Delle imprese trattato di Giulio Cesare Capaccio. In tre libri diviso. Nel primo, del modo di far l’Impresa da qualsivoglia oggetto, o Naturale, o Artificioso con nuove maniere si ragiona. Nel secondo, tutti ieroglifici, simboli e cose Mistiche in lettere Sacre, o Profane si scuoprono; e come da quegli cavar si ponno l’Imprese. Nel terzo, nel figurar degli emblemi di molte cose naturali per l’Imprese si tratta

Autore CAPACCIO, Giulio Cesare (1552-1634).
Tipografo Giovanni Giacomo Carlino & Antonio Pace per Orazio Salviani
Dati tipografici Napoli, 
Prezzo 2400.00
Delle imprese

Three parts in one volume, 4to (205x142 mm). [32], 84; 148; 60 leaves. Collation: ¶4 a-g4 A-X4; Aa-Zz4 Aaa-Ooo4; Aaaa-Pppp4. With 300 woodcut illustrations in text, showing emblems, medals, coat-of-arms, and other symbols. Printer's device on title pages and on last leaf verso. Late 17th- or early 18th-century stiff vellum with lettering piece on spine. Small hole on l. A2 with loss of a few words, gutter and lower margin of l. Ll2 reinforced, some foxing and staining. A very good, genuine copy.

FIRST EDITION of one of the major emblem treatises of the sixteenth century, important both from a theoretical point of view and for its many original illustrations.

The volume presents two dedications, one addressed by the author to Giovanni Battista Crispi and the other by F. Tommaso da Capua to the cardinal of Mondovì. They are dated from Naples respectively on the first and last day of May 1591.

The treatise Delle Imprese belongs in full to the Renaissance neoplatonic tradition, which had given hieroglyphics a symbolic rather than phonetic-alphabetic interpretation. The hieroglyphics were thus considered as the first esoteric example of a visual language and were studied as a privileged precedent of the new metaphorical writing, in which a prominent place was occupied by the “imprese”, defined by Capaccio as the written and visual metaphorical expression of a “concept”.

Within a rather aristocratic idea of literature, Capaccio argues that it was the existence in ancient Egypt of two separate cultures (the esoteric one reserved to the privilged and chosen, and the one of the “impure men”) that allowed the birth of the “symbolic” writing of hieroglyphs. And, in his opinion, it was the commitment to a privileged culture that could guarantee renovation and vitality to the new artificial “writing” of emblems and to literature in general (cf. R. Klein, La théorie de l'expression figurée dans les traités italiens sur les “imprese”, 1555-1612, in: “Bibliothèque d'Humanismeet Renaissance”, XIX, 1957, pp. 320-341).

Giulio Cesare Capaccio was born in Campagna d'Eboli (Salerno) in 1552. He studied in Naples under the Jesuit father Girolamo Casella da Nola, and in Bologna, where he took a degree in law. After a long journey throughout Italy, in 1575 he came back to Naples, where a few years later he published Delle prediche quadragesimali (1582). In 1592 appeared his treatise on emblems Delle imprese, a late but important testimony of Renaissance Neo-Platonism tradition. In the following years, after a short stay in his native town, he lived in Naples as a teacher and employee of the public office responsible for the conservation of grains and oils. In 1602 the fifty-year-old Capaccio received recognition for his already distinguished career in literary studies and local historical-archeological erudition with the appointment as secretary to the city of Naples. His major field of interest was in fact the ancient history of the city, to which he contributed with the works Historia Puteolana (1604) and Historia Neapolitana (1607). In 1611 he was among the founders of the Accademia degli Oziosi. Between 1613 and 1614, after a serious charge of embezzlement, Capaccio was suspended from all his public offices and sent into exile; all his possessions (including his large library) were confiscated. In 1616 he decided to accept an invitation of Francesco Maria II della Rovere and moved to Urbino, where he was appointed curator of the ducal library, became ducal counselor, and was entrusted with several important diplomatic missions. To his new patron he dedicated the treatise Il Principe (1620). In 1623 Capaccio returned to Naples, where he spent his last years as a school teacher. He died in 1634, shortly after his last publication, Il forastiero, a guide of Naples in dialogue form (cf. Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, XVIII, 1975, pp. 374-380; see also F. Cubiciotti, Vita di Giulio Cesare Capaccio con l'esposizione delle sue opere, Campagna, 1898, passim).

Index Aureliensis, nr. 131.440; Edit16, CNCE9062; Manzi, Annali del Salviani, no. 166; Praz, p. 296; Mortimer, p. 149, no. 101; Landwehr, VI, 203.

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