The First Illustrated Aldine Dante

Dante Alighieri (1265-1321)

Dante col sito, et forma dell’Inferno tratta dalla istessa descrittione del Poeta

Venice: nelle Case d’Aldo et d’Andrea de Asola, August 1515


Octavo: 15.7 x 9.2 cm. [2], 244, [4] leaves. Collation: π2, a-z8, A-H8. With blank leaf i2 present, lacking blank H7.

SECOND ALDINE EDITION (first 1502), the first illustrated Aldine edition.

With woodcut schematic diagrams of the sins punished in the Inferno and the moral scheme of Purgatory, as well as a double-paged woodcut illustration of the Inferno, based on the researches of Antonio Manetti (1423-1497). The Aldine anchor and dolphin device appears on the title page and the verso of the final leaf. Bound in 18th c. mottled sheep, gilt spine with a charming label. Binding lightly worn, some minor worming to the spine. A very good copy internally with a few light blemishes. Light iink stain to Inferno woodcut. Unidentified armorial stamp to the first leaf.

The first Aldine Dante appeared in 1502, edited by Pietro Bembo. Aldus himself is believed to have prepared this second edition of Dante, which appeared shortly after his death in 1515. The volume opens with a dedicatory epistle by Andrea Torresani, Aldus’ partner and father-in-law, to the celebrated Vittoria Colonna (1490-1547).

The Illustrations:

The title page announces the inclusion of the new map (“the location, shape, and size”) of the Inferno. The map –a cross-section of the Inferno- was inspired by the illustrations of the Florentine architect and mathematician Antonio di Tuccio Manetti (1423-1497). The illustrations first appeared, posthumously, in Girolamo Benivieni’s (1453-1542) Giunta edition of 1506.

In the spirit of appropriation so often practiced by the Giunta family against him, Aldus not only used the illustrations from the 1506 Giuntina but also incorporated variant readings included by Benivieni in that edition.

Renouard, p. 73, no. 8; Ahmanson-Murphy 136; Batines I, pp. 71-75; Mambelli 24; Adams D-88