Art and Architecture Philobiblon

One Thousand Years of Bibliophily from the 11th to the 21st Century

The exquisite taste of an Italian collector. Natalizio Benedetti’s Tarot of Mantegna.

1. The so-called ‘Mantegna Tarocchi’

. Set of fifty engravings, by the Masters of the Tarocchi. Northern Italy (possibly Ferrara), before 1467.

Fifty plates (platemarks 178x101 mm, and similar; each leaf, with margins, measuring 199x127 mm). Forty-eight plates from the E-series (Hind 1a-18a, 20a-31a, 33a-50a; Bartsch 18A-35A, 37A-48A, 50A-67A); two from the S-series, Clio (pl. 19; Hind 19b; Bartsch 36) and Chronico or The Genius of Time (pl. 32; Hind 32b; Bartsch 49); one print, the Rhetorica (pl. 23; Hind 23a; Bartsch 40A), inserted recently from another E-series set.

This set is in its book form, in a single quire of twenty-five sheets, with forty-eight plates printed in twos, each pairing printed on a single sheet measuring 199x254 mm, in the original numbered sequence; the Rhetorica plate is trimmed within the platemark, and laid on a single leaf of antique paper which has been skilfully re-conjugated with pl. 28 (Philosofia, Hind 28a). Many sheets feature a watermark 'Flower in a Stem with two Leaves' similar to Briquet nos. 6647-6649, from Northern Italy, ca. 1465-1472. Impressions in greyish black with the fine shading of the figures just outlined, and very few details worn. Generally in very good condition, with margins of 10-15 mm on all four sides, some leaves with minor staining, light discolouration and a few areas of foxing, the last four pages with short worm-track. Traces of glue in several blank versos of the plates. Rebound in early boards, in a full calf slipcase.

Provenance: the volume of forty-nine plates was once owned by Natalizio Benedetti, priore novello and an antiquarian in the Umbrian city of Foligno (1559–1614; ownership inscription in brown ink on the blank recto of the first leaf, 'De Natalitis Benedetti. Suoi Amici e fr.elli. i.e., 'His friends and brothers'); the Benedetti family and its descendants (i.e., Bernardino Lattanzi); Sotheby's London, Catalogue of Important Old Master Engravings, Etchings, and Woodcuts, 26 April 1979, lot 117 (see below); Bernardino Lattanzi; by descent to Christie's London, Old Master Prints, 8 December 2009, lot 4.

For the Rhetorica plate (pl. 23): Henry Foster Sewall (1816-1896); acquired by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in November 1897; deaccessioned around 1917 (see stamp on verso 'Duplicate Sold by The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston'); Anderson Gallery (Catalogue of Engravings, Etchings, Woodcuts and Lithographs. Duplicates from the Collection of The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, New York, 19-20 February 1918, lot 2); Robin Halwas, London.

An extremely rare and important complete set – exceptionally presented in its wide-margined book form – of one of the few Renaissance works of art, not only in the field of engraving, to fully express the life, customs, and indeed entire cultural world of the courtly and learned class of fifteenth-century Italy.

Traditionally called Tarocchi or the Tarot Cards of Mantegna and generally dating to before 1467, these are the earliest engraved cards in Italy, and without a doubt the most fascinating and problematic of the surviving fifteenth-century prints. Although these engravings have been studied extensively and have long been regarded as highly significant examples of early Italian engraving, the cards have yet to disclose all their secrets. It must also be stated at the outset that their conventional title is doubly misleading, for they have only a slight discernible relationship to Mantegna – arguably one of the greatest artists of the fifteenth century – and the very assumption that they are playing cards at all has been called into question. They were most likely an educational game, as supported by the fact that in the very few copies that survive, the prints are presented or in book form or as single prints, but never mounted as playing-cards in a loose deck. Furthermore, there are only fifty cards in total, as opposed to the standard seventy-two typical of a fifteenth-century hand-painted deck of playing-cards, and, most interestingly, their organization and sequence is quite different.

The Tarocchi are known in two series, conventionally referred to as the 'E-series' and 'S-series', both comprising fifty plates divided into five groups. “No impressions are known showing differences of state, or later rework” (Hind I, p. 228). Each print bears a descriptive title, a letter identifying the group to which it belongs, and a number (in both Arabic and Roman numerals) indicating its position in the sequence.

In the E-series the groupings are as follows, according to a scheme in which the letters are in reverse order to the numbers: Ranks and Conditions of Men (letter E, cards 1-10); Apollo and the Muses (letter D, cards 11-20); Liberal Arts (letter C, cards 21-30); Cosmic Principles (Genii) and Virtues (letter B, cards 31-40); and Planets and Spheres of the Universe (letter A, cards 41-50). The first group of ten prints, marked with the letter 'E' in the E-series, is marked with the letter 'S' in the S-series, hence the adopted nomenclature.

The issue of the date and priority of these two series has long been discussed among scholars. Hind's argument, in opposition to Kristeller and Donati, for the priority of the E-series, has proven most convincing. In fact, numerous technical and stylistic details strongly suggest that this series is the earliest, and that the S-series is a direct copy of it. The iconographic and textual details are mostly identical across the two series – the 'second artist' has even copied some errors in the lettering of the titles, as with the reversed 'N' in the Merchant (pl. 4) – but the quality of outline and modelling in the prints belonging to the E-series is evidently higher: the E-series prints have, as Hind has remarked, an “impressive dignity”: “The E series is engraved with remarkable technical precision and neatness in fine rectangular cross-hatching, more cleanly cut and more clearly printed [...] The S series is cut with less precision [...] Moreover the engraver of the S series shows a certain lack of skill in the control of his graver, letting his lines of shading slip from time to time over the contour-line of his figures” (Hind I, p. 224). Furthermore, forty-two of the images are completely or partially reversed in the S-series, and one image – the Re (pl. 8) – was extensively modified: in the E-series the image of the King still follows the medieval iconography, while in the subsequent S-series it is significantly changed into the image of a classical ruler (see Hind, 8b, pl. 327).

The E-series was executed around 1465, as supported by documentary evidence in the form of a Bolognese manuscript – dated to 1467 and preserved in the State Archives in Bologna – which contains a miniature featuring a close copy of the print titled Imperator (pl. 9). Further evidence is found in a manuscript held at the Abbey Library of Saint Gall (Switzerland) which was completed on 28 November 1468 and contains images of the four cardinal virtues copied from the Tarots of Mantegna. The S-series is generally dated to about 1485, or as late as the end of the 1480s, and the attribution is similarly uncertain.

The possible identity of the artist(s) who produced these Tarocchi, as well as their possible pictorial sources, is still a controversial topic that is open to debate. It has long been acknowledged that their execution should not be attributed to Mantegna. Scholars have since variously turned their attributions to schools or artists operating in different Italian cities; among these Venice had previously been considered most probable, as argued by Kristeller and others, owing to the presence of a print titled Doxe, i.e., the head of government in that lagunar town. However, the Tarocchi may instead be the work of artists belonging to the Ferrarese school, as several stylistic and iconographic features suggest. For example, a figure similar to the Merchadante (i.e., the Merchant, pl. 4) appears in a fresco devoted to the Month of August in the Palazzo Schifanoia cycle, while the Chavalier (i.e., the Knight, pl. 6) bears close resemblance to a figure included in the Triumph of Venus from the Month of April, likewise part of the fresco cycle executed by Francesco Cossa.

Furthermore, other prints of the Tarocchi closely resemble two allegorical figures of the Muses preserved in the National Museum of Art in Budapest and attributed to the Sienese artist Angelo Parrasio, a pupil of Piero della Francesca who was active at the Ferrarese court between 1447 and 1456, and who worked on a series of Muses painted for the Este studio at Belfiore. Other similarities can be found in the figures of the two Enthroned Goddesses belonging to the Strozzi Collection in Florence, likewise attributed by Georg Gombosi to Parrasio. On this basis, Kenneth Clark has concluded that Parrasio may have been the designer of the Tarocchi, an attribution which is, however, rather speculative: “there is no documentary evidence of printmaking in Italy before the 1460s, and if the Tarocchi were engraved after Parrasio's inventions, they would have to be dated around 1455. More importantly, it is hard to believe that the Tarocchi are simply reproductive prints [...] Their meticulous, even exquisite technique is so perfectly suited to the style of the images that the engraver and the designer must have been identical [...] we think it most likely that the Tarocchi are the work of a miniaturist, not a monumental painter, schooled in the circle of the Budapest and Strozzi master and active in Ferrara in the early 1460s” (Levenson, Early Italian Engravings, p. 87).

