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Richly illustrated manuscript teaching religion to deaf-mutes

[ASSAROTTI, Ottavio Giovanno Battista].
Dottrina Christiana. [Manuscript in Italian].
[Genoa, ca. 1815/20]. 8vo. With 117 (of 118) full-page hand-coloured drawings, each in a frame of double rules (20.5 x 14 cm), with lively illustrations of the Christian doctrine, and text in Italian. Contemporary half calf, gold-tooled spine. 117 (of 118), [3 blank] ll., including the last 3 blanks.
€ 18,500
Important manuscript containing a method of teaching "Dottrina Christiana" (Christian doctrine) to Italian deaf-mutes, devised in Genoa by Padre Ottavio Giovanni Battista Assarotti (Genoa 1753-1829). Assarotti was an Italian philanthropist and founder of the first school for deaf-mute people in Italy. It is not certain that Assarotti himself wrote the present manuscript, which may be the work of one of his collaborators, based on the method Assarotti invented and developed and using the illustrations he designed. The introduction discusses the difficulty of teaching abstract concepts, such as religion, to deaf-mute pupils, necessitating the use of illustrations as designed by Assarotti. Assarotti "never wrote down his educational philosophy and methods, and so fell into obscurity after his death" (Deaf history unveiled). As far as we know this manuscript is the only surviving witness of Assarotti's theories.
The style of the watercolours is somewhat primitive and popular, but very rich in detail. They illustrate faith in general ("fede"; nos. 1-42); the commandments ("legge"; nos. 43-51); prayers ("preghiera" 1-10; nos. 52-61); the sacraments ("sacramenti"; nos. 62-95, 97-104); virtues ("virtu" 1-14; nos. 105-118), and include views of heaven and hell, creation, a city, priestly activities, and all kinds of Catholic symbols, etc.
In very good condition. Deaf history unveiled (1993), pp. 244-245; Dizionario biogr. degli Italiani 4, pp. 433-434; Donaver, "Il padre Assarotti", in: La rass. naz. 23 (1901), pp. 79-87; Monaci, Storia del R. Istituto nazionale dei sordomuti in Geneva (1901), pp. 17-88 and passim.
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Art, architecture & photography  >  Drawings, Prints & Watercolours
Autographs, documents & manuscripts  >  Manuscripts & Documents
Book history, education, learning & printing  >  Education & Pedagogy
Religion & devotion  >  Bibles, Liturgy & Devotional Works