PORTA, Giambattista della.

De Refractione Optices Parte. Libri novem. 1 De refractione, & eius accidentibus. 2 De pilae crystallinae refractione. 3 De oculorum partium anatome… 4 De visione. 5 De visionis accidentibus. 6 Cur binis oculis rem unam cernamus. 7 De his, quae intra oculum fiunt… 8 De specillis. 9 De coloribus ex refractione…

Neapoli [Naples]: Apud Jo. Jacobum Carlinum, & Antonium Pacem, 1593

4to, 6 leaves, 230 pages, 1 leaf (imprimatur). Including the inserted dedication leaf and its conjugate blank. Woodcut device on title, woodcut headpieces and initials, diagrams in the text. Some foxing, and paper of some gatherings browned, several small holes in blank areas of title, small hole in 10 leaves with loss of a few letters in 3 leaves. Eighteenth century vellum-backed boards, spine lettered in manuscript. Two early signatures on title deleted; signature of R.S. Creed, 1955, on front endpaper.

FIRST EDITION. “Porta’s contribution to the theory and practice of Renaissance optics is found in book XVII of the Magiae of 1589…[expanded into] the De refractione of 1593. He did not invent the camera obscura, but he is the first to report adding a concave lens to the aperture. He also juxtaposed concave and convex lenses and reports various experiments with them… His comparison of the lens in the camera obscura to the pupil in the human eye did provide an easily understandable demonstration that the source of visual images lay outside the eye as well as outside the darkened room. He thus ended on a popular level an age-old controversy. Porta’s work lies conceptually and chronologically between Risner’s Opticae Thesaurus of 1572 and Kepler’s Ad Vitellionem paralipomena of 1604” (DSB). Parkinson, Breakthroughs, 1593. DiLaura, Bibliotheca Opticoria, 45. Osler 3720, noting that Haeser calls Porta the founder of modern optics. Not in the Becker catalogue, which has the Magiae naturalis. Albert, Norton & Hurtes 1831: “…one of the principle founders of modern optics.” The leaf of dedication to Octavio Pisani, “Adolescenti erudito”, inserted between the title and A2, is not found in all copies.


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