The set presented here is in good condition, with 10-15-mm margins on all four sides. It contains a total of fifty engravings, forty-eight of which belong to the earliest E-series (Hind 1a-18a, 20a-31a, 33a-50a; Bartsch 18A-35A, 37A-48A, 50A-67A), and two to the S-series, Clio (pl. 19; Hind 19b; Bartsch 36) and Chronico or The Genius of Time (pl. 32; Hind 32b; Bartsch 49). Only one print – the Rhetorica (pl. 23; Hind 23a; Bartsch 40A) – has more recently been added to the set, while the two S-series plates have been ab origine, i.e., always, bound with the forty-seven from the E-series.

Even single plates in good condition are extremely scarce on the market, with complete sets being almost impossible to find; Bartsch records ten complete sets in public collections, including only three bound sets in the Museo di Capodimonte in Naples, the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, and the Museo Civico in Pavia. Another bound set with one plate missing is held at the Musée Condé, Château de Chantilly. To these four bound sets already on record, the present set is now to be added, providing significant further evidence that the Tarocchi were originally printed in pairs of two to a single sheet, with each sheet subsequently folded and bound together as a book, or, more frequently, cut as single prints.

In addition to its extraordinary completeness and rarity, the set described here is of the greatest importance and value owing to its provenance, which narrates a fascinating tale of collecting, even within the already fascinating context of the Tarots of Mantegna. The set's earliest recorded owner was Natalizio Benedetti (1559-1614), an outstanding antiquarian and collector from Foligno (Umbria). He was priore novello of the city in 1592, then entered the service of Bishop and later Cardinal Filippo Filonardi (ca. 1576-1622). Benedetti had a wide European network of relationships, as evinced through his correspondence with the renowned book collector, antiquarian, and great patron of the arts, Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc (1580-1637). In 1601 Peiresc had visited Benedetti's museum or cimeliarchium in Foligno, and their late, mutual correspondence testifies not only to the exchange of learned information between the two men, but also to the number of jewels, antiques, and other art objects which Benedetti had amassed in his palace. Contemporary sources refer to Benedetti's possession of about five hundred volumes, and to the drawing-up of a 294-page catalogue of his entire art collection. After his death on 27 October 1614, his marvellous collection of books, prints, coins, jewels, sculptures, antiques, and other objects of exquisite taste, valued at approximately 5,000 scudi, was mostly dispersed. Books with his ownership inscription, many speaking to his antiquarian interests, are scattered across various libraries, in Italy and abroad, as in the case of a copy of the Antichità di Roma by Pirro Ligorio at the Stanford University Library. In 1774 the aforementioned catalogue is known to have been in the hands of Abbot Giovanni Mengoli, then rector of the Foligno seminary, who had received it as a gift from Natalizio's heirs. Unfortunately, the catalogue of Benedetti's collection is now believed to be lost; however, an interesting trace has recently been discovered in a manuscript held at the Biblioteca Marciana in Venice (ms Ital. Cl. VI, cod. 214) relating to another great Italian collector of the age, Francesco Angeloni (1587-1652), who had purchased a large portion of Benedetti's antique collection, then passed in the hands of Giovanni Pietro Bellori (1613-1696), and now partially preserved in the State Museums in Berlin. This manuscript provides a brief summary of the items found in Natalizio's studio after his death, including the general entry “Una quantità di dissegni a penna et in stampa notabili, et altre cose diverse curiose, et belle” (see V. Carpita, “Natalizio Benedetti e Nicolas de Peiresc”, doc. 3, p. 154). Among those 'notable drawings and prints' the anonymous compiler had perhaps had in mind the volume containing the so-called Tarots of Mantegna, a masterpiece which, in the volume presented here, provides a precious record of the history of collecting prints and drawings, along with its different practices throughout the centuries.

After Natalizio's death, the Tarots remained in the possession of the Benedetti family, and then, at the end of the eighteenth century, the collateral line of Roncalli-Benedetti (see B. Lattanzi, “La mostra dei Tarocchi a Foligno”). In 1989, the historian Luigi Sensi provided the first information on the possible fate of Natalizio's collection, mentioning, among others, “una singolare serie di stampe del XV e del XVI secolo che ha seguito, per via ereditaria, la storia della famiglia e che ora è conservata presso i discendenti”, i.e., a “singular series of engravings dating to the fifteenth and sixteenth century which followed, by descent, the story of the family, and is now owned by its descendants” (L. Sensi, “Alla ricerca della collezione di Natalizio Benedetti”, p. 634). In 1990, this 'singular series of engravings' was shown in Foligno, at the occasion of the exhibition Tarocchi. Le carte del destino (i.e.,'Tarocchi: The Cards of Destiny'), for which they were carefully described by Bernardino Lattanzi in his report “La mostra dei Tarocchi a Foligno”. Here Lattanzi described the set as being in its exceedingly rare book form, consisting of forty-nine engravings, of which forty-seven belonged to the earliest E-series, and two (Clio and Chronico) to the S-series. Only one print – the Rhetorica – was lacking, and the recto of the first leaf bore the ownership inscription 'De Natalitis Benedetti. Suoi Amici e fr.elli.': this is undoubtedly the very set presented here. Lattanzi's description does, however, add a critical detail for our reconstruction, in that it reports that the album contains – or better yet, contained, in 1990 – not only the celebrated Tarots of Mantegna, but also thirty-eight additional engravings executed by various fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Italian and German artists, mostly by the renowned German 'Master ES' (see B. Lattanzi, “La mostra dei Tarocchi a Foligno”, pp. 568-569). Evidently, along with other print collectors of the Baroque, Natalizio Benedetti had glued supplementary engravings – unrelated to the subject-matter of the Tarots – onto the blank sides of the leaves bound in his volume. Indeed, it was a tendency among collectors of the time to assemble a specific series of engravings alongside other items, thereby creating heterogeneous art objects.

But the surprises do not stop there. Although unrecorded in its provenance, in 1979 Sotheby's offered the album at auction, presenting the forty-nine Tarot plates bound exactly as they are now (forty-seven plates from the E-series, and the two aforementioned from the S-series) in one lot: they also offered close to thirty-eight fifteenth- and sixteenth-century German and Italian engravings as single lots. The Sotheby's catalogue seems to attest to the dismantling, although in 1990 Lattanzi was once again able to describe the collection as a composite album in the hands (or returned into the hands?) of Benedetti's descendants. In fact, eleven years after the Sotheby's auction, Lattanzi lists – often providing descriptions and illustrations – not only the unsold (or more probably withdrawn) Sotheby's lots which had returned to their original owners, but also surprisingly describes those that were sold! The Foligno Tarots exhibition was re-installed in Rome, Castel S. Angelo, in 1996, and the related catalogue was published in a new and revised edition; from this catalogue we discover that Bernardino Lattanzi was not only the compiler of the 1990 description of Natalizio Benedetti's album, but also the owner of it, being himself a descendant of the Roncalli-Benedetti family.

Regrettably, the album no longer exists in its original form, and only the marvellous series of Tarots survived the disassembling intact. These were eventually sold at auction by Christie's London in 2009; in the provenance, the sale catalogue indicates Natalizio Benedetti, and then “by descent to the present owners”, an aristocratic Italian family (i.e., Lattanzi family).

Despite such questions, however, it is abundantly clear that the so-called Tarots of Mantegna once owned by the distinguished antiquarian and collector Natalizio Benedetti are presented here in all their magnificence, a universally acknowledged symbol of the Renaissance in its purest expression, when art, craft, science and philosophy, were merged together in the service of humanity.

