Incunabula Leaf Hypnerotomachia

rectorecto Item: One Incunabula Leaf
Title: Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (Strife of Love in a Dream)
Author: Anonymous (Francesco Colonna)

Printer: Aldus Manutius
Place of Printing: Venice
Date of Printing: 1499
Format: Folio
Language: Italian

Biography of Francesco Colonna

Francesco Colonna (ca. 1433-1527) was a Venetian Dominican monk. Colonna taught at the convent of the Dominicans at Treviso teaching literature and rhetoric. Later he taught Theology at the University of Padua. Near the end of his life, he was connected with the monastery in Venice of Saints Giovanni and Paolo. Colonna is credited with writing the Hypnerotomachia because the first letters of the chapters translate to “Brother Francesco Colonna greatly loved Polia.” Colonna also wrote Delfili Somnium, the "Dream of Delfilo” which was not published during his lifetime.

Hypnerotomachia Poliphili

Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (Strife of Love in a Dream) is the story of Poliphilius, who has an unrequited love of Polia. Poliphilius falls asleep and then dreams of visiting ancient buildings and monuments. He comes into the presence of Queen Eleuterylida who asks him about his love. He tells of Polia. She appears and they watch four extravagant triumphal processions. Polia and Poliphili are then rowed by Nymphs to the Island of Cythera. The couple relate their adventures of love. Finally, Poliphilus awakes and realizes that it was all just a dream.

Bernard de la Monnoye called this book the most tedious and the most extravagant species of romance that can be imagined.

Our Copy

The recto page has a woodcut illustration on the top of the page. It appears to be Poliphilius with two women receiving a crown and palm-branch fixed upon a sword from the hand of a matron followed by six women. The typeface is Bembo, which was cut for Manutius by Francesco Griffo. The verso page has no illustrations and continues with the Bembo typeface. The leaf is amazing modern-looking and it is hard to believe that it was produced in the 15th Century. This original leaf is found in Aldus Pius Manutius. With an essay by Theodore Low De Vinne together with a leaf from the Aldine Hypnertomachia Poliphili printed at Venice in 1499. Printed in San Francisco by Grabhorn Press for the Book Club of California 1924.

Aldus Manutius

Aldus Manutius (11450-1515) was a humanist scholar who studied the classics in the universities at Rome and Ferrara. He then became the tutor to the Duke of Carpi’s children. In 1485, he moved to Venice to begin a printing business. There he entered into a partnership with Andrea Torresano (1451-1529). Manutius used his educational background to choose the Latin and Greek works to be published and edited them. Since Manutius knew Greek, he particularly worked to bring these volumes to the public. He was especially noted for his compact pocket editions that were easy to carry.


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