Allegorical frontispiece featuring St. Peter, St. Paul, Ecclesia – or Catholic Church – and Heresy and Paganism at the very bottom. Above two angels hold an oval frame with the Madonna and Child on a moon crescent. The frontispiece is arranged as an ideal architecture in the center of which is the title and the details concerning the publisher and date. ÁNNALES | ECCLESIASTICI | AVCTORE | CAESARE BARONIO | SORANO | CONGREGATIONIS | ORATORII | PRESBITERO. || Tomus Secundus, | ab eodem recognitus et emendatus. || ANTVERPIAE | Ex officina Plantiniana, | M.D.XCI.’ Inscribed below: ‘IN PETRA EXALTAVIT ME, ET NVNC EXALTAVIT CAPVT MEVM SVPER INIMICOS MEOS.’
This title plate has a peculiar history, as documented in the article by Karen L. Bowen and Dirk Imhof, “18,257 Impressions from a Plate”, in “Print Quarterly”, vol 22, no. 3, 2005, pp. 265-279. The article discusses the unusual amount of information concerning the various editions of Baronius’ Annales. In particular, on p. 270, the authors suggest: ‘Four distinct title-plates are known to have been used at the Plantin-Moretus Press to mark the start of the various volumes of Baronius’s Annales published there: three plates in the period 1589-1600 and one in the period 1601-1658″. The documents related to the first year inform roughly on the payments for the impressions of the title-plate. Between 1589 and 1593 these were made to Mynken Liefrinck. Therefore, she received the payment also for the 1591 edition of which the present title-page is an expression (Museum Plantijn Moretus Arch. 21, fol. 98). In a more recent publication, Imhof confirms that “Between 16 July and 13 September 1591 Mynken Liefrinck was paid for 875 impressions of the title page and 850 impressions of the two other intaglios (…)” [Jan Moretus and the Continuation of the Plantin Press: A Bibliography of the Works published and printed by Jan Moretus I in Antwerp (1589-1610), 2014, pp. 47-49].
This is the first impression presenting two incinerators on each side of the top part of the architecture. This feature will disappear in the following etched impressions, substituted with only one smoking vase. Later copies published in Venice and in Meintz some nine or ten years hereafter, present the same composition but in reverse, evidence of the success of its iconography.
Engraving on paper; plate mark: 317 x 189 mm, total: 344 x 203 mm; mounted on cardboard; some lacunas filled in with reuse of paper from other prints. These lacunas are located one on the left external margin, and one on the top right corner, where the drawn contour of the picture is replaced in pen and dark brown ink. Some staining and foldings, dirt but understandable given age. Rare from the first edition of the second volume. Date of print 1591, published in Antwerp by Jan Moretus I.
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