A. M. Hind, Early Italian Engravings. A Critical Catalogue, I, pp. 221-240; The Illustrated Bartsch, 24.3, pp. 1-61; G. Gombosi, “A Ferrarese Pupil of Piero della Francesca”, Burlington Magazine, 62 (1933), pp. 66-78; K. Clark, “Letter”, Burlington Magazine, 62 (1933), p. 143; J. A. Levenson et al., Early Italian Engravings from the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC 1973, pp. 157; C. Cieri Via, “I Tarocchi cosiddetti del Mantegna. Origine, significato e fortuna di un ciclo di immagini”, G. Berti - A. Vitali (eds.), I tarocchi, le carte di corte. Gioco e magia alla corte degli Estensi, Bologna 1987, pp. 49-77; E. Calandra, I Tarocchi detti del Mantegna, Pavia 1992; B. Giordano, “I cosiddetti Tarocchi del Mantegna”, R. Signorini (ed.), A casa di Andrea Mantegna, Cinisello Balsamo, Milano 2006, pp. 298-307; S. Pollack, “I cosiddetti Tarocchi di Mantegna”, M. Natale (ed.), Cosmè Tura e Francesco del Cossa. L'arte a Ferrara nell'età di Borso d'Este. Catalogo della mostra, Ferrara 2007, pp. 398-403; D. M. Faloci Pulignani, “Tre antiche stampe del Giardinetto”, Il Bibliofilo, 5 (1884), pp. 153-157; L. Sensi, “Alla ricerca della collezione di Natalizio Benedetti”, Bollettino storico della città di Foligno, L. Sensi, “Alla ricerca della collezione di Natalizio Benedetti”, Bollettino Storico della città di Foligno, 13 (1989), pp. 629-639; G. Berti, P. Marsili, A. Vitali (eds.), Tarocchi. Le carte del destino. Catalogo della mostra, Foligno 15 settembre-14 ottobre 1990, Faenza 1990; B. Lattanzi, “La mostra dei Tarocchi a Foligno”, Bollettino storico della città di Foligno, 14 (1990), pp. 565-572; B. Marinelli, “Delle dimore della famiglia Benedetti”, ibid., 19 (1995), pp. 581-601; G. Berti - A. Vitali (eds.), Tarocchi. Le carte del destino. Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant'Angelo, Roma 1996, pp. 12-13; L. Sensi, “Natalizio Benedetti e la sua collezione”, Peiresc (1604-2004). Actes du colloque tenu à Peyresq du 26 au 30 août 2004, Science et Techniques en perspective, 9 (2005), pp. 153-171 ; V. Carpita, “Natalizio Benedetti e Nicolas de Peiresc. Dal gusto per le “anticaglie” agli esordi dell'archeologia”, M. Fumaroli - F. Solinas - V. Carpita (eds.), Peiresc et l'Italie, Paris 2009, pp. 105-156; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 8.

Renaissance Architecture, printed on blue paper

3. Serlio, Sebastiano (1475-1554)

Il terzo libro... nel qual si figurano, e descrivono le antiquità di Roma, e le altre che sono in Italia, e fuori d’Italia. Venice, Francesco Marcolini, February 1540 (bound with:) Idem. Regole generali di architettura... sopra le cinque maniere de gli edifici, cioe, thoscano, dorico, ionico, corinthio, e composito, con gli essempi de l’antiquita, che per la maggior parte concordano con la dottrina di Vitruvio. Francesco Marcolini, February 1540.

Two works in one volume, folio (342x240 mm). Printed on blue paper. I. Collation: A2, B-V4. CLV, [1] pages. Lacking fols. H1 and H4, probably replaced by the first recorded owner with the leaves from an ordinary copy, and fols. R2 and R3 supplied with two manuscript leaves. Roman and italic type. Title within a cartouche surmounting a woodcut depiction of ancient Roman ruins with the caption 'ROMA QUANTA FUIT IPSA RUINA DOCET'. Woodcut printer's device and colophon framed by a cartouche on the verso of fol. V4. 120 woodcuts, including thirty-two full-page and four double-page blocks. Woodcut animated initials throughout. II. Collation: A-T4. LXXVI leaves. Lacking fol. B1 which is supplied with a manuscript leaf. Roman and italic type. Woodcut architectural title. Woodcut printer's device and colophon framed by a cartouche on the verso of fol. T4. 126 woodcuts, fifty-six full-page illustrations, including six plates on three leaves (fols. S4-T2). Woodcut animated initials throughout. Eighteenth-century brown half-morocco, marbled covers. Spine with title in gilt lettering. A good copy, old paper repairs to the gutter and to outer margin of fols. V2 and V3 of the first edition bound. The lower margin of fol. A4 in the second edition bound has been repaired, some ink stains.

Provenance: Francesco Bartoli (possibly the Bolognese antiquarian (1675-1733); early ownership inscription on the first title-page and the margins of fol. V3 in the first edition bound, as well as fol. A4v of the second one, partially legible under UV lamp). To the skilled hand of this early owner are attributed the drawings that replace the lacking leaves, and the marginalia.

This miscellaneous volume, exceptionally printed on blue paper, contains the first edition of Book III from this fundamental work by the celebrated Bolognese architect Serlio; it is followed by the second edition of Book IV or Regole generali di architettura, which originally appeared in Venice in 1537. The early owner of this volume may be identified as the Bolognese antiquarian Francesco Bartoli (1675-1733), who drew numerous copies of antiques, and played a notable role in the eighteenth-century reception of the classical tradition, especially in Britain. It is also likewise possible to attribute to his hand the finely drawn leaves on white paper which replace those lacking on blue paper.

Serlio's monumental work represents the first treatise on architecture in which the illustrations assumed primary importance, leading it to become one of the most important architectural books to disseminate knowledge of antique heritage and invention during the Italian Renaissance throughout Europe.

The work is made up of seven Books, which were published separately following an order explained by Serlio in Book IV. Book III, on ancient monuments, is dedicated to the King of France, François I, and appeared in Venice in 1540, while Book I and Book II, on geometry and perspective respectively, were published simultaneously in bilingual Italian-French editions in Paris in 1545, after Serlio's move to Fontainebleau. Book V, containing twelve temple designs, followed in 1547; it was the last to be published during Serlio's lifetime, once again in Paris in bilingual version. Book VI, on domestic architecture, was never published, and survives only in two manuscript versions and a series of trial woodcuts. Finally, Book VII was edited posthumously by Jacopo Strada and published in Frankfurt in 1575. By the early seventeenth century Serlio's treatise, and its various parts, had been translated into several languages, some as unauthorised editions.

Book III is especially important, and the layout Serlio adopted for it, with its well-balanced blocks of text and images, was later copied by Palladio in his Quattro Libri dell'Architettura of 1570 (see no. 145). “The first genuine advance in architectural illustration seems to have been made by Serlio, and his Libro Terzo set the type of architectural illustration in Italy for the rest of the Century” (Fowler).

The text and the illustrations were both the result of Serlio's own investigations and derivations from the work of other architects, above all Serlio's master, Baldassare Peruzzi, whom he had assisted on a project for the façade of the Bolognese Basilica of San Petronio in the early 1520s. At the end, Serlio adds a separate treatise on Egyptian antiquities – Trattato di alcune cose meravigliose de l'Egitto – which derives mainly from Diodorus Siculus, which presents among other things a perspectival elevation and a description of the Pyramid of Cheops near Cairo, as well as the description and imaginary reconstruction of a monument containing one hundred columns, the remains of which Serlio states were found in Greece.

Book IV – Regole generali – represents the first handbook to summarize the new architectural style, establishing a canon of the five classical architectural orders on the basis of Roman remains. Like the previous edition described, the work is finely illustrated.

The printer Marcolini issued some copies of his editions of Book III and of Book IV on large blue paper as presentation or special copies. Walters Art Gallery has a copy of each of these, while the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has a copy of Book III only.

I. Mortimer Italian, 472; Berlin Katalog 2560; Fowler 308; RIBA 2968 and 2966; II. Charvet, 2; Fowler 314; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 97.

One of the two known copies printed on blue paper

4. Biondo, Michelangelo (1500-1565)

Della nobilissima pittura, et della sua arte, del modo, et della dottrina, di conseguirla, agevolmente et presto. al segno di Apolline, Bartolomeo Imperatore, 1549.

