De Sculptura seu Statuaria
Pomponio Gaurico was the youngest of Giovanni Pontano’s students, and the last to carry Pontano’s Neapolitan brand of Humanism into the 16th century. (From 1512 he held the chair in Humanistic Studies at the University of Naples.) His treatise on bronze sculpture came out of his studies at the University of Padua, published at Florence in 1504. It was quickly recognized as a fundamental statement of art theory, written in elegant Latin (for which Pontano’s students were justly famous).
The second edition, offered here, was printed in Antwerp, Belgium. It is significant not only as an early printing of a perennial text, but as evidence of the spread of Italian humanism, with its principles of proportion, perspective, and ideal beauty, to Northern European artists and thinkers. It was one of the first books off the press of the young printer, Joannis Grapheus, relying on a text prepared by his brother, the humanist Cornelius Scribonius Grapheus, who had traveled in Italy and probably became familiar with Gaurico’s work there. In a preface, Cornelius describes the text as “a rare bird, an uncommon treasure, a textbook useful not only for sculptors or painters, but also to all writers, whether they be poets or historians or philosophers. It is a book to be cherished in the heart, admired, redolent of antiquity and richly abounding in learning.”