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[DE PISIS, BARTHOLOMAEUS (i.e.RINONICO, BARTOLOMEO)] [St. Francis of Assisi]
Opus Auree & inexplicabilis bonitatis & continentie. Conformitatu[m] scilicet vite Beati Fra[ncisci] ad vita[m] d[omini] n[ost]ri Jesu [Christ]
[Liber conformitatum]
Price: $5,500
Printed by Zanotto da Castiglione, Milan, August 18, 1513. Edited by Joannes Mapellus.

"Belle et rare edition" (Olschki).

The RARE 2nd Edition of the remarkable and controversial work is, virtually, an exact reprint of the 1st eition (Milan, 1510), and is also the last complete early edition of the work, as in the next edition published at Bologna in 1590 and all the subsequent editions (until the twentieth century) the text was mutilated and corrupted at almost every page, with many passages modified or omitted, especially in the historical parts.

The work gave great offence to the Reformers, who deemed it full of "horrid blasphemies" and called it "Alcoran of the Franciscans." In 1543 the book was held up to ridicule by the German humanist Erasmus Alber in his "Der Barfusser Monche Eulenspiegel und Alkoran" printed at Wittenberg with a preface by Martin Luther. An English version was published by Grafton in London in 1550, entitled "The alcaron of the barefote friers, that is to say, an heape or numbre of the blasphemous and trifling doctrines of the wounded idole Saint Frances, taken out of the boke of his rules, called in latin, Liber conformitatum."

It should be noted, however, that, although the parallels between the lives of Jesus Christ and St. Francis, which form the basis of the "Liber conformitatum," are sometimes forced, nowhere does it make St. Francis the equal of Christ. Side by side with fantastic legends, visions and prophecies, it contains valuable historical information. It is considered a source of great importance for Franciscan history. (cf. the Catholic Encyclopedia)

"The Liber Conformitatum, upon which Brother Bartolomeo, beginning in 1385, spent more than fifteen years, displays, with subtle analysis, the resemblance, feature by feature, of Francis and Jesus." (E. Gebhart, Mystics and Heretics in Italy at the End of the Middle Ages, p.273).

Kristeller notes the fine wooduts ilustrating this edition: "Gute zum Teil umfangreiche Holzschnitte des Schraffierten Stils" (Kristeller, Lombard. Grafik, p.44, 72).

The fine itle-page printed in red & black is embellished with a superb large woodcut showing Christ (leading) and St Francis both bearing crosses; within a woodcut border. The magnificent full-page "Arbor conformitatum" woodcut with black background on 2a4v, showing the "tree of conformities", on which Christ is crucified; with St Francis and a monk, kneeling at foot of the tree. Mortimer remarks that "this representation of the material of the text in the form of a tree was part of the original manuscript submitted by Bartholomaeus for approbation in 1399." (Mortimer/Harvard (Italian), 44).
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Physical description.
Folio (leaves measure 285 mm x 207 mm).

Bound in 17th (?) cetury full vellum, with yapped edges, two pairs of ties renewed, new printed paper label to spine. Foliation: [12], 229 ff.

Signature collation: a12 a-z8 [et]8 [con]8 [rum]8 A-B8 C6 [-C6, blank]. COMPLETE, except for the final blank.

Printed in Gothic letter; double column.

Title printed in red & black, with superb large woodcut showing Christ (leading) and St Francis both bearing crosses; within a woodcut border, left side of which is composed of eight blocks showing various saints. Magnificent full-page "Arbor conformitatum" woodcut on black background on leaf 2a4v, showing the "tree of conformities" (with placards hanging from branches, presenting the 40 conformities of the lives of Christ and St Francis) on which Christ is crucified; figures of St Francis and a monk are pictured kneeling at foot of the tree. with text captions printed in red.

A smaller rather dramatic woodcut of two hands (Chrit's and St. Francis's?) nailed to the same cross on a1r, repeated on q8v.