8° (152x100 mm). Printed on blue paper. Collation: A4, A-G4. [4], 27, [1] leaves. Italic and roman type. Woodcut printer's device on the verso of the last leaf. Woodcut decorated initials. Dark blue morocco signed by Masson De Bonnel. Spine with five raised bands, title in gilt lettering. Marbled pastedowns and flyleaves, inside dentelles. Gilt edges. A very good copy, loss to the outer lower corner of the title-page and fol. G3, in both cases not affecting text; few lightly browned stains.

Provenance: early illegible ownership inscription in brown ink on recto of fol. A2.

A copy exceptionally printed on blue paper of the first appearance in print of the famous Della nobilissima pittura, an edition rarely seen on the market: there exists only one auction record of an ordinary copy in the last sixty years.

The treatise was written by the Venetian physician Michelangelo Biondo, who lived mainly in Naples and Rome. Della nobilissima pittura is dedicated to the 'Eccellentissimi Pittori di tutta l'Europa', and represents one of the most interesting works on art theory produced during the Italian Renaissance; in it, Biondo avers the dignity of painting, arguing for its worthy consideration as a liberal art.

Along with Lancilotti's Trattato di pittura, Biondo's work represents one of the first sixteenth-century attempts to adopt the literary form of the dream-narrative: in Della nobilissima pittura the personification of painting appears to the author in a dream and laments her low stature among the liberal arts. Biondo quotes numerous contemporary artists and authors, and further references various other writings on the topic, thereby offering a valuable survey of Renaissance art theory.

Of the first edition of the Della nobilissima pittura, only one other copy on blue paper is recorded, which is preserved in the Fondo Cicognara of the Biblioteca Vaticana. The present copy could well be that volume in carta Turchina listed in the catalogue of the Bibliotheca Smithiana, the celebrated library assembled by Joseph Smith (ca. 1682-1770), British consul in Venice between 1744 and 1760, and sold in the lagunar city in 1755.

STC Italian 106; Cicognara 82; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 108.

A milestone in the history of architecture

6. Palladio, Andrea (1508-1580)

I Quattro Libri dell’Architettura di Andrea Palladio. Ne’ quali, dopo un breue trattato de’ cinque ordini, & di quelli auertimenti, che sono piu necessarij nel fabricare; si tratta delle Case priuate, delle Vie, de i Ponti, delle Piazze, de i Xisti, et de’ Tempij. de' Franceschi Domenico, 1570.

Four parts in one volume, folio (290x195 mm). Collation: A2, B-I4; AA-KK4 (quire HH misbound, in the sequence HH2, HH1, HH4, and HH3); AAA-FFF4; AAAA-RRRR4 (fol. FFFF1 signed EEEE1). 67, [1]; 78 (misnumbered 66), [2]; 46, [2]; 128, [8] pages. Complete with the blank leaves KK4 and RRRR4. Roman and italic type. Each title-page within architectural woodcut borders, de' Franceschi's printer's device included in the upper panel. A different printer's device appears on the verso of fol. RRRR3. 221 woodcut illustrations, plans, and sections (156 are full-page blocks, including eighty-four printed as plates, recto and verso of fourty-two leaves) executed after Palladio's drawings by Giovanni and Cristoforo Chrieger, Cristoforo Coriolano, and others. Numerous woodcut animated initials. Handsome early nineteenth-century green calf, over pasteboards. Covers framed by undulating gilt fillet, small floral tools at each corner. Smooth spine, divided into compartments by simple dotted gilt fillets, title lettered in gold on red morocco label; on the fourth compartment the inscription 'PRIMA EDIZIONE', and imprint at the foot, both in gilt lettering. Marbled pastedowns and flyleaves, board edges decorated with gilt freeze, inside dentelles. Green silk bookmark, gilt edges. The lower corners lightly bumped. A very fine copy; light foxing in places, the lower margin of fol. I2 slightly trimmed.

A milestone in the history of architecture: the first edition of the Quattro Libri dell'Architettura by the Paduan theorist and practising architect Andrea di Pietro della Gondola, universally known as Andrea Palladio, after the name given to him by his patron and renowned humanist Giangiorgio Trissino. He was primarily active as an architect in Venice, Vicenza, and along the Brenta river, where he built magnificent villas for wealthy members of the Venetian patriciate.

This authoritative and influential treatise celebrates the purity and simplicity of classical architecture, drawing its inspiration from Roman sources, especially Vitruvius, and Italian Renaissance architects, above all Leon Battista Alberti. The work is divided into four parts or libri, devoted to orders and elementary problems, domestic buildings, public buildings, and town planning and temples. “Palladio followed the rules of classical Roman architecture more closely than any other architect, even sometimes at the cost of practicability and domestic comfort. In spite of the vogue for the baroque and the fact that Palladio left no immediate successors, his book exerted a powerful influence on contemporary architecture and classical ideals until the end of the eighteenth century [...] 'Palladianism' became a party label in the world of connoisseurship and England blossomed with buildings 'in the Palladian style' – two centuries after Palladio had created it. From England the style made its way into Scotland, Ireland and America” (PMM). The treatise was reprinted and translated many times over the following centuries.

The publication of 1570 is rightly famous and highly sought after by collectors for the splendid series of woodcuts which accompany the text. The woodblocks were re-used in a 1581 edition printed in Venice, and later again in France in the seventeenth century. Some of the woodcuts are generally attributed to Cristoforo Coriolano and the brothers Giovanni and Cristoforo Chrieger. Especially noteworthy are the woodcuts in the second libro depicting plans and elevations of villas, including the famous Villa Maser built for Palladio's patron Daniello Barbaro.

Mortimer Italian, 352; Berlin Katalog 2592; Cicognara 594; Fowler 212; Olschki Choix, 15125; PMM 92; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 145.

From the celebrated Pillone Library Vecellio’s drawings on vellum covers

7. Tomai, Tomaso (d. 1593)

Historia di Ravenna... Diuisa in quattro parti. Nella quale oltre le cose notabili di questa Repubblica; breuemente si trattano principalissime guerre di diuerse nationi.... Francesco Tebaldini, 1580.

4° (196x127 mm). Collation: †4, 22, A-Z4, Aa-Dd4. [12], 214 [i.e. 216] pages. Roman and italic type. Woodcut arms of Pope Gregory XIII on the title-page. Woodcut decorated initials. In its original limp vellum binding, covers decorated with ink drawings by Cesare Vecellio (1521-1601): the upper cover depicts the church of Santa Maria della Rotonda in Ravenna, the lower one a part of the city ramparts. Traces of two pairs of ties on the fore-edge. Smooth spine decorated in ink with stylised acanthus leaves; painted edges, on the fore-edge a view of the city, and the inscription 'RAVENA'. Very good copy, lightly stained and spotted, more prominently on the leaves of quires M and T; pale waterstain at the blank outer margin of the first leaves.

Provenance: Odorico Pillone (1503-1593); Sir Thomas Brooke of Armitage Bridge House, Huddersfield (1830-1908; ex-libris on the front pastedown; see A Catalogue of the Manuscripts and Printed Books Collected by Thomas Brooke, F.S.A. Vol. II. M-Z, London 1891, no. 158, “Tomai, Tommaso. Historia di Ravenna. In Ravenna, 1580. 4to. v.”); from Humprey Brooke to Pierre Berès (P. Berès, Un group de livres Pillone. Catalogue no. 67, Paris 1957, no. 158; label on the front pastedown 'Livre no. 158 de la Bibliothèque Pillone Pierre Berès'); Sotheby's London, 25 May 2000, lot 97.

A splendid copy of the second edition of this rare work on the history of Ravenna, owned by the well-known bibliophile from Belluno, Odorico Pillone (1503-1593). In 1580, Pillone famously commissioned the painter Cesare Vecellio (1521-1601; see nos. 159 and 169) to decorate, with drawings or painted fore-edges, the bindings of 172 volumes preserved in his Villa Casteldardo in the Dolomites, in which he had established his Studio. Vecellio, a cousin and pupil of Titian who worked in his atelier until his death, thus decorated the fore-edges of the majority of Pillone's library, depicting characters and landscapes relating to the subject of each book. Vecellio is also famously the author of Habiti antichi et moderni, the well-known illustrated history of clothing, in which he mentions the library and other collections of the Pillone family, as well as their exquisite hospitality in their Villa.

