"THE FINEST EDITION OF DON QUIXOTE THAT HAS EVER BEEN PRINTED": IBARRA’S SUPERB 1780 ILLUSTRATED EDITION, HANDSOMELY BOUND
CERVANTES. El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha. Madrid: Joaquin Ibarra, 1780. Four volumes. Quarto, late 19th-century full red morocco, elaborately gilt-decorated spines, raised bands, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. $26,000.
The magnificent Ibarra Quixote, with engraved portrait of Cervantes, engraved frontispiece in each volume, 31 full-page engraved plates, numerous headpieces, tailpieces and historiated initials, and a double-page map showing Don Quixote’s route through Spain and the sites of his adventures. A handsome set in full morocco-gilt.
Don Quixote won instant fame for its "variety, liveliness, and gibes at the famous" (PMM). It was translated into several European languages in the first century of its appearance, however it was this edition, carefully prepared by Spain's master printer Joaquin de Ibarra, illustrated by artists from the Academia de San Fernando and overseen by Cervantes scholar Vincente de los Ríos, that solidified the novel as part of the literary canon. "Joaquin Ibarra… produced works of conspicuous grandeur and had the distinction of being [one of] the last entrepreneurs of sumptuous bookmaking before the advent of the machine… His chief fame rests on the Sallust of 1772 and the Don Quixote of 1780 in four volumes, the latter commissioned and supervised by the Spanish Royal Academy. Both are elegant editions, with numerous engraved illustrations, type, paper, and all details Spanish, deliberately made to be national treasures, which, indubitably, they are" (Pierpont Morgan Library, Art of the Printed Book, 28).
Ibarra commissioned new types and heavy wove paper from Catalunya specifically for this work. The plates are after Carnicero, Barranco, Brunette, Ferro and Gil, and engraved by Ballester, Barcelon, Fabregat, Gil, Mol, Muntaner, Salvador y Carmona and Selam. The project was conceived sparing no expense, the paper came from the Guarro mill in Cataluna, and a specially designed type was made from matrices by Jeronimo Gil. "The Life of Cervantes" and "Analysis of Don Quixote" by Vicente de los Rios far surpassed all similar biographical sketches and studies of the novel that had been previously published. "The finest edition of Don Quixote that has ever been printed" (Updike II: 73-75). "Magnífica edición y superior en belleza artística a todas las que hasta entonces se habían hecho en España y en el extranjero [Magnificent edition and superior in artistic beauty to all that had been produced to that point either in Spain or abroad]" (Palau). This copy with the frontispiece for Volumes I and II repeated and bound in as the frontispiece for both Volumes I and II, and with frontispiece for Volumes III and IV repeated and bound in as frontispiece for those volumes, as issued. Part I first published in 1605; Part II first published in 1615. Text in Spanish. Cohen de Ricci 218-219. Palau 52024. Updike II, 73-75. See PMM 111 (first edition).
Text and plates generally quite clean and fine. Expert repairs to most joints. A beautiful copy of this most desirable edition of a landmark of world literature.