Vida, y Virtudes de la Serenissima Señora Da. Maria Ana, Reyna de Portugal…. Joseph RITTER, José GUERRA, trans.
Vida, y Virtudes de la Serenissima Señora Da. Maria Ana, Reyna de Portugal…
First Spanish Translation
With an Unusual Engraved Ex Libris Printed Directly on Frontispiece
[Women] / [Jesuits] / [Americana].
Madrid, Antonio Marin, 1757.

Vida, y Virtudes de la Serenissima Señora Da. Maria Ana, Reyna de Portugal….

8vo. (1) f. engraved portrait of Maria Ana, (12) ff., 282 pp, engraved ex libris with arms of an Austrian nobleman (see below) printed on verso of portrait. Bound in contemporary calf with gilt trim to spine, pages clean and fresh, an excellent and very well-preserved copy.

Rare first edition of this Spanish translation of the life of Queen Maria Ana of Portugal. For a period of 8 years during her husband’s illness, Maria Ana controlled one of the most powerful European empires of the 18th century, and, according to Ritter, took a special interest in missionary activities in the her most distant domains. Produced under the patronage of Maria Ana’s daughter, Queen Barbara, the present translation brings for the first time to a vernacular audience the life of this formidable femme forte.

Father Guerra, a Spanish Jesuit, explains in his introduction his desire to translate the Latin biography of Joseph Ritter (published the previous year in Vienna) for a Spanish audience. The work covers the Queen’s childhood at the Hapsburg court before moving on to her marriage to John V of Portugal and the period of her motherhood. Ritter praises her tenure as Regent (1742-50) during John’s prolonged illness, and details her responsibilities, including her passing of many laws, not only in Portugal, but also in her overseas territories. The second half of the work is taken up with a discussion of Maria Ana’s extreme piety and devotion and includes a chapter (XVI) on the Queen’s “zeal for the missions in India, and the favors she granted the missionaries.” From the coasts of Africa to Brazil, India, China, and Japan (“at the end of the world”), Maria Ana apparently took a great interest in the religious activities of Jesuit missionaries. According to Ritter, the Queen had a special fondness for maps of Asia and Brazil, on which she could track the progress of these evangelical activities.

Evincing the strong bonds of the brief 18th-century Spanish-Portuguese alliance, the present translation is dedicated Queen Barbara of Spain, formerly the Infanta of Portugal and daughter of Queen Maria Ana. Soon friendly relations between the two countries would collapse during the Seven Years’ War, culminating in the Spanish invasion of Portugal in 1762.

The present copy is unusual in having a coat of arms printed in sepia on the verso of the portrait. We have checked three copies (Penn and two at Catholic University), and none contains this blazon. We therefore hypothesize that the ex libris is specific to this copy (rather than a general feature of the work), and that it must have been added between the time of printing and when the book was bound, e.g., when it was in sheets. M. Jean-François Chassaing, President of the Association Française pour la Connaissance de l’Ex-Libris, kindly informs that the arms are very close to those of the Austrian House of Ivoy.

OCLC shows 4 copies in America of this vernacular translation: Penn, Catholic University of America, Indiana University, and Williams College. The original Latin is held by Harvard, Library of Congress, and Loyola.

* Palau 269578.

Price: $950.00

See all items in Rare Books
See all items by , ,