The First Monograph Devoted
To A Celebrated Work Of Art
BOCCHI, Francesco. Eccellenza della Statua del San Giorgio di Donatello Scultore Fiorentino, posta nella facciata di fuori d'Orsan Michele dove si tratta del Costume, della Vivacit della Bellezza di detta Statua. Florence, Giorgio Marescotti, 1584.
8vo., 106 pp., (3) ff., without final blank. Bound in calf, red morocco title label on spine with title gilt. Light foxing on title and scattered leaves, generally in margin and some negligible soiling on a single leaf; otherwise very good
Rare first edition of the earliest monograph devoted to a specific work of art (Schlosser, p. 391), an enthusiastic appraisal of Donatello's statue of St. George commissioned for Orsan Michele and now in the Bargello: "The treatise on Donatello's sculpture is an important document on the theory of art in Florence in the 16th century." - Grove Dictionary. Blunt (Artistic Theory) groups Bocchi in the company of such pro-Mannerist followers of Vasari as Borghini and Vincenzo Danti, and Bocchi accordingly esteems Donatello as a precursor to Michelangelo. Vasari also treats the statue in his life of the artist (I.1.330ff.)
St. George was commissioned by the Guild of Armourers in part as an advertisement for their wares. As the saint was traditionally pictured as a knight in armor, it hampered Donatello?s ability to depict limbs and movement. This the sculptor nonetheless did achieve?and brilliantly-by means of the pose: St. George is shown balanced on the balls of his feet. Blunt characterizes Bocchi's treatise generally as "typical of Florentine Mannerism in the stress which it lays on movement as the greatest source of beauty in the human figure." (Artistic theory in Italy 2nd ed., p. 102). The sculpture is also heralded as the first work of art to use Alberti's method of one-point perspective, preceding the frescoes in the Carmine by Masaccio.
Bocchi (1548-1613/18?) was a typical litterateur of the second half the 16th century, writing a great deal on a vast array of subjects-though much of it oddly remains unpublished. He also wrote what is generally regarded as the first Renaissance guide to Florence Le bellezze di Firenze (1591).
NUC records Yale and Princeton; we have also located a copy at Harvard.
* Hollis ANN5761/bks; Cicognara 3484; not in Adams; S. Menchi in DBI XI.72-4; Z. Waźbiński in Grove Dictionary of Art IV.198 (Bocchi); Blunt, Artistic Theory in Italy 2nd ed., 101-2; M. Komorowski,