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Attributed to Francesco Colonna (1433–1527)
Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (Poliphilo's Strife of Love in a Dream)
Printed by Aldus Manutius in Venice, 1499
Opening: Nymph Discovered by a Satyr
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan with the library of Theodore Irwin, 1900; PML 373
See CORSAIR catalog record for this item »

Because of its elegant page layout, roman typeface, and refined woodcut illustrations, this famous example of early printing has been called the most beautiful illustrated book printed in Italy in the fifteenth century. The woodcuts are thought to have been designed by Benedetto Bordone, a successful miniaturist who turned to new artistic activities in the age of printing.

Written as an allegorical romance, the Hypnerotomachia tells of Poliphilo, who pursues his love, Polia, through a dreamlike landscape. The nymph discovered by a satyr shown here is thought to have inspired Giorgione's painting of around 1510, Venus Reclining (Dresden), considered the first painting of a female nude since antiquity.

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Background images: Photography by Todd Eberle unless otherwise noted. © 2006 Todd Eberle.