Hypnerotomachia Poliphili.



Colonna, Francesco.


Hypnerotomachia Poliphili.


Venice: Aldus Manutius [for Leonardus Crassus],


December 1499.


The most celebrated illustrated book of the Italian Renaissance, the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (“The Strife of Love in a Dream by Polia’s Lover”) is also the most enigmatic. Scholars have debated the identity of the author and artist for centuries, with opinions now settled on the authorship of the Dominican Friar Francesco Colonna and the woodcuts of the Paduan miniaturist Benedetto Bordone. The text is written in a curious hybrid of Latin and Italian, and tells the story of Polifilo’s search for his long-lost love, Polia. His dreamlike wanderings through elaborate woodcut architectural and pastoral scenes have as many interpretations as there are interpreters. The book is a masterpiece of integrated text and design, and influences designers to this day.

Bound for Jean Grolier (1489/90–1565) by Gommar Estienne, probably around 1552–1555, and previously owned by George John, Lord Spencer (1758–1834).


From the collection of T. Kimball Brooker.


Colonna, Francesco. , “Hypnerotomachia Poliphili.,” Grolier Club Exhibitions, accessed September 24, 2018, https://grolierclub.omeka.net/items/show/189.