Italian Renaissance Authors
Melville acquired engraved portraits of three Italian Renaissance authors who built upon the literary tradition of Dante and ancient Italian authors. Machiavelli completed The Prince in 1513. Ariosto completed his first version of Orlando Furioso in 1516, the final version in 1532. Tasso began publishing Jerusalem Delivered in 1575-76, completing the epic poem in 1581.
The portraits Melville acquired of each author originated in 1807, the year in which George Cooke's engraving of Machiavelli appeared in the Historical Gallery of Portraits and Paintings in London. During the same year in Florence, Raphael Morghen engraved portraits of Ariosto and Tasso for forthcoming editions of Orlando Furioso and Jerusalem Delivered in the “Fathers of Italian Language and Poetry” series. In 1863 the copies of the Ariosto and Tasso portraits that Melville acquired, in Robert Hart’s engravings after those by Morghen, were published in The Imperial Dictionary of Universal Biography.
One of the books Melville acquired during the last decade of his life, Lucy Baxter’s The Renaissance of Art in Italy, published under the pseudonym Leader Scott in 1883 (fig. 1), provided a unique link between the books he collected, the prints he collected, and his own travels through Italy in 1857. It also provided some new connections between the portraits of Italian Renaissance authors in his print collection and engraved artworks he collected by Italian Renaissance artists who had been inspired by those authors.