TUCCARO, Arcangelo. Trois dialogues de l'exercise de sauter et voltiger en l'air. , 197 ff, (misnumbered throughout). Illustrated with woodcut title vignette, large folding woodcut plate (270 x 385 mm), 87 large woodcuts throughout text (many full-page, some repeating). 4to., 215 x 165 mm, bound nineteenth-century vellum over boards, brown leather spine label stamped in gilt. Paris: Chez Claude de Monstr'oeil, 1599.
Rare First Edition. Tuccaro's illustrated work on acrobatics is widely recognized as one of the first tier illustrated books of the Renaissance. The Trois Dialogues offers substantial details on theatrical dance during the late sixteenth century, and it represents the first printed work on floor exercises.
Arcangelo Tuccaro (1535-1602) was an Italian gymnastics instructor, tightrope walker and "saltarin du Roi." In 1570 it is recorded that he accompanied Isabel, daughter of Austrian Emperor Maximilian II, from Vienna to the French court of Charles IX. According to the "Epistle" to King Henri IV appearing at the beginning of the Trois Dialogues, he must have instructed King Charles in the art of tumbling. Little else is known about the author other than a slight reference to him by Tomasso Garzoni, who in 1568 called him an extraordinarily gifted tumbler and by Vincenzo Belando, who in 1588 dedicated his Lettere facete e chiribizzose to "signor Arcangelo Tuccaro, Saltarino de Re, christianissimo Suo conpare osservandissimo."
The text is divided into three "dialogues" set during the wedding festivities in Touraine in 1570: the first examines exercise as practiced in antiquity, the art of saltare and the importance of dance. The second "dialogue" offers an in-depth description of acrobatic movements and is accompanied by a large number of skillfully-designed woodcuts showing trained acrobats performing leaps, somersaults, handstands, vaulting spins and twists, take-off and landing techniques, etc. The one woodcut that exceeds all others is the large folding plate showing an acrobat in three successive stages soaring through ten hoops held by ten men; size 270 x 385 mm. This illustration represents a tour-de-force of the French Renaissance woodcut. The third dialogue focuses on the medical benefits of formal exercise and its positive influence on human behavior and physical welfare, often using quite modern-sounding arguments.
The book is rare: six copies are recorded by OCLC in America: Harvard, Getty, New York Public, Syracuse, Newberry Library and Illinois State University; 5 copies have appeared at auction as per ABPC since 1978. Lower right margin professional restored on several leaves, not effecting the text or plates. The illustration on leaf Cc is embellished with an early ink addition of a hat and pipe to the featured acrobat. Overall an exceptionally clean copy of a book often found toned and browned due to the paper stock, with a very nice example of the fold-out plate often lacking in copies.
PROVENANCE: Maurice Jean Monsaingeon, with his bookplate on the front fly-leaf.
Fairfax Murray French 553 (lacking folding plate). Lipperheide 3037. Brun, Le livre francais illustré de la renaissance 306. Brunet V, 972-73. Adams T 1017. Rahir 663. See: Alessandro Arcangeli, Renaissance Dance and Writing; the Case of Acangelo Tuccaro on Academia.edu.
Item nr. 163853