Numerous woodcut initials of various styles and sizes (many quite large), including a large C with an angel blowing trumpet; a large S with a figure of St Francis; D with king David, etc. and others, mostly white floral, white on black and grotesque (including a striking 15-line white-on-black M with a skull).

Colophon on C5v with woodcut white-on-black printer's device. Editor's dedicatory epistle to Cardinale Marco Vegerio on verso of title. Table of Contents on a2r-a12v,

A few curious whimsical drawings in a 16th-century hand, including St. Francis (?) "shaking hands" with a wolf, with inscription "Frater lupe".
Condition.
Upper right corner of title (a1) restored just touching the woodcut border. Some infrequent early (probably contemporary) underlining and manuscript marginal notes or pointing hands, and a few curious marginal drawings (one partially shaved off). Title with several early inscriptions or possession notes (some crossed out). Title and the next leaf (a1,2) with minor worming without loss. Occasional minor soiling, some light browing; colophon leaf with a closed tear and minor abrasion to verso slightly affecting the device. Otherwise good, solid, very clean, complete copy of this rare, beautifully printed post-incunable. Binding with some wear to corners, and minor repairs.
Provenance.
Some early (16th-century) manuscript marginalia, and a few curious whimsical drawings, including St. Francis (?) holding a wolf's paw with the inscription "Frater lupe".

Several early inscriptions on title-page, including a possession note in Latin, dated 1795, of F.J. Bodmann of Mainz, a noted historian of religion.

Bookplates of Georg Kloss (1787 - 1854) of Frankfurt am Main, the famous German historian of Freemasonry and a noted book collector, with his inscription citing Panzer, and calling this edition "rarissima" (as also does Bodmann in his inscription on title).

Bookplate of the Library of the Convent of Poor Clares, Woodchester, Stroud, Gloucestershire.
Bibliographical references.
Graesse IV, p.197; Brunet III, p.122; Olschki, Choix 4567; cf. Mortimer/Harvard (Italian), 44.
Notes.
The Liber Conformitatum, is of great value for the history of the Franciscans, although admittedly marred by exaggerations and lack of judgment and good taste (e.g., he states that Francis was foretold in the Old Testament by prototypes and prophecies, that he performed miracles and prophesied, and that he was crucified and is exalted above the angels). T.H. Darlow ('The Expositor', vol. IX, 1884, p.225) noted that "the Liber Conformitatum, though tedious, is full of careful research; its numerous and exact quotations preserve long fragments of lost works on the Saint. M. Sabatier [in his ] goes so far as to declare of this neglected book: 'Je n'hesite cependant pas a y voir l'ouvrage le plus important qui ait ete fait sur la vie de S. Francois'." (T.H. Darlow, in 'The Expositor', vol. IX, 1884, p.225)

The book contains the first appearance in print of St. Francis' Il Cantico delle Creature ("The.Canticle of the Creatures", also known as "The Canticle of Brother Sun")

The author of this influential work, Bartholomaeus de Pisis (Bartholomew of Pisa) is commonly identified with Bartolomeo Rinonico, a 14th-century Italian Franciscan monk and chronicler. He was a Pisan of noble family, and In 1352 was a student at Bologna and later filled the office of Lector there as well as at Padua, Pisa, Sienna, and Florence. He also preached for many years in various Italian cities. He died about 1401, renowned no less for sanctity than for learning, and is commemorated in the Franciscan Martyrology on 4 November.

Bartholomew's chief claim to fame rests upon this remarkable book, Liber conformitatumbook (or "De Conformitate Vitae B. P. Francisco ad Vitam Domini Nostri Jesu Christi"), begun in 1385 and formally approved by the general chapter of his Order held at Assisi in 1399. Enthusiastically received on its appearance and long held in high esteem, this work became the object of bitter attacks by Lutherans and Jansenists.

Some bibliographers identify the author with Bartolomeo Albizzi.
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