Printed in Blue

Alessandro Tassoni (1565-1635), La Secchia Rapita [The Captured Bucket]. Poema Eroicomico di Alessandro Tassoni Patrizio Modenese. Colle dichiarazioni di Gaspare Salviani, Romano. S’Aggiungono la Prefazione, e le Annotazioni di Giannandrea Barotti, Ferrarese; e la Vita del Poeta Composta da Lodovico Antonio Muratori Bibliotecario del Serenissimo Signor Duca di Modena (Modena: Bartolomeo Soliani Stamp. Ducale, 1744). Provenance: book plate of Marco di Carrobio. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2017- in process.

The War of the Oaken Bucket began late in 1325, when Malatestino dell Occhio, Lord of Rimini, led the Bolognese from Florence and Romagna to the fort at Monteveglio (12 miles west of Bologna) to regain a bucket of treasure stolen by the Modenese.

Nearly three hundred years later in 1622, Tassoni published a mock-epic poem called La Secchia Rapita, which has also been translated as The Rape of the Bucket or The Stolen Bucket. Many translations and new edition followed, including two in 1744. The Graphic Arts Collection recently acquired the larger of the two, called “stimmatissima edizione” and “belle edition,” and one of the few copies with the plates printed with blue ink.

“The poem is pervaded by an exuberant, satirical, and often brilliant humor. There are passages in which the humor is sustained and cumulative, and others in which an apparent seriousness finds its climate in a sudden hilarious absurdity” (Ernest Hatch Wilkins (1880-1966), A History of Italian Literature (1974) (F) PQ4038.W5 1974 pp. 298-9).

Based on the life of Alessandro Tassoni by Muratori, this edition includes a commentary by Giovanni Andrea Barotti, and notes by the author written under the pseudonym Gaspare Salviani.

Many of the best artists of the period worked on this publication, including engravings by Giuseppe Benedetti (1707-1782); Andrea Bolzoni (1689-1760); Francesco Zucchi (1692-1764);
and Antonio Zuliani from designs by Bartolomeo Bonvicini; Domenico Maria Fratta (1696-1763); Pietro Gradici; and Francesco Villani, among others.

“Intaglio colour printing developed only gradually before 1700. Monochrome colour-printed engravings and etchings appear regularly from the fifteenth century, and some experiments with polychrome intaglio printing date from the time that chiaroscuro woodcut emerged en force in the 1520s…. The reasons for monochrome colour printing may have ranged from practical, such as to distinguish designs for goldsmiths (printed in yellow-brown) from those for silversmiths (printed in blue), to commercial, making the prints more attractive to collectors. — “Colour Printing in intaglio before c.1700,” in Printing Colour 1400-1700: History, Techniques, Functions and Receptions (2015).


See also:
Alexander Pope (1688-1744), The Rape of the Lock: an Heroic-Comical Poem in Five Canto’s [sic]. 2nd ed. (London: Printed for Bernard Lintott, 1714). Rare Books (Ex) 3897.374.11

Alessandro Tassoni (1565-1635), La Secchia Rapita; Poema Eroicomico … con le dichiarationi del sig. Gasparo Salviani [pseud.] el primo canto dell’ oceano nell’ vltimo corretti con gli originali (Bologna: Per G. Longhi [1670]). Editor: Paulino Castelucchio. Rare Books (Ex) 3138.01.38