The present example represents one of only twenty one volumes that Vecellio adorned with drawings on the covers, and one of the very few with both decorated vellum covers and painted fore-edges: the rich imagery features views of a fairy-tale Ravenna with Santa Maria della Rotunda and a fortification artfully drawn in a Mannerist style. The inked inscription 'RAVENA' embellishes the edge.

In 1874, a Pillone descendant sold the entire collection to English bibliophile Thomas Brooke for 20,000 lire. After the latter's death, Humphrey Brooke, the heir of the collection, entrusted the sale to Alan Keen, who compiled a catalogue of its contents (The Venetian Library Collected at the Close of the Sixteenth Century by Doctor Odorico Pillone and the Sides and Edges Painted by Cesare Vecellio, London 1951). The collection was then purchased in 1957 by the French bookseller Pierre Berès, who immediately put it on sale, publishing a catalogue with the help of Italian art historian Lionello Venturi. The collection, united until then, was thus dispersed.

P. Berès, Bibliothèque Pillone, Paris, 1957, no. 158; T. Conte (ed.), Cesare Vecellio, 1521 c.-1601, Belluno 2001; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 157.

From the celebrated Pillone Library Vecellio’s drawn maps on vellum covers

8. Anania, Gianni Lorenzo da (1545-1609)

L’uniuersale fabrica del mondo, overo Cosmografia... Diuisa in quattro Trattati... Di nuouo ornata con le figure delle quattro parti del Mondo in Rame. Andrea Muschio for Giacomo Aniello De Maria, 1582.

4° (218x157 mm). Collation: †8, ††4, a-d4, A-Z4, Aa- Zz4, Aaa-Bbb4, Ddd6. [56], 402 pages, lacking the last blank leaf. Roman and italic type. Woodcut printer's device on the title-page. One double-page engraved map of 'ORBIS DESCRIPTIO'; four folding engraved maps depicting Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas. Woodcut decorated initials, head- and tailpieces. Contemporary vellum over pasteboards, with original drawings in pen and ink executed by Cesare Vecellio, depicting a map of Europe, Asia, and Africa on the front cover, and a map of the Americas (Mondo Novo) on the back. Spine with three raised bands, title 'FABRICHA DEL MONDO' vertically inked in the two central compartments, arabesques in ink at the external compartments. Edges decorated with curving lines. Binding in excellent condition, a little faint staining, two pairs of ties on the fore-edge replaced. A good copy, small repairs to the leaves of the first quire, affecting a few letters, light browning, the first leaves slightly waterstained; a small wormhole at the upper blank margin.

Provenance: Odorico Pillone of Casteldardo (1503-1593); Sir Thomas Brooke of Armitage Bridge House, Huddersfield (1830-1908; ex-libris on the front pastedown; see A Catalogue of the Manuscripts and Printed Books Collected by Thomas Brooke, F.S.A. Vol. II. M-Z, London 1891, no. 100, “Lorenzo d'Anania, Gio. L'Universale Fabrica del Mondo, overo Cosmografia. In Venetia, 1587. 4to. v.”); from Humprey Brooke to Pierre Berès (P. Berès, Un group de livres Pillone. Catalogue no. 67, Paris 1957, no. 132; label on the front pastedown 'Livre no. 132 de la Bibliothèque Pillone Pierre Berès'); John Roland Abbey (1896-1969; ex-libris on the front pastedown; sale Sotheby's 21 June 1967, Catalogue of the Celebrated Library of Major J.R. Abbey. 3rd portion. London 1967, lot 2091); Sotheby's London, 25 May 2000, lot 89.

A rare surviving copy from the celebrated library assembled by the Pillone family in their Villa of Casteldarno in Val Cadore, near Belluno: the third edition of Anania's Cosmografia, an influential and much-cited sixteenth-century guide which first appeared in Naples in 1573, and presented here in a magnificent vellum binding decorated with India ink and wash drawings by Cesare Vecellio (1521-1601; see no. 157), a cousin and pupil of Titian. Vecellio is also famously the author of Habiti antichi et moderni, as well as the Corona delle nobili e virtuose donne, one of the finest cut pattern books for embroidery and lace designs (see no. 169).

The library was formed by the Pillones over several generations, but significantly expanded by Antonio (1464-1533) and his eldest son Odorico (1503-1594). These finely painted bindings were commissioned by Odorico, or possibly by his son Giorgio in the late 1570s-1580s. In all, 172 books were bound and decorated, mainly by Vecellio and a few other artists.

The Pillone Library was larged and varied, and well supplied with geographical books and travel narratives. The present copy of Anania's Universale fabrica del mondo or Cosmografia is one of only twenty-one volumes bound in vellum whose covers were finely decorated by Vecellio with drawings in pen and ink appropriate to the content of the book, which in this case contains – along the double-page engraved map of 'orbis descriptio' – four folding engraved maps of the continents known at the time, depicting Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas. On the upper cover, Vecellio presents a map of Europe, Asia, and Africa, while the lower cover bears a map depicting the Mondo Novo.

“Si elles n'ont pas pour l'amateur d'art le prix inestimable des oeuvres originales de Vecellio, elles offrent pour l'amateur de livres des spécimens également désirables à cause de leur précision iconographique et de l'élegance de leur facture. Les vélins peints [...] ressortissent plus à la gravure qu'au dessin. Leur presence [...] concourt à donner sa physionomie unique à la bibliothèque Pillone. Par le souci réellement artistique qui a présidé à leur décoration et dont on ne connaît aucun exemple, ils doivent être considerés commes des oeuvres artistiques exceptionnelles” (L. Venturi, Cesare Vecellio et la Bibliothèque Pillone, introduction to Bibliothèque Pillone).

STC Italian 26; Bibliothèque Pillone, 132; Sabin 1364; T. Conte (ed.), Cesare Vecellio, 1521 c.-1601, Belluno 2001; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 159.

German Fortresses

9. Speckle, Daniel (1536-1589)

Architectura von Vestungen. Wie die zu unsern zeiten mögen erbawen werden, an Stätten Schlössern, unnd Clussen, zu Wasser, Land, Berg, unnd Thal, mit jren Bollwerken, Cavalieren, Streichen, Gräben und Leuffen.... Bernhardt Jobin, 1589.

Folio (347x235 mm). Collation: )(4, (.:.)4, A-Q4, R2, R-Z4, Aa-Ee4, [χ]1. [8], 112, [i.e. 114, 1-66, [1], 66-112], [1] leaves. The last leaf contains the errata. Gothic and roman type. Title printed in red and black within an engraved architectural border by Matthias Greuter, woodcut coat of arms of the dedicatee Julius Duke of Braunschweig. Twenty-one engravings (twenty double page, sometimes appearing as two single leaves). Numerous woodcut illustrations in the text. Contemporary limp vellum with supralibros and spine label added later. Some darkening and soiling to the covers. Binding slightly smutty. A very good copy, slightly browned, a few marginal waterstains.

Provenance: the English writer and historian Walter Hawken Tregellas (1831-1894; presentation label on the pastedown); Royal Engineers Library (gilt stamp on the binding, ink stamp on the title-page and a few other places); Arthur & Charlotte Vershbow, acquired from Marlborough Rare Books, 1976 (ex-libris on the recto of the front flyeleaf; see The Collection of Arthur & Charlotte Vershbow, Christie's New York 2013, lot 317).

Rare first edition of this famous, and magnificently illustrated treatise on fortification and town-planning by one of the outstanding European specialists in architectura militaris. Speckle worked in his hometown of Strasbourg, and then in Dusseldorf, Regensburg, Vienna and probably also in Hungary. His Architectura von Vestungen (The Architecture of Fortresses) is the first important contribution to the subject in the German-speaking world since Albrecht Dürer's Etliche Underricht zur Befestigung der Stett (1527). It had immediate success, and became the standard reference work on the construction of fortresses until a decisive change occurred in the manner in which wars where fought. Its influence reaches well into the eighteenth century, and the work was published again in 1599, 1608, 1705, and 1756.

