The book is a collection of biographical portraits of 16th century artists deemed to be – as the title of the book suggets – “excellent”, an overview of their most important works and where these works are to be found. It includes the biographies and works of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael, as well as Bramante and many other influential Renaissance painters, sculptors and architects.
The Giunti edition is comprised of 2 volumes: Book 2 holds parts 1&2 as well as the beginning of part 3; book 2 holds the rest of part 3.
The books I found in the Werner Oechslin library begin with a title page and are missing a dedication. Following the title page is a short preface followed by first a “proto-index” of the artists’ most notable works, then similarly the artists’ names and then the places where their works are situated. After this there is another preamble followed by the first biography. The book ends with the last biography and is followed only by a short list of errors and the printers’ stamp.
The numbering of the pages is continuous through parts 1 and 2 and is “reset” for the beginning of part 3 which spans 1016 pages in total (the page counting is continuously carried over into the next book). For each artist featured there is a title page with an illustrated picture of the man himself which brings the total number of illustrations to 148 with frontispiece and back piece in each book.
Both volumes are in the standard book size category Imperial Octavo (8 vo.) – height: 245 mm, breadth: 175 mm, width: 90 mm (book 1), 55 mm (book 2).