4to. [23 x 17.5 cm], (8) ff. including full-page engraved frontispiece and full-page emblem of the Academy, 432 pp. with the engraved portraits, biographies and bibliographies of 106 members of the Academy. Bound in near-contemporary vellum over boards, gilt calf title label on spine, covers soiled, old ownership inscription in ink on fly leaf, a little fingersoiling on title and initial leaves, some dampstaining, toning and minor foxing throughout; a good copy with very good impressions of the plates.
Rare first edition of this portrait book of members of the Venetian Accademia degli Incogniti, representing a Who’s Who of the more libertine and belligerent literati of early 17th-century northern Italy: of particular interest to women’s studies and the history of music. In total 106 members are listed each with a portrait, a biography, and a bibliography of their published writings.
The Accademia degli Incogniti was founded in 1630 by the Venetian patrician Francesco Loredan and grouped together the elite of Venetian intellectual life. Many of its members having studied at Padua under Cesare Cremonini, a strong current of naturalistic philosophy and libertinism prevailed which found expression in a pronounced love for paradoxes and contradictions.
The present work, though published anonymously, is now generally attributed to Girolamo Brusoni (see DBI, vol. XIV, p. 713 and Michel vol. I, p. 222. Other sources have suggested the involvement of Loredan and Giovanni Battista Moroni (see Piantida 3607 and Melzi, vol. I, p. 465.)
* Biblioteca Nazionale Firenze record FI0098. See also Miato, L’accademia degli Incogniti (Florence, Olschki, 1998); Heller, “Tacitus Incognito: Opera as History,” Journal of the American Musicological Society 52 (1999), pp. 39-96; Rosand, “Barbara Strozzi, virutosissima cantatrice,” Journal of the American Musicological Society 31 (1978), pp. 241-81.