Emblemas Morales.Segovia, Juan de la Cuesta,



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Woodcut armorial device of author on title page, repeated on title leaves of each part and final leaf, 101 woodcut emblems numbered in two series, each within architectural border. 

4to (200 x 136mm). 101, [9], 104 [i.e. 204], [28]ff. Slightly later Spanish limp vellum, yapp edges, title in ms on spine, speckled edges. 

First edition of the first emblem book printed in Spain, compiled by Spanish writer and later bishop of Agrigento and Guadix, Juan Horozco y Covarrubias (c.1540-1610).

The work is structured in three parts; the first explains the concept of emblems and devices, their use, history and significance, and serves as an introduction to the following two illustrated parts which contain 100 emblems. Campa describes it as, "the most important treatise on Spanish emblem theory in the Spanish sixteenth century". Each emblem comprises a large woodcut accompanied by verse below, in Spanish, all enclosed in an elaborate architectural border. The emblem is followed by a several-page explanation that draws on both biblical and classical sources, complete with printed citations and index notes alongside, in the outer border.  Some woodcuts contain mottos in Latin, and occasionally in Spanish.

The emblems show the general influence of Bocchi, Coustau and Christian Stoicism, with less attention paid to practical virtue and more stress laid upon the most general philosophical and religious tenets taken from Biblical and classical sources - above all the themes of security and peace of the soul. J.-M. Chatelain remarks that Horozco shows a tendency to "streamlining" and greater clarity compared to his only Spanish predecessor (Borjas' Emblemas Morales, Prague, 1581), both in iconography and text.


'Juan Horozco y Covarrubias was a Spanish prelate of Seville, and bishop of the Sicilian See of Agrigento. He was a native of Toledo, and the nephew of Don Diego Covarrubias y Leiva, the eminent Spanish theologist, to whom this book of emblems is dedicated. Don Juan was the victim of slander on the part of the clergy and laity of his diocese, in connection with some of his publications. He was obliged to appear at Rome to vindicate his character, but many years elapsed before he could prove his innocence' (Maggs cat. 495, no.470). 

This is only the printer Juan de la Cuesta's second book; he later moved to Madrid and is notable for printing the first edition of Don Quixote there in 1605.

Provenance: 1. Initials 'M.D.H.' inked in an early hand at the foot of title page, partly obscured by worming. 2. Ex libris of Kenneth Rapoport. 

Small worm track to blank lower margin at the beginning and end, title with light damp stain at upper outer corner, occasional light browning otherwise a fresh copy.


Praz, 374. Landwehr Romantic, 394. Campa SF1. Palau 116236. Salva II, 2080. Maggs, Catalogue 495, Spanish Books (1927), no. 470.

Stock Code: 246882

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