Anversa, Christofano Plantino, 1588.
Folio, Full Contemporary Tan Calf, with Blind Tooled Central lozenge of the Allegory of Justice. pp. + 432 + [18 + 2], hinges repaired, Illustrated with allegorical engraving of the Netherlands (Iustitia res conservantur), an engraved title, richly engraved plate with a border of the coat of arms of the 16 Provinces and that of Brabant together with coat of arms of Philip II in centre pasted in, engraved plate with allegorical depiction of the Arts and Sciences within architectural border with portrait of Philip II in centre, large woodcut coat of arms of Guicciardini and 78 (mostly double-page) engraved maps and views.
The First City Book of the Netherlands and One of the Finest Dutch Books of the Renaissance.
All Plates and Titles in Fine CONTEMPORARY RICH GOUACHE COLOURING, including woodcut headpieces and initials.
One of the most important books published on the Low Countries in the 16th century, by Lodovico (or Luduvico) Guicciardini, being the first detailed description of the principalities and cities of the region, which assured the author instant fame.
Italian edition of the first city book of the Netherlands by Lodovico Guicciardini (Florence 1521-Antwerp 1589). The illustrations are the same as in the French edition of 1582. As in that edition, the plates were printed separately so that the owners could decide where to place them.
Lodovico Guicciardini’s Descrittione di tutti I Paesi Bassi (1567) is one of the most detailed and best documented contemporary descriptions of the Low Countries. As such its account has become an integrative part of the historical narrative on it’s history. It distinguishes itself from other cosmographic sources of the Renaissance through its broadness and analytical approach and the rich and varied sources the author used.
Although being a description of the whole of the Low Countries, his focus is clearly on the cities, and more in particular on Antwerp. Staying in Antwerp, one of the major commercial and cultural centres of the sixteenth century, for his business, Guicciardini spent many years collecting information. He used classical historiographic and geographic works, personal testimonies of merchants, intellectuals, travellers, and members of the Antwerp city council, and even archival sources, which he used with a critical sense that was not at all common in the period. Finally, his own testimony of the extraordinary wealth and economic dynamic of the city gives his work an additional value as a source of economic history. The descrizzione therefore combines the virtues of a travel description with the erudition of a renaissance intellectual. Thus, as far as the information given in the text it reflects the state of art of 16th-century geography, history, social and political science, art and economy of the Low Countries. Furthermore, it is an authentic reflection of the foreigner’s astonishment about the exceptional wealth and success of sixteenth century Antwerp and the Low Countries, together with Northern and central Italy the major urban region of Europe. This reflection of an Italian looking about the Low Countries is of particular interest. Both areas contributed importantly to the development of an urban society in late medieval and early modern Europe. The parallels as well as the distinction can be analysed particularly well from Guicciardini’s comments.
Ludovico Guicciardini (1521-1589) was a member of a noble Florentine family active in trade, and he was the nephew of the famous historian Francesco Guicciardini. Sent to Antwerp in 1541 at the age of 20, in order to represent his family there together with his brother, he would stay in the city until his death in 1589. While his career as a merchant was not very successful, he became a well-known writer whose four books sold very well, especially this, his major work, Descrittione di tutti i Paesi Bassi, first published in 1567 . During his stay in Antwerp he not only collected rich information on art, literature, history, geography and science in libraries, but he also established contacts with merchants, noblemen, members of the Antwerp city council and scholars.
This description of the Low Countries is one of the outstanding examples of sixteenth century cosmography. More in particular it is a choreography or description of a particular country, comparable to Braun & Hogenberg’s fine city views and Alberti’s Descrittione di Italia, which probably served as a model for Guicciardini.
Topography and chorography, as opposed to the more general levels cosmography and geography, can be distinguished through this work.The topographic aspect is the most elaborate and receives the most attention from Guicciardini. Hence the description is at the same time a praise of the Low Countries in general and of the outstanding position of Antwerp as a commercial, financial and industrial as well as a cultural and artistic centre in particular. Guicciardini’s original intention was to write only a description of Antwerp, but eventually it grew out to become a description of the whole of the Low Countries.
A splendid coloured example of this famous work
Voet, vol. III, n° 1280. Brunet, vol. II, p. 1806. Belgica Typographica 1362. Guicciardini Illustratus pp. 46-49.