PALMIERI, Matteo.. Libro della vita civile composta da Mattheo Palmieri cittadino fiorentino.

Venice, Giovanni Andrea Valvassori., 1535

Octavo (150x97mm), 99, [1] leaves, title-page with woodcut border, istoriated initials. A little worming in margins, some stains but a good copy in XVIII century stiff vellum, lettering piece on spine, blue edges.

GBP 2,000


The Libro della vita civile is considered the most important work by the Tuscan humanist and politician Matteo Palmieri, who lived in Florence from 1406 to 1475 and whose political life is to be closely related with that of the Medici family. The text agrees with the ideals of the first humanists: actually, this treatise written in Italian (as the three-book poem La città di vita, also by Palmieri) focuses on the ideal citizen, and on the qualities that make him so. The writer is chiefly concerned with citizens' education, since it is the basis for a society built on active virtues and industriousness (more specifically, on civic humanism). The work (composed in 1429, but printed only in 1528) includes four books in dialogic style, fictionally set in a country house in Mugello (a valley north-east of Florence) during the plague of 1430, with the rich Florentine merchant Agnolo Pandolfini as the main speaker. In the first book the conversation is upon Quintilian's Institutio oratoria, while the last three books regard Cicero's De Officiis. Like his father, Matteo Palmieri was very active in the civil life of his city: he became a well-known and respected public official and his personal experience strongly influenced his work. He is quoted in Vite di uomini illustri del secolo XV, by the humanist and writer Vespasiano da Bisticci (1421-1498), who puts Palmieri among the “illustrious men” of his generation to be remembered (103 biographies in all) describing him as follows: “…Venne nella sua republica in grandissima riputazione, per essere uomo pesato e grave, e di savissimo consiglio;...Matteo essere di quegli che consigliava la sua republica con grande maturità...”. A donor portrait of Matteo Palmieri (kneeling with his wife Niccolosa de' Serragli) can be found in the religious painting Assunzione della Vergine, by the Florentine Francesco Botticini (1446-1498), which was commissioned by the humanist.


Brunet IV, 334.


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