Venice: appresso Gabriel Giolito de' Ferrari, 1559.
Duodecimo: 134,  p. Collation: A-F12
THIRD GIOLITO EDITION.
Bound in 17th c. vellum, citron label, gilt, to spine. All edges blue. Title lightly toned, text a little loose. Two woodcut headpieces, four woodcut initials in text. Two versions of printer’s phoenix device (title and final leaf).
The first edition of Colonna's “Rime” was printed in Parma by Viotto in 1538 and presented 145 poems of which 9 by other authors. The 1546 edition of Valgrisi (the first with the title Rime spirituali) comprised 180 poems. This edition, the second printed by Giolito (first published in 1552), was edited by the Venetian humanist Lodovico Dolce (1508-1568).
The poetic production of Vittoria Colonna comprises two main characters: one profane, which consists of Petrarchan poems celebrating the love for her husband, the Marquis of Pescara Francesco D'Avalos, whom she married in 1509 and who died in battle in 1525; and one sacred, in which the personal pain for the loss of her husband is transfigured and becomes more and more universal up to a point in which it coincides with the pain of Christ on the cross. If in the first editions of the Rime (all printed between 1538 and 1539) the spiritual character occupies only a small part of the collection, it gradually increases over the years reaching its summit in the 1548 Valgrisi edition, as reflected by the title Rime spirituali (the “Seconda parte” of this 1559 edition.) The editor of this edition, Lodovico Dolce, had been involved in publishing and editing the poetry of Italian women writers since the 1540s, when he edited Laura Terracina’s poems for Giolito.
“Although Colonna literary activity spanned over twenty years, her lyrics are clearly marked by a uniform maturity of style. She achieved a highly successful balance between, on the one hand, “correct” poetic language (in which she imitated Petrarch rigorously) and content (unblemished devotion to the memory of her husband); and on the other hand a perfect harmony between stylistic tension (always in search of a “high” linguistic register both in vocabulary and syntax) and an exploration of feelings (from the mourning of her husband to divine love and the contemplation of Christ), which excludes any trace of light-heartedness or lover's playfulness” (L. Panizza & S. Wood, eds., A History of Women's Writing in Italy, Cambridge, 2000, p. 38).
Vittoria Colonna was the most famous Italian poetess of his day. It was the only artist, with the only exception of Michelangelo (on whom she had a great human and literary influence), to receive in her time the attribute of “Divine”. Her court soon became a circle of reformed ideas. Despite the highly intimate nature of her poetry, in it are clearly visible the religious ideas of reformed thinkers such as Juan de Valdes, Bernardino Ochino, and Reginald Pole (cf. F.A. Bassanese, Vittoria Colonna, in: “Italian Women Writers: A Bio-bibliographical Sourcebook”, Westport CT, 1994, pp. 85-94).
M. Bandini Buti, Poetesse e scrittrici, Rome, 1941, I, pp. 164-171; A. Erdmann, My Gracious Silence, Lucerne, 1999, p. 211.