The 500th Anniversary
The Hypnerotomachia Poliphilo
of Francesco COLONNA -
1499 - 1999.
(Material compiled by Samten de Wet
click here for more information.)
BIBLIOGRAPHY OF COLONNA
AND EDITIONS OF THE HYNEROTOMACHIA POLIPHILO OF
BIBLIOGRAPHY posted on the ALCIATO site by William Barker
A DESCRIPTIVE LIST OF THE WOODCUTS
DREAM OF POLIPHILUS
("Poliphili Hypnerotomachia," Venice, 1499.)
Electronic HYPNEROTOMACHIA POLIPHILI
In 1999 - it will be 500 years since the publication of the Hypnerotomachia
Poliphilo of Francesco Colonna. I thought it would be a good seed idea to
circulate amongst members of The Alchemy Web Page, and other interested
parties - and related WebSites - that we work towards a celebration of this
remarkable work - at a Conference in Venice, Italy in 1999.
The Project could not succeed without the assistance of all interested
parties, across the academic divide. That is to say, the interrelated areas
where interest in the Hypnerotomachia has been shown, such as History of Art
and Architecture, Depth Psychology, Imaginal and Archetypal Studies, History
of Western Esotericism, History of Literature, Renaissance Studies, Emblem
Studies, Alchemy, Paganism in the Renaissance and so forth. I have located
most sites which mention Francesco Colonna on the Web - and have edited this
material from search engines - let me know if you want a copy.The
Hypnerotomachia Poliphilo text is actually under construction at Rutgers
University. Email: email@example.com but the site was shuttered last
time I visited it.
There has also been a recent Conference at The University of Rome, partly
organised by Maurizio Calvesi and Stefano Colonna. Maurizio Nicosia,
lecturer at the University of Urbino and Webmaster of the ZENIT Site in
Italy, is also very keen on the Project. Dr Jocelyn Godwin of Golgate
University, and Adam McLean of the Alchemy Website have also exzpressed
The question is: are any other interested parties preparing for a
celebration of the publication of the Hypnerotomachia? Secondly, and in
particular - are any plans in motion from Venice itself? For example, the
Department of Culture of the Commune di Venezia?
The setting would be Venice.
The time - 1999. For maximum organisational preparation time - September -
October 1999 is suggested. Venice may be rather cold at this time - so a
more suitable date can be arranged.
Thirdly, an ongoing email and WWWeb Conference on the Hypnerotomachia could
start as from now, and lay the foundations. Adam McLean and others may
kindly open a Web site specifically for this project.
Here are a few quotations to give a perspective to the work:
"The Hypnerotomachia, the first edition of which comprises four hundred and
fifty folio pages of letterpress and illustrations..." "...was first
published anonymously at Venice by Manutius, the most famous of Italian
Renaissance publishers. Between 1499 and 1833 it was reprinted in all ten
Mario Praz wrote:
"The most extraordinary book of the Italian Renaissance is doubtless the
Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, which appeared anonymously in Venice in 1499.
This work, ascribed to a friar, Francesco Colonna, is famous for its
beautiful woodcuts, and is certainly the most desirable among the Aldine
"Aldus did not normally illustrate his books, but in 1499 he produced a
work that may well claim to be among the most beautiful printed books of all
time, a black tulip in the midst of his classical texts: the Hypnerotomachia
Poliphili by Francesco Colonna. In post-Renaissance times the text of this
extraordinary book has generally been regarded as a jumble of mystical
nonsense that owed its reputation solely to the woodcut illustrations..." 3
Fortunately, the "jumble of mystical nonsense" attracted the attention of
C.G. Jung and the Hypnerotomachia often appears in his Collected Works. His
friend and close collaborator, Linda Fierz-David, interpreted the
Hypnerotomachia according to Jungian depth psychology.
"Like every real dream, the Hypnerotomachia is Janus-headed; it is a
picture of the Middle Ages just beginning to turn into modern times by way
of the Renaissance - a transition between two eras, and therefore deeply
interesting to the world of today, which is still more transitional in
C.G. Jung, in Fierz-David, Linda, The Dream of Polophilo - The Soul in
Love, Spring Publications, Inc. Dallas, 1987, pp. XIII-XIV.
I have been preparing a Hypnerotomachia Bibliography and would appreciate
any further additions. This Bibliography is based on: Casella, Maria Teresa
e Pozzi, Giovanni, Francesco Colonna Biografia e Opere, in 2 Volumes.
Medioevo e Umanesimo, 1 & 2, Editrice Antenore, Padova, 1959. Vol. I is:
Casella, Maria Teresa, Biografia. Vol. II. Giovanni Pozzi, Opere.
Though slightly incomplete - the bibliographic material gathered to date of
about 200 items is available on request. Let me know email:
firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send it to you.
Heckscher, William S. in: Bernini's Elephant and Obelisk, The Art Bulletin,
Vol. 29, 1947, pp. 155 ff. explores the influence of the Hypnerotomachia on
Bernini's elephant on the Piazza della Minerva.
Blunt, A., The Hypnerotomachia Polyphli in 17th Century France, Journal of
the Warburg Institute, I (I937-38), p. 117 - 37 is a excellent overview of
the French influences, especially literary and in French Art.
Gombrich, E.H. Hypnerotomaciana, JWCI, Vol. XIX, (14), 1951, pp. 119 122.
looks at paintings by the Caracci Family, which used the Hypnerotomachia as
source material while: Liebmann, Michael, On the Iconography of The Nymph of
the Fountain..JWCI, Vol. 31, 1968.pp. 434 -437. shows an influence of the
Hypnerotomachia on Cranach, and Christiansen, Keith, Lorenzi Lotto and the
Tradition of Epithalamic Paintings, APOLLO Magazine, London, Sept.1986,
Please let me know what you think about this Project and let us pool our
Samten de Wet
1. Fierz-David, Linda, The Dream of Polophilo - The Soul in Love, Spring
Publications, Inc. Dallas, 1987, p. 8.
2. Mario Praz, Some Foreign Imitators of the HYPNEROTOMACHIA POLIPHILI,
Italica, XXIV, March, No. 1, 1947, pp. 20 - 25
3. Thomas, Alan G. Great Books and Book Collectors, Chancellor Press,
A BRIEF NOTE ON SAMTEN DE WET. (top of document)
I published an Article in The Hermetic Journal in 1986 entitled 'The
Serpent Lineage' . I have been researching Hermetic and Alchemical material
for 30 years, the total bulk of my research is unpublished. I am keen to
start dialogue. I can also supply you with a more comprehensive C.V. and an
extensive overview of the fields in which I have been working. There are
about 15,000 pages on hard-drive, plus 6,000 slides, and a collection of
black and white Xeroxes taken from Libraries during my research - plus a
large collection of Xeroxes from rare archaeological journals etc. This
entire collection is secondary - as I have never worked with Manuscript
Collections. It is essentially a commentary, lensed through a Jungian and
sometimes Buddhist perspective. The purpose of this archive was to make
material available in South Africa which is totally unobtainable. Only a
small circle of subscribers and patrons help in maintaining this little
Project. I am also based in TURIN in Italy - every other year - where some
further work is in process.
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