Description: Bonaventure, Saint (1221-1274)
Egregium opus subtilitate et deuoto exercitio precellens paruoru[m] opusculoru[m]. doctoris seraphici sancti Bonauenture. Prima pars. [and] Egregium opus subtilitate et deuoto exercitio precellens paruoru[m] opusculoru[m] doctoris seraphici sancti Bonauenture. Secunda pars. Vol I: Civitates Status Ecclesiasticae; Vol II: Antiquates et Admiranda Urbis Roma
Strasbourg: [Printer of the 1483 Jordanus de Quedlinburg], 18 December 1495
Two folio volumes: 29.2 x 21.6 cm. Volume I: 1, 2-4, a8, b-g8/6, h6, i-z8/6, A-M6/8, N-Q6, R-Z8/6, AA6, BB8, CC-DD6, EE8. 380 of 380 leaves, including the final blank, EE8. Volume II: A8 (lacking the title-page, A1), B-C6, aa8, bb-qq8/6, rr-tt6, vv-zz8/6, AA-PP8/6, QQ-SS6, TT-ZZ8/6, Aaa-Eee6 (lacking the final blank, Eee6). 368 of 370 leaves.
FOURTH EDITION. This is a large copy, with deckle edges in evidence on all three sides of the leaves throughout both volumes. It is one and a quarter inch taller and five-eighth's of an inch wider than the British Museum copy. Bound uniformly in full 15th century alum-tawed pigskin bindings over wooden boards, these two volumes are in perfect condition. Central bosses have been removed on both volumes, but all sixteen corner-pieces and both sets of catches and clasps are present, in perfect working order. The contents have been rubricated throughout. The matching bindings are tooled in blind on both boards. The tools, including the small banner with "Maria," the trefoil and the border plate with interlocking hearts, are used together on other fifteenth century German bindings created at the monastery of the Minor Friars of Bamberg. These particular tools were in use on printed books and manuscripts produced between 1471 and 1529.
A full-paged woodcut of Bonaventure's Lignum Vitae, or Tree of Life, embellished with fifteenth century coloring is printed on the verso of the title page in Volume I. The "Tree of Life" was a structural mnemonic devised to guide Christian meditation on the humanity of Christ. In this image the tree is also the crucifix. A mellow golden ochre wash has been neatly applied to the tree itself, the Pope's robes, and to the halos of Christ, Saint John the Baptist and the Pope. The rubricator has used red ink to outline the halos, to color the flowers sprouting from the tree, to highlight the banners that entwine the crucifixion, and the Pope's robes. This matte, opaque ink is also used to great effect to illustrate the bleeding wounds of Christ's body. The same woodcut is repeated in volume two, opposite leaf 333. The Lignum was also printed a third time, on the title page for Volume II, which is lacking in this copy.
The second full-paged woodcut, printed on leaf 339, at the end of volume two, is another mnemonic devised by Bonaventure in April 1263. Bonaventure composed his 'Six Wings of the Seraphim,' as a treatise for religious superiors. Each of the six wings stands for a moral imperative that must be embodied by all church leaders. The virtues are: a zeal for justice, kindness, patience, living an exemplary life, exercising provident discernment, and devoting oneself to God. The angel depicted is the Seraph Francis. The two lower wings represent 'vestigia,' signs in the physical or natural world that indicate the existence of God, and correspondences between the sensory abilities of animals and people that point to the work of God. The two middle wings of the Seraph remind the reader to see God in His 'image,' that is, in other people who seem to embody divinity. These special signs can be 'natural' or 'reformed by grace.' The two highest wings are concerned with seeing God himself, through faith and reason.
Location of Origin: Europe
Dimensions: Two folio volumes: 29.2 x 21.6 cm.
Primary Classification: Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Maps : Books
Expertise: Goff B-928; BMC I: 144; Proctor 639; Hain B468; Polain 777; Pell 2616; GW 4648; Walsh 258; Chrisman, "Bibliography of Strasbourg Imprints," C1.2.10.
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