Norimbergæ, Apud Io. Petreium, 1535. Folio. [iv], 297 leaves. FIRST EDITION. Title in red and black with large woodcut, full-page woodcut arms on recto of second leaf, numerous woodcut illustrations throughout text. First 4 numbered leaves (following preliminaries) are in facsimile on old paper. Full blindstamped calf in an antique style. Overall a fine copy. Item #14485
First edition of the earliest treatise on optics written by a European. An extremely rare work, the text of which is derived from the optics of Abu al-Hasan (Alhazen). It contains not only a summary of all that was known on optics to the ancients and to Alhazen, but also some original investigations. Divided into nine books, Witelo first sets forth a number of geometrical theorems providing the mathematical principles required for the optical demonstrations of the remaining books. He details the essential features of optical systems, including the theory of theory of the nature of light and the propagation of light or visible forms. In addition to the nature of radiation, light and color in straight or refracted lines, and the treatment of images in various mirrors, a portion of the book deals with the physiology of vision.
Very little is known of Witelo (ca. 1230-ca. 1275) other than he was born in Poland. This book, important as a source of Greco-Arabian theories on optics, had a great deal of influence on future investigators throughout all ages, including Regiomontanus and Da Vinci, Maurolico, Tycho Brahe, Galileo and Descartes. Indeed, Kepler based his entire study of optics upon it.