), again suggesting, by means of a well-crafted literary image, the Colonna family. Most importantly, the actual name “Helena Colonna” appears as the caption heading to Sonnet LXXXII Da una marmorina Alta colonna (48v). Lady Colonna may be referenced in the first Love Letter (53v), in which the author describes her as alta colonna di mia vita (“high column of my life”). No longer is the Colonna surname obscured behind imagery.

The promise of endless love to Faustina was not kept, unless the author cleverly utilized more than one name for the same woman, a not-uncommon practice in this particular genre. Two other names appear herein, namely Laura and Arianna. That the author may have had changes of heart might be due to the fact that he seems to have written the poems over an extended period of time (see images of the handwriting development, A-G), and is therefore a record of failed love, years in the making. The sonnets reflect perpetual, desperate longing, almost always to the point of death. How could it be otherwise?

The Philosopher and His “Poetessa” Muse

In Sonnet LI, I’ solea ben la penna, et l’intelletto (28v), the author states quite clearly that the object of his desire was also a poet, declaring that a mortal blow has pierced his side because he has lost the paper, the ink and each amorous rhyme of his Lady’s verse (persi la carta, l’inchiostro e ogni amoroso detto). The author claims that he is much better at writing about philosophy:

Smaritha quella strada. altro sentiero
Hora mi è scorta mi governa, et regge
Qual va fina Avicenna, e agli aphorismi
Ove Signor si vostre rime egregge
Non han da me risposta: a dirvi ‘l vero
Mi torna meglio scriver Syllogismi.

“The road is lost. A different path is now taking me to Avicenna [the philosopher], and to Aphorisms, where, Lady, your excellent rhymes have no answer; to tell you the truth, I’m better in writing Syllogisms.” Thus the identity of the author, a “reluctant poet,” may be found among contemporary Venetian philosophers.

Index Poematum

Section A (litera cursiva styles A and B):

I. Stanch’ormai dal cacciar senza rispetto ["Stanch’ hormai dal chacciar senza rispetto"] (fol. 1r)
II. A una colonna d’alabastro fina (1v)
III. Deponni l’archo, la pharetra Amore (2r): textual corrections
IV. Deh! Potess’io canggiar tecco mia sorte (2v): caption title in Latin
V. Non posso più celar la fiamma ardente (3r): caption title in Latin
VI. Era tutto coperto d’adamante (3v): caption title in Latin, textual correction
VII. Vedendo de gli fior le Vite corte (4r): caption title in Latin, textual correction
VIII. Vaten felice Aventurata Rosa (4v): caption title in Latin
IX. L’esca, gli stral, et l’amorosa Rete (5r): caption title in Latin
X. Quando sera quel giorno che chi m’have (5v): the entire sonnet cancelled
XI. Dolce m’e ‘l giogo et la pregion men grave (6r): caption title in Latin
XII. La singular mia fede che vi porto (6v): entire sonnet cancelled
XIII. Ardo d’Amor, et ho la fiama viva (7r): caption title in Latin, textual corrections
XIV. Donna gentil fin hor son sta patiente (7v): caption title in Latin
XV. Se mai per tempo alchun mi vedrò sciolto (8r): caption title in Latin
XVI. Amor un dolce viso teso havea (8v): caption title in Latin
XVII. Madonna ogni mio ben da dolci Rai (9r)
XVIII. Ardo, piango, sospiro et a tutt’hore (9v)
XIX. Qual vero Pregionier al sacro Tempio (10r)
XX. Sono doi animali un de si altera (10v)
XXI. Un scoglio d’una Pietra è tanto ardita (11r)
XXII. Amor in guisa d’huom che guerra aspetta (11v)
XXIII. Il mie Adversario a cui in tutte l’hore (12r)
XXIV. Amor nel volto mio ben più di mille (12v)
XXV. Sapete che ben solo me nutrisco (13r)
XXVI. Una che qui tra noi excider suole (13v)
XXVII. Si questo e ver Amor como se dice (14r)
XXVIII. Donna gentil mi sento (14v)
XXIX. Deh! Perché non vi è noto il mio dolore (15r)
XXX. Se gli è pur mio destin ch’amando i’ rompa (15v)
XXXI. Sempre vidi Iustìa star accorta (16r)
XXXII. Come voi ho et, d’enverno et, d’estate (16v): textual corrections
XXXIII. D’un verdeggiante Lauro un giorno Amore (17r): textual corrections
XXXIV. Gli occhi leggiadri ove ch’alberga Amore (17v): final line verse rewritten in an 18th century hand
XXXV. S’io fusse di sospir, Et pianto privo (18r): extensively revised then completely cancelled
XXXVI. Gratie che a pocche donne Amor concede (18v)
XXXVII. Occhi miei lassi ho ben mirare Fiso (19r): textual corrections
XXXVIII. Il Pellegrin avintto dal disio (19v): textual corrections
XXXIX. Il Chacciator che nel bosco la Ferra (20r)
XL. Smarite piaggie ov’hor piangendo torno (20v)
XLI. Mille fiate al di m’assale Amore (21r)
XLII. Ogni luocho mi spiace ov’io non trovo (21v)

fol. 22r: S’io fusse de sospir, et pianto privo: variant of Sonnet XXXV, hastily written as a draft
22v-23r: two pages of verse, extensively revised and then apparently abandoned
23v: blank

Section B (litera cursiva styles C-G)

