The oldest books in the Art Library – Part I

This is the first in a series of blog posts that look at some of the earliest books in the Art Library’s collection, all housed in the Art Library’s rare book room.  If you want to see any of them, just ask at the desk.

The first book is the oldest in the collection – Anton Francesco Doni’s  I Marmi del Doni, Academico Peregrino, published in Vinegia (Venice) by F. Marcolini in 1552-53.

Anton Francesco Doni (1513-1574) was an Italian writer and poet.  He served at courts in Piacenza, Milan and Pavia but, finding it difficult to accept the conservative rules of court life, he started his own press in Florence.  Unfortunately, his business lasted for only two years.  He was an eccentric figure in Renaissance Italy, working outside the traditional cultural centers of court and church.  I Marmi is a satirical poem, parodying the Petrachan idea of feminine perfection.  Below are the title page from I Marmi del Doni and a typical page.

Why does the library collect rare books?  Because they are primary source materials for art history, offering a first-hand account of an artist’s life, the first critical response to a building or painting, or a new theory of art or architecture.  As the building blocks of art history, they remain relevant sources for researchers.

It’s also very cool to hold a 458 year old book in your hands!

3 Comments on “The oldest books in the Art Library – Part I”

  1. stephen says:

    It is awesome to be able to hold a piece of history in your hands.

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