DOMINIS, Marko Antonije.

De Radiis Visus et Lucis in vitris perspectivis et iride tractatus… Per Joannem Bartolum in lucem editus. In quo inter alia ostenditur ratio instrumenti cuiusdam ad clarè videndum, quae sunt valde remota excogitati.

Venetiis [Venice]: Apud Thomam Baglionum. 1611

4to, 4 leaves, 78 pages, 1 leaf (errata). Woodcut device on title, woodcut figures in the text. Upper margin of title and A4 browned and with a small hole in A4 repaired, some light browning and spotting throughout (mainly in the margins), a few small holes in blank area of final leaf (some repaired). Old Continental boards patterned in gilt, neatly rebacked with paper. Bookplate of David L. DiLaura.

FIRST EDITION of a very rare and important book in the early history of optics, which deals with lenses, the telescope, and the rainbow. The first part of the book presents the basic propositions of optics and basic aspects of reflection and refraction. This lays the foundation for the first of the two principal topics of the book, the operation of lenses, which is important for giving one of the earliest accounts, probably the first, of the newly invented telescope. This instrument is also described in the preface by Giovanni Bartoli, who was the Tuscan ambassador at Venice. He was an early advocate of Galileo’s discoveries and his preface is the origin of the incorrect notion that it was Galileo who invented the telescope. De Dominis, whose book was printed the year after Galileo’s Siderius Nuncius and by the same printer, and with which it is sometimes bound, even suggests incorporating draw-tubes into the telescope, which came into use much later. “With the same thoroughness he examined lens combinations, in particular the combination of a convex object glass and a concave eyepiece. This work led to his discovery of the conditions under which the magnification of an image is possible” (DSB). The second principal topic is the rainbow, in which De Dominis propounds his famous theory which greatly influenced Newton, who acknowledges De Dominis and this book in the Opticks. He held that a rainbow is caused by refraction and reflection in raindrops. De Dominis was a Dalmation Jesuit who rose to become archbishop of Split. In 1616 he fled to England and joined the Anglican church. Later he returned to Rome where he died in a dungeon. His body, together with his writings, was burned by the Inquisition. Cinti 33. Riccardi I, 417–418: “importantissimo libro”. DiLaura, Bibliotheca Opticoria, 55, for a full analysis. This is a rare book, with several writers alluding to its rarity over the centuries. It was placed on the Index of prohibited books and may have been suppressed or burned with its author.


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