Opera nova de Achille Marozzo bolognese, maestro generale de larte de larmi

Autore MAROZZO, Achille (1484-1553).
Tipografo Antonio Bergolli
Dati tipografici Modena, 
Prezzo 15000.00
Opera nova

The most comprehensive Italian 16th-century fencing manual


4to (206x150 mm). [8], 148 leaves. Collation: +8 A-S8 T4. Title border with a king sitting on a throne at the top, armoured figures standing at the sides, and, at the bottom, another figure in armour kneeling within a magic circle. 84 woodcuts (including 7 repetitions) of duelling positions, 56 of which are full-page. 28 of these blocks are signed with the initial “b”, which has been variably and controversially attributed to Francesco Barattini or Giovanni Britto. In some of the fighting figures may be hiding a portrait of the author, of the dedicatee Guido Rangone, or of some of Marozzo's pupils. Colophon and errata at l. T4r. Later stiff vellum, inked title on spine (new endleaves). On the front flyleaf the ownership inscription “Cesare Morbio”. Other inscriptions on the title page have been inked out. Some foxing and damp staining, outer margin of the last four leaves skilfully repaired with no damage to text. A good copy.

EXTREMELY RARE FIRST EDITION, dedicated to Count Guido Antonio Rangoni, of the most important and comprehensive Italian 16th-century fencing manual. Marozzo is the founder of a combat school and the inventor of a martial art that is still practiced today.

After their first appearance in the Modena edition, the blocks were transferred to Venice for the 1550 edition (a page-by-page reprint of this first edition), issued by Giovanni Padovano for Melchiorre Sessa. In addition to this Venice edition, there is also one more edition that used the same blocks, which was printed with no mention of place, printer, or date (but probably Modena, ca. 1540).

“We learn that the work concerns offensive and defensive combat, that it is written by Achille Marozzo, who calls himself “gladiator of Bologna”, and that it includes all the weapons that men use in hand-to-hand fighting, on foot and on horseback, with illustrations that demonstrate all the effects and guards that can be achieved with the sword (spada), sword and dagger (pugnale), or sword accompanied by the round shield (rotella), hand buckler (targa), large or small shield (brochiero largo o stretto), two-handed sword (spada da due mani), and the various kinds of long-shafted arms (armi inastate). All this, we are told, is to bring light to the generous individuals who delight in the virtue of arms” (W.M. Gaugler, The History of Fencing, Bangor, 1998, pp. 1-2).

Edit 16, CNCE64015; R. Mortimer, Italian 16th Century Books in the Harvard College Library, Cambridge, 1974, II, no. 287; M.J.D. Coockle, A Bibliography of Military Books, London, 1978, no. 744; G.E. Levi-J. Gelli, Bibliografia del duello, Milan, 1903, pp. 143-144; A. Marozzo, Opera nova dell'arte delle armi, a cura di G. Rapisardi, Turin, 2005; J. Gelli, Bibliografia generale della scherma, Milan, 1895, pp. 134-136.

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