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ALESSANDRO (Giuseppe d', Duca di Pescolanciano). Opera... divisa in cinque libri, ne qvali si tratta delle regole di Cavalcare, della professione di spada ed altri esercizi d'armi, con figure di briglie, torni e bresci, ed altre a cio appartenente; con un trattato del modo di curare l'infermitá de Cavalli, loro Preservativi, ed ancora con le figure de merchi delle razze piu nobili del regno di Napoli; parimente con l'aggiunta d'alcune rime, lettere et trattati di fisonomia, pittura...1723

Naples: Michele Luigi and Antonio Muzio, First edition, first issue, 2 parts in one, folio (350 x 230 mm), [8], 466; [2], 467, [1 blank], 468, [1], 469-811, [7]pp., one engraved plate with medallion portrait of the dedicatee Charles VI of Spain, including large Habsburg coat of arms and engraved by Francesco de Grado, 177 engravings in text, all but 3 full-page, some signed by de Grado, minor offsetting, short tears to lower blank margin of 4 plates, clean tear within plate on Bb1, small hole in fol. Dd1, partially affecting signature mark inside the plate, plate on Oo2 holed and repaired, partial loss to plate supplied in facsimile, woodcut decorated initials, head-pieces cut by Giovanni Pesca, tail-pieces, a few minor paper flaws, loss to outer blank corner of fol. Nn1, tear to fols. Nnn1 skilfully repaired, some colour pencilled reading marks, contemporary Neapolitan calf over pasteboards, covers profusely gilt with massed and arabesque tools, spine with five raised bands, compartments decorated with floral gilt tools, title lettered in gold, gauffered floral-patterned pastedowns, two green silk bookmarks, gilt and gauffered edges, board edges and corners slightly rubbed, a few scratches to lower cover, some wormholes to spine, lower compartment restored. A nice clean presentation copy of the exceedingly rare first issue of one of the finest works on horsemanship printed, complete with all plates and in a handsome contemporary Neapolitan binding. Giuseppe d'Alessandro (1656-1715), Duke of Pescolanciano, was an enthusiastic horseman and equestrian. In 1711 he published the Pietra paragone de' cavalieri, a veritable encyclopaedia on the art of riding, handling and training horses, which was reprinted in 1714. In 1723 his son Ettore edited posthumously the first edition of his father's collected works, partly re-using copies of the 1714 Pietra paragone, and addressing his publishing initiative to the Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI of Hapsburg. The first part of d'Alessandro's monumental Opera is divided into five Books, which deal respectively with riding instructions (Book 1), bridling horses (Book 2), kinds of mouth-pieces and bits (Book 3), tournament rules and biographies of illustrious cavalieri (Book 4, with a separate title), and horse medicine (Book 5). The second part has the half-title Aggiunta di Rime diverse, Lettere, e Trattati di Fisonomia, Pittura, &c. ed altri Esercizj, che sono la Pietra del Paragone de' Cavalieri, a large verse and prose collection entirely inspired by horsemanship, equestrianism and fencing, which d'Alessandro had mostly previously published in other works, such as the Selva poetica (1713). Both parts are lavishly illustrated with engravings possibly designed by the renowned Flemish artist Guglielmo Borremans (1670-1744), who was mainly active in Naples and other cities in southern Italy; some of them are signed by Francesco de Grado, the senior member of a family of engravers working in Naples. Especially noteworthy are the plates showing mouth-pieces and bits in Book 3, the series of 14 full-page portraits of famous noblemen on horseback (the Cavalcatori) and 14 oval busts of illustrious swordsmen (the Giocatori di Spada) in Book 4, and the plates depicting horses and other rare animals such as a rhinoceros in Book 5. This presentation copy is complete, being the exceedingly rare first issue which does not include - unlike the second issue - the final two leaves Mmmm1 and Mmmm2, both from the remaining copies of the 1714 publication and bearing the colophon dated 1714 and the Errata dell'Aggiunzione dell'Opera intitolata Pietra de' Paragoni de Cavalieri. Furthermore, in this copy fol. Nnn2 is uncounted in the pagination and contains the half-title of the Aggiunta di Rime Diverse showing a different woodcut ornament (the verso is blank); an additional singleton follows, numbered as a leaf (p. 467) and bearing the errata table Nota d'errori accaduti nella presente Aggiunta. The subsequent fol. Ooo1 is also printed as a leaf (p. 468), and contains on recto three imprimatur dated 1712-1714; the pagination is regular again from fol. Ooo2 (pp. 469-470) onwards. The final leaves Mmmm1 and Mmmm2 are likewise lacking in the presentation copy of D'Alessandro's Opera preserved in the National Library in Prague, housed in an identical binding and with the same gauffered pastedowns. The volume was in all likelihood offered as a gift to Giovanni Battista Prince of Acquaviva de Mari. The Acquaviva family had degrees of kinship with the d'Alessandros. A lengthy note, written in Italian on the front endpaper, gives information on the provenance of the volume, which had been in the hands of the Acquaviva-d'Alessandro family until the first decades of the 20th century. Provenance: Giovanni Battista Prince of Acquaviva de Mari (1686-1781), ownership inscription 'Principe di Acquaviva' on title, the note 'N.° 21=' in upper margin. Huth, 28; Wells, 78; Dejager, Bibliotheca Hippologica, 323.

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