The article seems quite important to republish. In it Ricketts discusses an incunable that he had taken as an example for an early Vale Press book, the edition of Daphnis and Chloe in 1893. This edition was received as an important testimony of the modern movement in book arts.
Ricketts's review of the Methuen facsimile edition of the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili was published in The Speaker of 25 February 1905.
There were no illustrations (I have added some for this blog).
The Hypnerotomachia Poliphili and Its Character
The Facsimile of the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili. London: Methuen. ￡3. 3s. net.
The publishers are to be congratulated on this facsimile of the Hypnerotomachia. The printing is good, the reproduction, on the whole, is excellent. It counts as a notable effort to make accessible the most harmonious volume ever printed, for the Hypnerotomachia is the flower of the Italian presses. In this work the several composing elements - the build, decoration, and the dainty illustration - each touches what is very like perfection; and they are so combined that the result is unsurpassed.
|Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (Methuen, 1904)|
The author, Francesco Colonna, in his cell in the convent of SS. Giovanni e Paolo, is responsible for the publication of a work which, in its aspect, is all Spring.
|Canaletto, Campo santi Giovanni e Paolo a Venezia col monumento a Bartolomeo Colleoni (painting, c. 1740)|
If the illustrations and decorations of the Hypnerotomachia are typical of a period, are they typical of Venice? I think not. In Venetian art we are unprepared for the temper they reveal. The kind of half-childish patheism which characterises them is singular; yet, if we find evidence of a similar vein of thought in the work of the Florentine craftsman and artisan, we shall not recognise this spirit in the books and booklets issued by the Florentine presses. Florence, the home of the Renaissance, the city of the humanists, lags in the value and importance of her output in the history of printing. Venice, benefiting by her cosmopolitanism, takes the lead in all matters concerning the build and making of books; she owes to her powers of absorption her two greatest designers of type, a German and a Frenchman. We must not be surprised if her greatest triumph in book illustration comes to us with an unexpected quality and something foreign in invention and temper.
|Verdizotti, Cento Favole Morali (1570)|
[photo: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York]
|Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (1499)|
|Herodotus, Historiae (Venice, 1494)|
[image: Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library,
Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut]