London: Methuen, 1904. Folio, modern full brick morocco, spine lettered and ruled in gilt, text block uncut. Facsimile of the 1499 Aldine first edition, including the 172 original woodcuts by an unknown hand; additional paper spine label tipped in. Two extra leaves laid in, including the uncensored Priapus plate. Bookplate of Pickford Waller, featuring a nude figure, designed by Austin Osman Spare.
Modern fine press edition of Francesco Colonna's 1499 Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, originally published in Venice by Aldus Manutius, often considered the most beautiful book of the Italian Renaissance. The convoluted narrative, “the strife of love in a dream,” follows Poliphilo in pursuit of his beloved Polia, a quest that forces him through a series of allegorical landscapes and trials, ending only when he awakes. The book's fame rests on its extraordinary woodcuts, precise and dreamlike, which influenced generations of artists. The Hypnerotomachia served as a source book of Renaissance imagery, a detailed architectural record, and a showcase for Aldus's typographic and compositional virtuosity, featuring Greek, Hebrew, and Arabic types, and even hieroglyphics. (The iconic woodcut of the elephant and obelisk made its way to Salvador Dalí by way of Gian Lorenzo Bernini.) This 1904 Methuen edition is a page-for-page facsimile of the 1499 Aldine first edition. From the library of illustrator Pickford Waller, with an extraordinary 1921 bookplate by Austin Osman Spare, the English artist and occultist “popularly compared at different times with Beardsley, Albrecht Dürer, William Blake, Michelangelo, and Rembrandt,” and condemned as “a black magician” by Aleister Crowley himself (DNB). A fine copy, handsomely bound by Philip Dusel.