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Girolamo Mercuriale.
Hieronymi Mercvrialis, De Arte Gymnastica, Libri Sex... Secunda editione aucti, et multi figuris ornati... Parisiis, Apud Icobum du Pays, via D. Ioannis Lateranensis, sub signo Samaritanae.


John and Mabel Ringling Museum of Art. Sarasota, Florida.

Construction began on the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in 1927. John Ringling, of circus fame, wished to build a museum to house his personal collection of Baroque art, including works by Rubens. The museum was built in the style of a Renaissance palace with twenty one galleries surrounding an outdoor garden court. It was situated on property next to Ringling's home, Ca' d'Zan, on the shore of Sarasota Bay. The building was completed in 1929 and opened in 1930. Unfortunately times had changed, and Ringling's wealth had been reduced by the Depression. The death of his wife, Mable, also affected him. By the mid 1930s Ringling was forced to sell off most of his assets. Rather than see his art collection broken up, he donated it and the museum to the state of Florida.

The library of the Ringling Museum of Art specializes in books, catalogs, and periodicals emphasizing the Baroque period of art history. Included in the library are emblem books and works on the theater and the circus. While many of the materials are current publications primarily for the use of the museum curators, there is an important nucleus of rare books published in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries.

Girolamo Mercuriale. Hieronymi Mercvrialis, De Arte Gymnastica, Libri Sex... Secunda editione aucti, et multi figuris ornati... Parisiis, Apud Icobum du Pays, via D. Ioannis Lateranensis, sub signo Samaritanę. 1577.

This book was first published in 1569 under the title Artis Gymnasticę. It is considered to be one of the earliest books on circuses. The work contains twenty-three woodcuts designed by Pirro Ligorio and cut by Cristoforo Coriolano which are close copies of the first fully illustrated Venice, 1573, edition. The illustrations show various gymnastic activities.

Jules César Boulenger. Ivl. Cęsaris Bvlengeri De circo Romano, lvdisqve circensibvs, ac Circi & Amphitheatri Venatione, liber. Cui accessit D. Ioan. Chrysostomi Constantinopolitani Archiepiscopi. Oratio de Circo, ex. vet Gręco manusc. excerpta, nusquam hactenus edita; cum eiusdem Bvlengeri interpretatione. Editio prima. Lvtetiae Parisiorvm, Apud Robertvm Nivelle, via Iacoboeā, ad insigne Columnarum 1598.

The introduction by St. John Chrysostom, Oratio de Circo, is in Latin and Greek, on facing pages, with the Greek title (transliterated): Eix to hippodromion logos. This is the second oldest known circus book. The first part contains a history and description of the Roman circus. The main event described is chariot races, but acrobats, clowns, brass bands, and processionals also formed part of the entertainment. The second part of the book describes the violent and brutal contests between gladiators and animals or other gladiators.

Onofrio Panvinio. Onvphrii Panvinii Veronensis, De Lvdis Circensibvs, libri II. De Trivmphis, Liber vnvs. Quibus vniuersa fer'e Romanorvm Vetervm sacra ritvsq. Declarantvr, ac Figuris Aeneis Illustrantur... Venetiis: apud Ioannem Baptistam Ciottum Senensem, 1600.

This account of circus games and triumphal processions, first published in 1596, is the third oldest known circus book. The work is based on a manuscript left by Panvinio at the time of his death in 1568. The engraved title page is set within an architectural frame with figures and scenes of Roman circuses. The coat of arms above the title is that of the dedicatee, Francesco Maria della Rovere, duke of Urbino. The figure of Aurora, below the title, is the device of the printer Giovanni Battista Ciotti.

Jean Gaspard Gevaerts. Pompa introitvs honori serenissimi principis Ferdinandi Avstriaci hispaniarvm infantis... a S.P.Q. Antverp. decreta et adornata... XV. kal. Maii, ann. M.DC.XXXV. Arcus, Pegmata, Inconesq[ue] ą Pet. Pavlo Rvbenio, Equite, inuentas & delineatas Inscriptionibus & Elogiis ornabat...; Iconum Tabulas ex archetiypis Rubenianis delineauit et scalpsit [sic] Theod. ą Tulden. Antverpiae: Apud Ioannem Mevrsivm, 1641.

This work depicts the ceremonial entry of the Archduke Ferdinand of Austria into Antwerp in 1635. It is the only book entirely illustrated by Peter Paul Rubens and is one of the most magnificently illustrated books of the seventeenth century.

Ferdinand, the new Regent, was sent to Flanders to represent King Philip the IV in the Spanish Netherlands. The city fathers of Antwerp asked Rubens to decorate the town for the Regent's grand entry. Rubens designed a fantasy world of triumphal arches, porticos, theaters and decorated chariots. Artists and craftsmen decorated and constructed the pieces which were located throughout the city. Jean Gaspard Gevaerts, the town clerk of Antwerp and a philologist and poet, wrote the text for the inscriptions. The city was decorated with garlands and flags, and a large fireworks display marked the end of the processional. Over 70,000 florins were spent to welcome the Regent.

The large engraved plates were copied after Rubens' designs, and this work was published after his death. The book was disbound by the Ringling Museum so that the plates could be individually displayed.