“Speckle writes his treatise from a strongly national motivation as is clear from his preface. He wishes to prove that the Germans are not completely without imagination, and that their invention of printing and of a 'grausam Geschütz' ('fearsome artillery') shows them to be the 'the greatest in the world' in these fields. He attacks, above all, the Italian theorists for their academic disputes, declaring their rules to be outmoded and openly ridiculing their approach ('when someone has no Latin, he cannot understand it, and so has no business to talk about it'). He demonstrates the urgency of fortification, as Dürer has done, by reference to the Turkish threat. Speckle claims to be familiar with fifty or sixty types of fortification, but restricts himself to a few only. He writes in German and avoids foreign words, ‘so that every German – such as I too have the honour to call myself – can understand” (H.-W. Kruft, A History of Architectural Theory from Vitruvius to the Present, London-New York 1994, p. 115).

The treatise is accompanied by fine engravings, one of which is signed by the renowned printmaker Matthias Greuter from Strasbourg (1564–1638).

VD16 S-8178; STC German 824; Berlin Katalog 3516; Cockle 789; Millard 123; K. Krüger, “Albrecht Dürer, Daniel Speckle und die Anfänge frühmoderner Städteplanung in Deutschland”, Mitteilungen des Vereins für deutsche Geschichte Nürnbergs, 67 (1980), pp. 79-97; U. Schütte (ed.), Architekt & Ingenieur. Baumeister in Krieg und Frieden, Wolfenbüttel 1984, no. 297; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 166.

The only surviving copy of the very first edition

10. Vecellio, Cesare (ca. 1521-1601)

Corona delle nobili e virtuose donne. Libro primo [- secondo]. Nel quale si dimostra in varj dissegni tutte le sorti di Mostre di Punti tagliati, Punti in aria, Punti à Reticello, e d’ogni altra sorte... Opera nuova e non più data in luce. Giorgio Angelieri for Cesare Vecellio, [1591].

Two parts in one volume, oblong 4° (140x190 mm). Collation: A4, B2, C-F4, Hhh2; AA-FF4. [24]; [24] leaves. Roman and italic type. Vecellio's woodcut bird device on the title-pages. Forty-five woodcut patterns for embroidery and lace designs (twenty-three plates in the first Book: twenty-two in the second one), mostly on black ground and printed on recto only, with the exception of fol. A4 of the Libro primo, bearing illustrations on both sides. Nineteenth-century red morocco, signed on the rear pastedown by Georges Trautz-Bauzonnet (1808-1879). Spine with five raised bands, title lettered in gilt. Marbled pastedowns and flyleaves, inside dentelles. Green silk bookmark, gilt edges. A very good copy, slightly soiled and foxed in the margin.

Provenance: Edward Arnold (d. ca. 1911; ex-libris on the front pastedown; see A Catalogue of the Library Formed by Edward Arnold, Grove Dorking, privately printed, 1921, no. 691, “[...] crimson morocco extra, edges gilt, by Trautz-Bauzonnet”; by descent to his son Andrew W. Arnold (see his sale at Sotheby's, Catalogue of the Valuable Library Largely of French Literature in Handsome Bindings, Formed by the Late Edward Arnold... of the Grove, Dorking, London 1929); purchased by the London bookseller Bernard Quaritch; sale Libreria Vinciana, 8/9 June 1948, lot 280).

The only known copy of the first edition of the first two books of the most distinctive Venetian embroidery pattern book, published by Cesare Vecellio. He was a cousin and pupil of Titian and became especially well known for having decorated, with drawings or painted fore-edges, the bindings of the 172 volumes preserved in Pillone's Villa Casteldardo, in the Dolomites (see nos. 157 and 159). He also published a very successful compendium of world costume, De gli habiti antichi, et moderni di diuerse parti del mondo (Venice 1590). The printing date of the first edition of the Corona is inferred from the two dedicatory letters addressed by Vecellio to Viena Vendramini Nani, wife of the Procurator of St. Marks, and are dated 20 and 24 January 1591, respectively.

This first edition of the Corona delle nobili e virtuose donne (Crown for noble and virtuous Ladies) includes forty-five woodcut patterns for embroidery and lace designs, the geometrical, curving, and almost fantastical white lines of which stand out against a dark background, offering marvellous patterns of punti tagliati or cutworks, punti in aria, punti a reticello or reticella works. The Corona was reprinted several times (two reprints were issued as early as 1591). A third and fourth books also appeared in 1591 and 1593, under the title of Gioiello della corona.

Lotz lists as the only surviving testimony of Angelieri's first edition of the Libro primo and Libro secondo the copy described here, once belonging to Edward Arnold, whose collection was presented in a catalogue privately published in 1921 by his son Andrew, and later sold at auction in London in 1929. Arnold's library included a great number of early pattern books for lace and embroidery (see lot 673- 691). “Of all the library, I am told, the rarest, are the old Venetian lace books. Altogether, as the catalogue shows, there are eighteen of these lace books. It is difficult to estimate their rarity as there are some that are not to be found in the Catalogue of British Museum, Bibliothèque Nationale, nor in Berlin” (A Catalogue of the Library Formed by Edward Arnold, p. IV).

Purchased by Bernard Quaritch, this copy of the Corona delle nobili e virtuose donne was sold again at auction in Italy in 1948 (Libreria Vinciana, 8/9 June 1948, no. 280). Since then, it has remained in a private collection.

Lotz, Bibliographie der Modelbücher, Stuttgart-London 1933, nos. 116a and 117; Cesare Vecellio, Pattern Book of Renaissance Lace: A Reprint of the 1617 Edition of the 'Corona delle nobili et virtuose donne', New York 1988, pp. VII, 35; T. Conte (ed.), Cesare Vecellio, 1521 c.-1601, Belluno 2001; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 169.

Their splendour cannot be described, and anyone who did not see it could not believe it — J. M. Saslow

11. Scarabelli, Orazio (fl. 1580-1600) - D’Alfani, Epifanio (fl. 1586-1615)

Festival prints relating to the wedding of the Grand Duke Ferdinando I de’ Medici to the Princess Christine de Lorraine. Filippo Suchielli, [after 1592].

An album with fifteen double-page etchings and engravings, each leaf approximately 315x418 mm, tipped onto stubs. Eighteenth-century écaille calf, covers within gilt triple-fillet border, at the centre of the upper cover the initials 'P. A.' and, below, 'PIATTI' stamped in gold. Smooth spine decorated with gilt floral tools, title printed in gold on morocco lettering-piece. Marbled pastedowns and flyleaves; light-blue silk bookmark. Red edges. A very good copy, small loss of paper to plate [1], skilfully repaired; some occasional waterstaining and spotting throughout, mainly to the versos and margins.

Provenance: P. A.; Piatti (both lettered on the binding).

An extremely rare collection of these fine prints – all with wide margins – depicting the architectural ornamentation, scenic designs, and jousts relating to the event which mobilized, and combined the intellectual and artistic forces of Tuscany at the zenith of its prestige: the wedding of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Ferdinando I de' Medici, to the French princess, Christine de Lorraine, which took place in 1589.

While the pair had already married in 1586, the marriage was not celebrated until Christine's arrival into Florence on 30 April 1589. The festivities required ten months of preparations, and lasted all throughout the month of May until 8 June 1589. They consisted of pageants, balls, games, cavalcades, processions, a naumachia or naval battle in the inner courtyard of Palazzo Pitti, and other performances – including a demonstrative soccer match in front of the Basilica di Santa Croce on 9 May – all glorifying the couple. Especially noteworthy are the so-called intermedi typical of the Florentine theatre tradition, i.e., short performances of songs, music, and dances inserted between the acts of the comedies being presented.

Owing to the magnificence of the events depicted, it may well be the only festival book to have received a monograph expressly devoted to it: James Saslow's The Medici Wedding of 1589.

While more common examples of these prints can be found loose as single sheets, this copy, like the most comprehensive surviving set (held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and including twenty-nine plates), is bound in a haphazard order featuring a more complete body of work that helps evoke something of the grandeur of these formidable proceedings. The Getty Museum similarly has a composite album, although theirs is lacking our plate [12], Stage setting, intermedio 4.

This comprehensive collection includes fifteen plates, as follows:

Plate [1]: Sixth entry arch, Canto degli Antellesi (platemark 241x322 mm). Unsigned. [Getty no. 17; Saslow no. 6].

Plate [2]: First entry arch, Porta al Prato (platemark 242x340 mm). Signed 'Oraz S.' in the lower right corner. [Getty no. 3; Saslow no. 1].

