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Hieronymi Mercurialis De Arte Gymnastica Libri Sex. In Quibus Exercitationum Omnium vetstarum genera, local, modi facultates, & quidquid denique ad corporis humani exercitationes pertinet, diligenter explicatur. Teretia edition correctiiores, & auctiores facti. Opus non modo medicis, veerum etiam omnibus antiquarum rerur cognoscendarum, & valetudinis conferuandae studiosis admodum utile. Ad Maximillian M II. Imperatorum

MERCURIALE (Girolamo):

  • Publisher: Venetiis Apud Iuntas. 1587
Venetiis Apud Iuntas. 1587. 4to, 237 x 162 mms., pp. [xii], 1 - 53 [two pages numbered 53], 54 - 56, 56 - 308 [309 - 334, with page 305 mis-numbered 283], two preliminary leaves [pp. ix - xi] bound between pp. [330] and [331] in index [leaves Xiii and Xiv, with small leaf inserted explaining in Italian where the misbound leaves are to be found], with two illustrations at pages 22 and 23, and 21 full-page woodcuts at pages 31, 45, 55, 56, 89, 93, 98, 104, 106, 112, 113, 114, 120, 122, 124, 125, 127, 148, 151, 155, and 164, figure in text on p. 166, title-page with engraved woodcut, contemporary vellum (slightly soiled); remains of ties, some waterstaining on pages 53 - 54, small corner torn from lower pages of pp. 179 - 180, natural paper flaw at top margin of pages 225 - 232 [P - Pii], slightly affecting running title on page 231 - 232, contemporary marginal annotations on pages 182 and 229, ownership inscription (probably 18th century) of "Carioli Guarini/ Medico [?Bavgornerii]" on recto of front free end-paper. A good copy. This is Mercuriale's "masterwork", as Sarah Andrews explains on the website of the John Martin Rare Book Room of the University of Iowa: "De arte gymnastica was the first complete text on gymnastics and stresses the importance that all forms of exercise have in maintaining good health. Relying heavily on ancient practices, this work is an excellent compendium of physical therapy of earlier times. Mercuriale describes ancient gymnasia and baths and discusses mild exercises such as dancing as well as more strenuous pursuits such as wrestling and boxing. He gives consideration to the health benefits of proper exercise and concludes the book with a section of therapeutic exercises." Mercuriale (1530 - 1606) came to European fame when he published this work in 1569, with a second edition in 1573, the first to be illustrated. In this edition, the woodcuts were made by Cristoforo Coriolani from drawings by Pirro Ligorio (1510-1583). Vivian Nutton notes that " Modern scholarship has recognized that these illustrations were largely speculative creations of Mercuriale and his collaborators.[1] (It was not however the first Renaissance book about the benefits of exercise; Cristobal Méndez's Libro del Exercicio (1553), which was rediscovered in 1930, predates it by 16 years." Durling 3090; Garrison-Morton 1986); Brunet III:1646; Wellcome IV, p.116; Olser 3387.

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