Florence:: Amador Massi. 1646. hardcover. 4to. , 153 pp. Engraved title-page coat of arms, full-page. woodcut portrait of Lars Porsenna, errata, woodcut initials, headpieces, and tailpieces; light foxing to final two pages. Nineteenth-century quarter vellum over marbled paper-backed boards, gilt-stamped leather spine label; label worn. Bookplate of Bernadine. Murphy, book label at spine’s foot. Fine copy. FAMOUS FOR MONTEPULCIANO WINE – PRAISED BY BACCHUS! SECOND EDITION, expanded and corrected from the first of 1641, of "the most authoritative work on Montepulciano’s history" (Crociani-Windland, p. 15). The full-page woodcut portrait depicts Lars Porsenna, a semi-legendary Etruscan king from the 6th century B.C.E. "Interurban Tuscan rivalry that for some decades had hinged on claims to Etruscan origins" caused the citizens of Montepulciano to commission Renaissance sculptor Andrea Sansovino (1460- 1529) to create a colossus of this king in terracotta in the early sixteenth century (Wood, p. 169). The prestigious format of the colossus, as well as the unusual medium of terracotta, leant the figure "an archaic flavor" (Wood, p. 169). "Sansovino’s colossus had evidently already been reduced to a bust when Spinello Benci, secretary to the Medici, cited and reproduced it in woodcut as the frontispiece to his history of Montepulciano…. Benci knew that Sansovino was the author of the statue; he describes it as a ‘memorial’ erected by the town to its founder. And yet the work figures in his account almost as if it were contributing to the claim, dear to him, of an ancient Etruscan presence in Montepulciano. It was as if the fact that the citizens of Montepulciano had commissioned a memorial in the early sixteenth century rendered the myth of Etruscan origins a little more probably. The folk of the sixteenth century, after all, were just that much closer to antiquity, or so Benci implies; the old traditions were perhaps still intact then, the invisible lines of communication to the deepest past still open. Modernity, by contrast, our own mid-seventeenth century, Benci seems to be saying, is forever cut off from the living past and has to make do with mere scholarship" (Wood, p. 169). Benci extolls the wine of Montepulciano (p.3), accepting literally Livy’s explanation for the Gallic invasion of Rome—that Aruns, an exile, sought revenge on his people and persuaded the Senonian Gauls to invade by bringing them samples of wine so delicious that they could not resist—saying, "These wines were so pleasing to the palate of the barbarians, that they were induced to quit the rich and teeming valley of the Po, to cross the Apennines, and move in battle array against Chiusi. And it is clear that the wine which Aruns selected for the purpose was the same as that which is produced to this day at Montepulciano. For nowhere else in the Etruscan district can wines of equally generous quality and fiery spirit be found, so adapted for export and capable of such long preservation" (Benci in Symonds, p. 94). "The Benci were a great people in their native town. Fabian Benci in the fifteenth century was nuncio in Poland, in Hungary, and to the Republic of Genoa. Spinello and Sinulfo Benci were, in the sixteenth century, the two first bishops of Montepulciano; and another Spinello Benci, in the next century, was secretary to Leo the Tenth, and to another of the Pope’s family, John Charles Medici, after cardinal, son of the Grand Duke John Gaston" (Goldie, p. 43). "Montepulciano, in the fourteenth century, fell under the power of the Sienese, but it became free in 1538. In the fifteenth century the Florentines possessed it, but by a sudden rising in 1495 the inhabitants threw off their yoke, and put themselves under the protection of the Sienese. In 1510, the famous Nicholas Machiavelli came as ambassador to Siena to demand back, in the name of Florence, the town of Montepulciano. The place was given up by an agreement which was approved by the citizens. Bookseller Inventory #
Title: Storia di Montepulciano… Dedicata al ...
Publisher: Amador Massi
Publication Date: 1646
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