Plate [3]: Second entry arch, Ponte alla Carraia (platemark 251x337 mm). Signed 'Oraz S.' in the lower right corner. [Getty no. 15; Saslow no. 2].

Plate [4]: Fourth entry arch, Duomo facade (platemark 244x340 mm). Signed 'Oraz S.' in the lower right corner. [Getty no. 14; Saslow no. 4].

Plate [5]: Seventh entry arch, Palazzo Vecchio facade (platemark 265x344 mm). Signed 'filippo suchielli for in Siena' in the lower right corner. [Getty no. 1; Saslow no. 7].

Plate [6]: Fifth entry arch, Canto de' Bischeri (platemark 246x338 mm). Signed 'Oraz S.' in the lower right corner. [Getty no. 2; Saslow no. 5].

Plate [7]: Third entry arch, canto dei Carnesecchi (plate mark 247x337 mm). Signed 'Oraz S.' in the lower right corner. [Getty no. 18; Saslow no. 3].

Plate [8]: Naumachia, Pitti courtyard (platemark 245x350 mm). Signed 'Oraz S.' in the lower right corner; in the middle of the upper margin 'filippo suchielli for Siena'. [Getty no. 6; Saslow no. 87].

Plate [9]: Pitti Palace courtyard equipped for foot-combat (platemark 234x324 mm). Unsigned. [Getty no. 5; Saslow no. 71].

Plate [10]: Stage perspective (platemark 234x342 mm). Signed 'Orazio Schari. Fiorentino' in the lower right corner. [Getty no. 4; Saslow no. 68].

Plate [11]: Joust in Piazza Santa Croce (platemark 241x337 mm). Signed 'Orazio Sccarabelli Fior. no. Fec' in the lower right corner; at the lower left margin 'filippo suchielli for Siena'. [Getty no. 12; Saslow no. 70].

Plate [12]: Stage setting, intermedio 4 (platemark 257x359 mm). Signed on chariot wheel 'D. Epiphanio. d. Alf. M. Vall. Incid.'; at the lower left corner 'filippo suchielli for Siena'. Lacking from Getty Album; [Saslow no. 52].

Plate [13]: Chariot procession of Neptune (platemark 246x335 mm). Signed 'D. Epiph. fec.' in the lower right corner; at the lower left corner 'filippo suchielli for Siena'. [Getty no. 9; Saslow no. 88].

Plate [14]: Stage design, Intermedio 2 (platemark 243x336 mm). Signed and dated 'D. Epif:o d'Alfiano Mon:co Vallombrosano f. 1592' in the lower right corner. At the centre of the lower margin 'filippo suchielli for Siena'. [Getty no. 11; Saslow no. 27].

Plate [15]: Stage scene, Intermedio 5 (platemark 248x355 mm). Unsigned. At the lower left corner 'filippo suchielli for Siena'. [Getty no. 8; Saslow no. 55].

In the present album, plates nos. [1], [2], [5], [7], [8], [11]-[15] are in the second state, after being reworked by the printer and typographer Filippo Succhielli from Siena. Succhielli added his address to plate nos. [5], [8], [11]-[15], and changed some details in plate [1] (adding the inscription 'principes Religione et Iustitia dii fivnt' and two coats of arms at the base of the external columns); in plate [2] by replacing the Medici-Lorena coat of arms; in plate [7] by replacing the Medici-Lorena coat of arms; in plate [14] by adding a cardinal's coat of arms surmounting Apollo's head; in plate [15] by replacing the peacock emblem in the cartouche held by Amphitrite with the cardinal's arm which had previously appeared in plate [15]. Saslow apparently only knows of variants for this plate (in “three states”), ignoring the reworkings found on other plates listed above.

J. M. Saslow, The Medici Wedding of 1589: Florentine Festival as Theatrum Mundi, New Haven, CT 1996; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 171.

A new discovery in the print tradition of the Songes Drolatiques Allemands

12. [Custos, Dominicus, attributed to]

Songes Drolatiques Allemands. Set of twenty-six engravings. [Augsburg, after 1597].

A complete suite of twenty-six plates (108-121x77-90 mm), in the second state of three. Each plate with 4-9-mm margins on all four sides. Plates numbered I-XXVI, at the bottom centre of each plate. Plate XII is signed with the unidentified monogram 'SBR' in reverse, and with the letter 'A' on the left side of the Roman number. Good impressions, very fresh.

Exceptionally rare and complete suite of engravings attributed to the Flemish printer and engraver Dominicus Custos (1560-1612), active in Augsburg from 1590, here in their second, previously unrecorded state. A precious survey of the ornamental grotesque in late sixteenth-century-German graphic art, and an unusually playful testimony to the charm of some of the most imaginative and remarkable 'translations' of sixteenth-century French illustration.

Until the discovery of this second-state set, only one copy of the first state (Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Cabinet des Estampes, Res. Tf-1-Fold, Marolles N° 222), and only an incomplete copy of what is now considered to be the third state (held at the Schloss Wolffegg, Kupferstichkabinett, but possibly now lost) were known.

The Parisian, first-state edition of the Songes Drolatiques Allemands contains a proper printed title-page – Les Songes Drolatiques de Pantagruel ou sont continues plusieurs figures de l'invention de Maistre Francois Rabelais... Imprimé en Augustae Vindelicorum par Iean Pretoir, en despens du Dominique Custodis. M.D.XCVII – based on which art historians have attributed the role of the publication's engraver, or at least its financial backer, to the Flemish artist and printer Dominicus Custos.

Apart from the printed title-page, this first state consists of fifteen single oblong sheets (measuring 154-169x105-121 mm) and mounted by Abbé Marolles (Michel de Marolles, 1600-1681) in a large album, including also a copy of Lucini's Caramogi (see no. 193). Of these, nine sheets contain only one horizontally oriented copperplate, while the remaining six each contain two vertically oriented engravings. The first five plates bear Arabic numerals on the left sides (only the number '4' is still visible in the second state, pl. XI); the subsequent plates 6-9 bear respectively the Arabic numbering 1-4 (with only the numbers '1' and '2' still visible in the second state, pls. V and IV, respectively). These nine engravings of the first state are evidently a new invention by the artist, whereas the remaining six sheets, with two engravings each, are unnumbered, and inspired by the woodcuts included in the Songes drolatiques de Pantagruel, a work attributed to Jean Rabelais and published in 1565 by François Desprez (see the woodcuts on fols. E4r, C4v, D4v, A4v, B7v, C5r, B8r, D8v, C7v, C8r, A5r, and D5r, corresponding to plates XV-XXVI of the second state). These new plates show brilliant combinations of fantastical elements, demonstrating the influence of themes of the so-called 'world upside down' (die verkehrte Welt), and the iconographical tradition known as Schnacken (dragonflies).

For the second state, presented here, the printmaker re-used the first eight copperplates from the first state, each of which contained two figures and was horizontally oriented; he divided these approximately into halves, making an effort to respect the entirety of a given engraving's two figures. He did not use the two small, off-centre images on the fifth and eighth plates, nor that on the ninth, owing to the fact that this was integral to – and thus 'inseparable' from – the original composition. In this way, the printer was able to obtain fourteen vertically oriented, single-figure copperplates. He then used all twelve of the vertically oriented single-figure copperplates from the first state (which had been printed in twos), to arrive, finally, at the total twenty-six single plates.

Each of the second and third state 'vertical' copperplates are set within newly engraved line-border, and are numbered at the bottom with Roman numerals (I to XXVI) which do not correspond to their 'original' placement in the first state.

In the third state – the sole surviving copy of which contains only plates I-II and IV-XXVI – each plate is supplemented by a German moralising quatrain variously engraved in the spaces left empty by the figures.

This newly discovered second-state set is a true testament to the wit and imagination of the Songes drolatiques as well as a critical piece for understanding the evolution of its legacy following the initial Rabelais publication. In this way, it is also a powerful lens into the creative process, offering tangible evidence of the way artists engage with art and its dynamic, multi-layered history.

