Gli ornamenti delle donne, by MARINELLI, Giovanni, physician, active 16th…

MARINELLI, Giovanni, physician, active 16th century.

Gli ornamenti delle donne, scritti per M. Giovanni Marinello et diuisi in Quattro libri, con due Tauole, vna de'Capitoli, e l'altra d'alcune cose particolari. Opere utike, & necessaria ad ogni gentile persona. Con privilegio. Venice, Giovanni Valgrisio, 1574.

Second Edition 8vo (142 x 90 mm), ff. [viii], 376, [70], woodcut printer’s device on title-page, floriated woodcut initials throughout, typographical ornaments to sections, paper lightly browned throughout, title-page dust-stained and spotted, dampstaining on the first few leaves of the text proper, lacking the final blank, in eighteenth century half calf over speckled boards, spine with raised bands ruled in gilt with central sunburst, red morocco label lettered in gilt, head and foot of spine chipped, front joint weak with section of calf missing at the foot, corners bumped, lacking the front free endpaper, with the later art deco bookplate of Gino Sabattini, early ownership inscription (’Ex Libris An Bra’?) in the blank sections across the printer’s device on the title-page, three lines of bibliographical notes on the rear pastedown, all edges red.

An important Renaissance treatise on cosmetics, hygiene and feminine beauty, first published in 1562. Written by the celebrated physician and natural philosopher Giovanni Marinelli, whose daughter, Lucrezia Marinella, wrote the radical La Nobilita et l’eccellenza delle donne, codifetti et mancamenti de gli uomini, (’The Nobility and Excellence of Women and the Defects and Vices of Men’, not exactly pulling her punches), published in 1600. Himself an advocate of women’s education, Marinello’s work, which is dedicated to all ‘chaste and young women’, is remarkable for its celebration of female beauty and for encouraging women directly - the choice of publishing in the vernacular was no accident - to take an active part in their own health and beauty.
Marinelli includes remedies for a number of physical ailments and advice for good personal hygiene and tips on dieting both for losing and gaining weight. A large part of the work is devoted to beauty, with recipes for perfumes, advice on body symmetry, treatments for the eyes, lips and neck, with recipes for preparing bath salts and lotions. An astonishing 26 recipes for hair dye is testament to the popularity among Italian women of the time for dying their hair blond.
‘[Marinelli’s] views on women were bold; indeed, they were feminist... As Letizia Panizza has pointed out, this handbook of advice of women’s health and beauty presents a striking departure from the contemporary tendency to stigmatize women’s concern with their physical appearance as vanity. Making an explicit point of his feminism, however, Marinelli also prefaced his text with a brief defence of women, which rehearsed the prominent features of the ‘querelle des femmes’ and underscored his status as a humanist contributing to this pervasive literary debate’ (Ross, Sarah, The Birth of Feminism, 2009, p. 198).

Gay III, 598; Adams M590; Kelso, R., Doctrine for the lady of the Renaissance, no. 547; Erdmann, Axel, My Gracious Silence, no. 15 (note).

Keywords: Continental Books
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