XLIII. Amor, Fortuna, a sì’nfelice Sorte (24r)
Fol. 24v: blank
XLIV. Lasso credendo haver pur qualche pace (25r): textual corrections
XLV. Scoprir non posso l’amorosa fiama (25v)
XLVI. Miser vo pur scorgendo a passo: a passo (26r): textual corrections
XLVII. Miser tutto ardo, Et piango a tutte l’hore (26v)
XLVIII. Io viverei con la Phenice a prova (27r)
XLIX. Per la merce dil mio si longo affanno (27v)
L. Gli occhi beati intorno han l’esca e’l visco (28r): textual corrections
LI. I’ solea ben la penna, et l’intelletto (28v)
LII. Sotto rara beltà nascosto è l’hamo (29r): textual corrections, including one stanza cancelled
LIII. Piango cantando ‘n rime il mio lamento (29v): textual corrections
LIV. Qual dolce mana, qual esca, qual visco (30r): introduction of “Laura”
LV. Quando Madonna con dolci parole (30v)
LVI. In fronte meco i’ porto l’ ben e il male (31r): textual corrections
LVII. Occhi ove ch’Amor sovente tresca (31v): textual corrections (LVII and LVIII are written on the same page but in different handwriting styles)
LVIII. Che il tempo si consuma ogni fier cosa (31v): textual corrections
LIX. Sol p[er] farmi gustar mana in veneno (32r)
LX. Baso ogni giorno mille, et, mille volte (32v)
LXI. N’anti ch’entrasse un’hora me ritrovo (33r)
Fols. 33v-34r: blank
LXII. Lauda le ver ch’ogni fidel amante (34v)
LXIII. Laura soave che si dolcemente (35r): reintroduction of “Laura”
LXIV. Deh! Vi fusse si noto quanto ch’io ardo (35v)
Fol. 36r: blank
LXV. Si come è vagho un vivido colore (36v): a capitolo written for “Arianna”
LXVI. Maraveglia non è si ho mesto il volto (37r)
LXVII. Chi non vedrà quanto è mia bella (37v)
LXVIII. Dovran per mostrar gran maraviglia (38r)
LXIX. Si come è bello un vivido colore (38v): preliminary verses, corrected, cancelled and apparently abandoned
LXX. Se mai per altra donna i’ ro[m]po fede (39r)
Fols. 39v-40r: blank
LXXI. Et copre donna q[ue]l candido seno (40v): caption heading: “L[au]ra S. C.”
LXXII. Amor da cui mai fu troppo lontano (41r)
LXXIII. Quella ch’un tempo la ti piacque tanto (41v-42r)
LXXIV. S’el p[rimo] di che mi piacesti tanto (42r-43r): ending with “Telos” (in Greek)
Fol. 43v: blank

Section C:

LXXV. Vaga, et, smarita va Phylosophia (44r)
LXXVI. Spirto gentil in cui valor si trova (44v)
LXXVII. Occhi che nel mio cor fate il bel nido (45r)
LXXVIII. Gli occhi ove scherzar si vede amore (45v): textual corrections
LXXIX. S’el vivo Sol, et, le doi chiare Stelle (46r): dated 27 January 1510 at Venice, “M.E.”
LXXX. La meggia notte facea meggio giorno (46v): textual corrections
LXXXI. Gratie da gli occhi uscian sante, et, si nove (47r): textual corrections
Fols. 47v-48r: blank
LXXXII. Da una marmorina Alta colonna (48v): textual corrections; caption title: “Helena Colonna”
LXXXIII. Istarò sempre come scoglio al onde (49r)
LXXXIV. Ogni supplitio dammi ogni martoro (49v)
LXXXV. Questo già non pensai superba Altera (50r)
LXXXVI. Deh! Pensa un poco a la mia Iniqua sorte (50v)
LXXXVII. Da poi che per amar son gionto a morte (51r)
LXXXVIII. Non è cosa mortal benchè in fra sphera (51v)
LXXXIX. Ben è infelice chi in fra mondo ingrato (52r)
XC. Se dil mio amor volevi esser felice (52v): textual corrections

Section D (Sigs. O-Q4):

NB: These three gatherings have a waterstain which does not appear in any of the preceding gatherings or individual leaves.

First Letter: Honoranda et singular mia Diva, la cui imagime como richo thesoro [explicit:] Vale, o et praesidium et dulce decus meus (53r-54v)
Second Letter: Suolsi communemente dire almo mio Sole [explicit:] Vale. (54v-55v)
XCI. Così come un sasso accorto, et, destro (55r)
XCII. Né [illegible word] d’haver più pena vale (55r)
XCIII. A che mostrarmi pace nel aspetto (56v)
XCIV. Io son contento poi che m’hai nel Iocho (57r-57v)
XCV. Sacro santo mio nome Alma mia stella (58r-59r): caption heading: “Capitolo” / Finis
XCVI. Rotto e carcho d’amor, spreciato e l’arco (59r-60v): caption heading: “Capitolo” / Finis
XCVII. Un dolce laccio ha fatto amore (61r-61v): textual corrections; caption heading: “Capitolo” / "Telos" (in Greek)
Fols. 62r-63r: blank
XCVIII. Mai rosa fu si vagha nel mattino (63v): caption heading: “Strambotti”
XCIX. De’ Lumi da begli occhi discendea (63v): caption heading: “Strambotti”
C. Doi occhi da far arder (64r): caption heading: “Sonetto”
Fol. 64r: blank

WATERMARKS: As the book is an octavo, the watermarks appear in the upper gutter margins, and thus only one half appears at one time; however, it has been possible to identify them, especially with the aid of the countermarks (“angle” and “lettre B”). Chapeau: type of Briquet 3456 (Venice 1499) and Briquet 3461 (Udine, 1521). Balance: type of Briquet 2575 (Venice 1478), Briquet 2587 (Verona et al. 1525).

Price: $35,000.00

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