Paolo Manuzio

Paulo Manuzio

Grattius 1534 title-page.

Grattius 1534 title-page.

The death of Andrea Torrisani in 1528 upset the delicate balance of power at the Aldine press. Undoubtedly the reason for this had been sown many years previously in the complex business arrangement between Aldus and his father-in-law Andrea in 1506. At that time Aldus and Andrea had pooled their resources: they agreed that one fifth of the whole of Andrea’s and Aldus’ combined wealth would go to Aldus while the other four fifths would be Andrea’s. In his will of 16 January 1515, Aldus divided his one fifth between his three sons, Manutius (1506-1568), Antonius (1511-1559) and Paulo (1512-1574), in equal shares. Being grandsons of Andrea Torrisani through their mother Maria they had legitimate hopes of gaining yet more control of the business on their grandfather’s death but it was clear that Andrea’s sons, particular Gian Francesco and Federico, would be the main beneficiaries and would therefore continue to have a major say in the business.

Viaggi contents list.

Viaggi contents list.

When their father died in 1515 Aldus’ sons were children and it made sense for their grandfather Andrea Torrisani and their uncle Gian Francesco (and to a lesser extent Federico), to run the press. However, on Andrea’s death the sons of Aldus began to assert themselves, leading to a rift with their uncles and a hiatus in the output of the press. Between 1529 and 1533 no titles were issued but 1533 witnessed the beginning of an uneasy compromise between the Torrisani uncles and their nephews. Between 1533 and 1536 titles were issued under the imprint ‘Venetiis in aedibus haeredum Aldi Manutii romani, et Andreae Asulani soceri’ but between 1536 and 1540, when the final break came, output was sluggish. By 1540 Gian Francesco and Federico Torrisani were working with other printers and Aldus’ sons were using the imprint ‘apud Aldi filios’.

Archimedes 1558 Aldine device

Archimedes 1558 device.

Cataldi Palau points out that the prefatory letters included in works published by the Aldine press from 1533 onwards were invariably written by the youngest of Aldus’s three sons, Paulo. It was Paulo who took over the running of the press at this time. As the images on this page demonstrate, Paolo began to develop the range of the press, including more works in the vernacular as well as illustrated editions of mathematical texts. Above all, he concentrated on Latin classics, especially editions of Cicero (which Worth did not collect). Paolo also looked beyond Venice, setting up a short-lived press in Bologna under the control of his brother Antonio, but this came to an end in 1559 on Antonio’s death. The invitation of Pope Pius IV in 1561 to come to Rome and set up a press there proved too good an offer to refuse and Paolo spent much of the remainder of his life there, producing theological works in support of the Counter-reformation. His son Aldus the Younger (1547-1597) took over the control of the Venetian press on Paolo’s departure for Rome. The works printed by Paolo at Rome, concentrating as they did on biblical commentaries and Tridentine theology, held little interest for Worth whose last Aldine was a medical work by Girolamo Gabuccini dated 1561.

Archimedes 1558 dedication to Farnese

Archimedes 1558 dedication to Farnese.

Like his father and uncle, Paolo had been assiduously building up links with the papal curia even before Pius IV’s invitation. He was lucky in some of his contacts: as Fletcher points out, Alberto Pio’s nephew, Rodolfo Pio de Savoia (1500-1564), had been made a cardinal in 1536 and proved a useful connection. He wasn’t the only cardinal with whom Paolo developed links. As this image shows, he dedicated the 1558 edition of Archimedes to Cardinal Ranuccio Farnese (1530-1565), a grandson of Pope Paul III. A Prior of the Knights of Malta, Farnese had been created a cardinal at the young age of 15. Twice titular Latin Patriarch of Constantinople, he was a force to be reckoned with, but the dedication here relates principally to the fact that Farnese was a patron of the editor of the Archimedes, Federico Commandino (1509-1575). As Neville (1986) states, what made the Archimedes such a seminal edition was its strict adherence to the original texts.

Archimedes 1558 diagram

Archimedes 1558 diagram.


The Aldine Pres. Catalogue of the Ahmanson-Murphy Collection of Books by or relating to the press in the Library of the University of California, Los Angeles incorporating works recorded elsewhere (University of California Press, 2001).

Cataldi Palau, Annaclara (2012), ‘Gian Francesco Torresani of Asola and the Aldine printing press: A new chapter in intellectual and printing history’, Intellectual News, 10: 1, pp. 28-44.

Fletcher, H. G. (1994), ‘Paulus Manutius In Aedibus Populi Romani. The Campaign for Rome’ in Zeidberg, D. S. (ed.) Aldus Manutius and Renaissance Culture. Essays in Memory of Franklin D. Murphy. (Florence: Olschki), pp. 287-322.

Lowry, Martin (1979) The World of Aldus Manutius. Business and Scholarship in Renaissance Venice (Oxford: Blackwell).

Neville, Pamela (1986), ‘The Printer’s Copy of COmmandino’s translation of Archimedes, 1558’, Nuncius 1, no. 1, pp. 7-12.