Piranesi, Giovanni Battista (1720-1778).
Prima Parte di Architetture e Prospettive inventate ed incise da Giambatista Piranesi architetto veneziano, tra gli Arcadi Solcindio Tiseio. [Rome, late 1760s-early 1770s]. (bound with:) Idem. Antichità Romane de’ tempi della Repubblica, e de’ primi Imperatori, disegnate, ed incise da Giambattista Piranesi architetto veneziano: e dallo stesso dedicate all’Ill.mo e Rev.mo Sig. Monsig. Giovanni Bottari Cappellano segreto di N.S. Benedetto XIV. Uno de custodi della Biblioteca Vaticana, e canonico di S. Maria in Trastevere. Parte prima. Roma, si vende dall’Auttore dirimpetto l’Accademia di Franzia, [1748, but late 1760s-early 1770s].
Two works in one volume, folio (330x465 mm). I. Seventeen etched plates. Watermarks: Robison 39 (late 1760s-early 1770s). II. Thirty etched plates (two titles, dedication to Giovanni Gaetano Bottari dated 20 July 1748, two plates of inscriptions and index, and twenty-five views). Watermarks: Robison nos. 17 and 36 (late 1760s-early 1770s). This copy also includes nine etchings taken from other Piranesi works: four from the 1753 edition of the Trofei and ten etchings, printed on five leaves, from a 1760s edition of the Opere varie. Eighteenth-century half-calf. Spine with gilt title and volume numbering on double morocco lettering-pieces. Binding worn and rubbed, corners and extremities of the spine damaged. A very good, wide-margined copy. Book block partly detached from the binding.
I. Second edition, fifth issue of Piranesi's first work: a record of the young engraver's first encounter with the antiquities of Rome and of his difficulty in giving visual form to its immense grandeur. The series presented here, according to Robison, represents the second of six editions and it is in the fifth of eight issues.
“Piranesi's first published work. As such, it is a remarkable production. Granted that some of its thirteen plates are little more than pleasant exercises in a set tradition, others are strikingly inventive, extraordinarily successful in their complex compositions, and remarkably sophisticated in their harmonious technique. Clearly, Piranesi learned and developed further, but the level of the first publication at age twenty-three shows he already had the talent of a genius” (Robinson, p. 12).
The first edition of the Prima Parte was printed in 1743 and comprised thirteen plates and a letter-press dedication. Piranesi did not publish a second part, but in the following years he etched other plates similar to the original thirteen and revised the entire work. Between 1743 and 1749 six different issues of the first edition appeared on the market. During the 1750s and 1760s Piranesi made a few changes to the plates and, by 1761, when he finally moved to a large house in Strada San Felice, from which he published and sold his prints for the rest of his life, the second edition of the Prima Parte was ready. He then continued to work on the series until his death in 1778, producing eight issues of this second edition. All subsequent editions of the work are posthumous.
As often happens with copies of the second edition, in the present volume the seventeen plates of the series are followed by other prints taken from different series: four are taken from the Trofei of 1753 (Facciata d'un Gocciolatojo in piano; Parte di una cornice di marmo; Capitello di marmo, il quale co' l'altro; Capitello di marmo nel Palazzo Mattei), and ten from the Opere varie (after 1761): Appartenenze d'antiche terme; Veduta d'uno de' circhi antichi (reduced version of the large frontispiece to vol. III of the Antichità Romane); Ponte trionfale (reduced version of the large frontispiece to vol. I of the Antichità Romane); Braccio di città pensile (reduced version of the large frontispiece to vol. IV of the Antichità Romane); Idea delle antiche vie Appia e Ardeatina (reduced version of the large frontispiece to vol. II of the Antichità Romane); Ingresso d'un antico ginnasio; Scuola antica architettata alla Egiziana e Greca; Portici tirati d'intorno ad un foro; Rovine d'antichità Egiziana e Greca (upright), and Idea d'un atrio reale (upright).
II. First edition, a later issue probably printed in the late 1760s and early 1770s, of the complete series, in first state, of this precocious manifesto of Piranesi's historical study of the antiquities of Rome. “From the purely artistic side there is scarcely anything more attractive in Piranesi's work than this early series” (Hind). The series is divided into two parts, each opening with its own title-page: the first shows Roman antiquities in Rome; the second Roman antiquities outside Rome. The series was reprinted around 1765, with the addition of two plates, under the title Alcune vedute di archi trionfali et altri monumenti.
H. Foucillon, Giovanni Battista Piranesi, eds. M. Calvesi and A. Monferini, Bologna 1967, pp. 287-290; A. M. Hind, Giovanni Battista Piranesi: A Critical Study, London 1978, pp. 75-76, 78-83; A. Robison, Early Architectural Fantasies: A Catalogue raisonné of the Etchings, Chicago 1986, pp. 65-112; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 239.