Parma: Expensis & labore Francisci Mazalis, 1505.
Folio: 30.3 x 21.5 cm. , 176,  lvs.
THE RENOWNED PARMA OVID.
Bound in twentieth-century stiff vellum. A broad-margined copy, some leaves gently washed, contemporary annotations to some leaves, occ. use of light colored wash to the woodcuts, insignificant mild soiling. Illustrated with 59 woodcuts. This is the only book known under Mazali's imprint at Parma (he was established at Reggio Emilia until 1504) and is Mazali's last known work. The woodcuts are largely based on the very rare (there are only two complete copies in North America) Rosso-Giunta Ovid edition in Italian, published in Venice in 1497. Seven completely new woodcuts were added for this 1505 edition.
“The additions to the corpus of figured stories from the Parma edition supply what was missing in the Venetian version, where relevant episodes, such as the stories of Narcissus or Arachne, were not illustrated… The Parma edition’s set of images constitutes the most complete corpus, which becomes the model for the long list of Venetian and French illustrated editions of the poem that follow.”(Díez-Platas)
“The figurative series of the 1497 Venetian edition represented a new paradigm for the visual presentation of the contents of the ‘Metamorphoses’ , which would continue to influence illustrated Ovids until the second part of the sixteenth century. The model conceived for the illustration of the Ovidian content entailed the designing of a whole set of full scenes, predominantly narrative, which covered a significant number of the stories of each book of Metamorphoses, seeking to display a balance between text and image. The choice of the stories to be represented aimed to establish a first definite corpus which could eventually grow with the addition of new scenes. Nevertheless, this definite corpus of mythological figured motives imitated and reworked, both in the Italian and Lyonnais printing tradition during the sixteenth century, as we will see, does not correspond exactly to the set of illustrations of the 1497 Venetian edition.
A significant shift: the 1505 Parma edition and the corpus of illustrations for Metamorphoses in the sixteenth century:
“In 1501, Lucantonio Giunta, the editor of the 1497 volume, promoted a reprint of Bonsignori’s Italian translation with the same set of woodcuts, slightly modified due to the moral issues which had affected the first issue of the illustrations. This 1501 edition, virtually identical to the 1497 original, constitutes the starting point of the wandering of the series of 53 illustrations of Ovidian episodes, which were created for the vernacular version and seemed to fit this particular text.
“However, in 1505, a beautiful Latin edition of the Metamorphoses with the commentary of Raphael Regius came out in Parma in the house of Francesco Mazzali. The book is fully illustrated with 59 woodcuts, 52 of which seem to correspond to the blocks of the Venetian edition of 1497 or, even more, to the modified blocks of 1501. The seven remaining images are completely new, but are similar in their figurative layout and style to the Venetian originals. They were almost certainly by the same artist, on the basis of the monograms that appear on some of the woodcuts in both editions.
“Six new stories are illustrated in the Parma edition: the mission of Cadmus in search of his sister Europa and the founding of Boeotia (Figure 3), which are narrated in the first verses of Book III (vv. 1-137); the story of Narcissus, narrated in Book III (vv. 339-510); the episode of the Minyas’ daughters, who refused to attend the mysteries of Ba hus at Thebes, told in the opening lines of Book IV (vv. 1-54); the irruption of Phineus at the wedding of Perseus and Andromeda (Figure 4), told in the opening lines of Book V (vv. 1-235); the Pallas and Arachne story, told in the first verses of Book VI (vv. 1-145). As well as the story of Phrixus and Helle (Figure 5), which, although it does not appear in Ovid’s poem, is included in Bonsignori’s Italian rendering, as the first story of Book VII, explains the origin of the Golden Fleece and contextualizes the entire story of Jason and Medea in Colchis and its disastrous consequences. The seventh divergence in the Parma edition from the Venetian model is the insertion of a different woodcut for the first illustration of Book I, the Creation of the world, which features a new version of the scene with the figure of a God creator of animals and nature.”(Fátima Díez-Platas, “Et per omnia saecula imagine vivam:the completion of a figurative corpus for Ovid’s Metamorphoses in fifteenth and sixteenth century book illustrations” in The Afterlife of Ovid, P. Mack and J. North, editors (2015), pp. 115-136)
This cycle of woodcuts influenced many Italian Renaissance artists including Giovanni Bellini, perhaps providing inspiration for such works as The Feast of the Gods (National Gallery of Art, Washington). The 1505 Parma printing may have been the edition used by Michelangelo Anselmi, a painter who spent most of his career in Parma, who clearly used the woodcuts to derive his composition for Apollo and Marsyas (also in the National Gallery of Art, Washington).
"These illustrations for Ovid are among the best examples of the 'classic' style influenced by Andrea Mantegna, as discussed by Hind. He considers the possibility that the 'i.a.' is a signature of the block cutter Jacob of Strassburg, known to have been working at Venice about 1500 ... Hind concludes that 'if any of the Venetian illustrations are Benedetto Montagna's design, nothing is more likely to be his than the Ovid.' Subsequent editions of Ovid were heavily dependent on these blocks" (Mortimer).
"As in the Venetian woodcut of the time, the illustrator concentrates on the essential lines; he avoids any cross-hatching. The white background is prevalent, the human figures distinct, unnecessary details and ornaments are neglected." (translated from Henkel, Illustrierte Ausgaben von Ovid's Metamorphosen, in Vorträge of the Bibliothek Warburg, 1926-27, p.65ff).
Adams 0-471; Essling I, 226; Mortimer Italian 333; Sander II, 5315