Elementorum libros ... Bartolomeo Zamberto Veneto interprete

Venice: Giovanni Tacuino, IX 1505, 2°
Venice, Fondazione Giorgio Cini onlus, FOAN TES 233

Bartolomeo Zamberti (1473–post 1539), Venetian humanist and pupil of Giorgio Valla, wrote the comedy Dolotechne in 1504. In his dedication to Girolamo Savorgnan he announced the upcoming release of what we might consider his masterpiece, namely the printed version of Euclid’s writings – hard work that had worn him out (Zamberti 1504, f. n.n. marked A2r). The said edition, in addition to the Elements, contains other works written by Euclid: Phaenomena, Catoptrica (or Specularia), Optica (or Perspectiva) and Data. Zamberti did not conduct his edition according to Campano’s Latin text (Giovanni Campano from Novara conducted, before 1260, his version of Elements in Latin: this edition was printed for the first time in 1482, in Venice, by a printer from Augsburg named Erhard Ratdolt [1447–1528] in a folio edition with 136 sheets, dedicated to the doge Giovanni Mocenigo), but rather according to the manuscript of the Greek edition by Theon of Alexandria (data 365–395) and to a small extent by Pappus, another Alexandrian mathematician from the close of the fourth century B.C. (Rose 1975, pp. 50–52; Steck 1981, no. III.3.). This fundamental edition was printed in November 1505 in Venice by Giovanni Tacuino (the same printer of the 1511 edition of Vitruvius’ De Architectura, edited by Giovanni Giocondo) and it was dedicated to Guidubaldo da Montefeltro (ff. 1r–6v), who was exiled in Venice since 1502, representing a fundamental moment in the Venetian culture of mathematics during the early-sixteenth century (Fara forthcoming). A culture that middle-aged Albrecht Dürer, who was also in Venice during that period, tried to transplant into Germany by purchasing in 1507 – probably during the month of January, shortly before his return to Nuremberg, as evidenced by the note of ownership on its title page: “A.D. | Dz puch hab Ich | zw Venedich vm | ein Dugatn kawft | Im 1507 jor | albrecht Dürer [A.D. (in monogram) has purchased this book for the sum of one ducat in Venice during the year 1507. Albrecht Dürer]” – a copy of the book edited by Zamberti, which is today preserved in the Herzoglichen Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel (Schauerte 2003, no. 130). Between 1507 and 1510, during the preparation of the vast and never concluded Lehrbuch der Malerei, the book was to become the object of Dürer’s studies and conversations with his friend Willibald Pirckheimer: as he was the first to observe a young Panofsky in 1915, the eleven Supposizen and the forty Theoremata contained in the Durerian codex Additional 5229 of The British Library (ff. 77, 211–216r) are none other than a translation of Euclid’s text on perspective published by Zamberti (Panofsky 1915, pp. 14–20; Dürer 1956–1969, II, pp. 372–378).

Giovanni Maria Fara