J. Porcher, “L'auteur des Songes drolatiques de Pantagruel”, Mélanges offert à A. Lanfranc, Paris 1936, pp. 229, 232; Idem, Les songes drolatiques de Pantagruel et l'imagerie en France au XVIe siècle, Paris 1959; J. Baltrusaitis, Réveil et prodiges. Le gothique fantastique, Paris 1960, pp. 348-351 ; E.-M. Schenck, Das Bilderrätsel, Hildesheim 1973, pp. 86, 303; C.-P. Warncke Die ornamental Groteske in Deutschland, 1500-1650, Berlin 1979, I, pp. 71-4, and pls. 628-52; S. Laube, “Songes drolatiques and die Realität der Dinge bei Rabelais and Bruegel”, H. Bredekamp et al. (eds.), Imagination und Rapräsentation, Paderborn 2010, pp. 259-276; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 173.

Bordering on the fringes of heresy and the occult

14. (pseud-) Gioacchino da Fiore

Vaticinia Pontificum. Illustrated manuscript on grey-blue paper, in Italian. Italy, end of the sixteenth century.

266x211 mm. 20 leaves. Complete. Five quires. Collation: 14+1, 24, 34+1, 44,52. Blanks fols. 1/5r and 5/2. Modern pencilled foliation (used here). Written in brown ink, in a unique hand. On the first leaf beneath the title ('Prophetia dello Abbate Ioachino circa li Pontifici & RE'), Christ's monogram 'HIS' within an elaborate cartouche. Thirty-two wash drawings in brown ink heightened in white chalk biacca. On fol. 18r a folding tab pasted to the outer corner bearing the text 'Leo XII. quem Deus sospitem diutissime servet'. Eighteenth-century brown morocco, covers within an elaborate gilt frame, cornerpieces. Smooth spine richly gilt. Marbled edges. Lower joint damaged at the extremities. Preserved in a cloth box with morocco lettering-piece on spine. Manuscript in good condition, the ink has corroded several lines of text, paper eroded in places; all holes have been skilfully repaired.


Fol. 1r: title and elaborate cartouche;

fol. 1v: a friar at a lectern – evidently Joachim of Fiore – preaching to his confreres;

fol. 4v: monk with a halo giving books to four monks and four nuns;

fol. 5r: Onorius IV ('Dure fatiche sustinerà del corpo');

fol. 5v: Celestinus IV ('La voce vulpina perderà il principato');

fol. 6r: Alexander V ('La confusione et errore sera uitiato');

fol. 6v: Iohannes XXIII ('Elatione');

fol. 7r: Benedictus XIII ('Li homini forti sara orbati de la Inuidia');

fol. 7v: Clemens V ('Mobile, et immobile se fara, et assai mati guastata');

fol. 8r: Innocentius VII ('Le decime seranno dissipate in la effusione del sangue');

fol. 8v: Gregorius XII ('La penitentia, tenera le vestigie de Simon Mago');

fol. 9r: Niccolo III ('Le stelle congregara accioche luceno nel firmamento del cielo'):

fol. 9v: Martinus IV ('Con le chiaue serara et non aprira');

fol. 10r: Nicolaus IV ('Loriente beuera del Calice de lira de Dio');

fol. 10v: Bonifacius VIII ('Fraudolentemente sei intrato potentemente hai regnato, tu morirai gemendo');

fol. 11r: Iohannes XXII ('Contra la Columba questa imagine brutissima de Chierici pugnata');

fol. 11v: Benedictus XII ('Sei Planeti lucidata et finalmente uno excedera il fulgore di quelle');

fol. 12r: Clemens VI ('La Stola sua delbara nel sangue de l'agnello');

fol. 12v: Innocentius VI ('Il lupo habitata con lo agnello, et parimente cibaransi');

fol. 13r: Urbanus V ('Questo sole aprira il libro scritto con il dito de Dio viuo');

fol. 13v: Gregorius XI ('Li fiori rossi laqua odorifera distillarano');

fol. 14r: Urbanus VI, the Antichrist ('Tu sei terribile, che fara resistentia a te');

fol. 14v: Bonifacius IX ('Lo occisione del figliolo de Balael seguirano');

fol. 15r: Martinus V ('La incisione hipocresi sera ne labominatione');

fol. 15v: Eugenius IV ('La occisione del figliol de Balael seguirano');

fol. 16r: view of a city ('Sangue');

fol. 16v: a pope with a fox and flagstaffs ('Con bona gratia cessara la Symonia');

fol. 17r: view of a city ('La potestate sera unitate');

fol. 17v: the naked pope ('La bona oratione altramente operatione Thesauro a li poueri sera erogato');

fol. 18r: a pope as a pastor ('Bona intentione');

fol. 18v: a pope being crowned by an angel ('Pro honoratione');

fol. 19r: a pope enthroned and surrounded by angels ('Occisione bona');

fol. 19v: a pope with Nabuchodonosor as a monstrous creature ('Reuerentia').

An interesting manuscript on grey-blue paper containing the earliest translation in Italian vernacular – made by the Dominican Leandro Alberti – of the Vaticinia pontificum, the mystical prophecies traditionally attributed to the Calabrian abbot Joachim of Fiore (ca. 1132-1202). The Vaticinia may have had Byzantine origins, but by the late thirteenth century the prophecies were being disseminated by Joachimite disciples and were associated with his authorship. It is the most important apocalyptic work of the Middle Ages, and the manuscript was widely circulated.

The text of the Vaticinia pontificum was produced in two stages. The older set consists of fifteen prophecies, substantially Latin translations of the Greek Oracles composed by Leo the Wise which had been in circulation since about the time of Pope Benedict XI's death in 1304. In the second half of the fourteenth century, another fifteen similar prophecies were produced. From the early fifteenth century onward these two series, along with their related images, commonly circulated together, the more recent series generally placed before the older one to keep the future predictions further from the present. Each prophecy follows a canonized scheme composed of four elements: an emblematic image of a pope, his name before and after becoming pope, a mystical prophecy, and a motto.

In 1515 the Bolognese Dominican Leandro Alberti (1479-1552) – the well-known author of the popular Descrittione di tutta Italia (see no. 110), which was first published in 1550 – was responsible for one of the earliest printed edition of the Vaticinia pontificum.

Alberti's edition appeared in print in Bologna in July 1515 under the title Ioachimi abbatis Vaticinia circa apostolicos viros et Ecclesiam Romanam, and is his first published work. The booklet was issued from the press of Girolamo Benedetti simultaneously with the Italian vernacular edition of the text (Prophetia dello abbate Ioachino circa li Pontifici et R.C). Both editions had obtained the imprimatur from the Inquisition, despite the nature and content of the prophecies bordering on the fringes of heresy and the occult. The Bolognese edition of the Prophetia dello abbate Ioachino is illustrated with thirty woodcuts which only partially follow the traditional illustrative apparatus found in the manuscript tradition of the Vaticinia as they are lacking the names of the popes depicted in the emblematic images. A second edition of Leandro's translation was published in Venice in 1527 by an anonymous printer employing a different set of woodblocks, including two additional illustrations not belonging to the traditional Vaticinia series.

The present manuscript closely follows the Venetian edition of 1527, containing – like its printer counterpart (we have referenced the copy in the British Library, 730/1609) – thirty-two illustrations in the form of chiaroscuro wash drawings, including the two additional images, along with the identical elaborate cartouche on the title leaf. The first illustration is here painted on the verso of the first leaf and shows a friar at a desk – evidently Joachim of Fiore – preaching to his confreres. The second illustration depicts an unidentified monk with a halo giving a book entitled Vitae Patrum to four monks on his right, as well as an untitled book to four nuns on his left (in contrast, in the Venetian Prophetia both books are entitled Vitae Patrum). The subsequent thirty illustrations belong to the traditional Vaticinia series, but – as in the aforementioned printed editions – the scheme is composed of only three elements: an image of a pope at the centre of the page, a motto at the top, and the mystical prophecy below. In this manuscript, however, the sequence of emblematic illustrations does not always follow that found in the Venetian publication. The mottos and the mystical prophecies accompanying each illustration are substantially identical to those included in the publication of 1527, with a few minor orthographical variants.

The manuscript also includes the dedicatory letter from Leandro Alberti to Giulio de' Medici, the future Pope Clemens VII and, at that time, Apostolic Legate in Bologna (fols. 2r-v), followed by the Vita de Ioachino Abbate de S. Flore, composed likewise by Alberti (fols. 3r-v), and the short address in verse on fol. 4r 'Sopra le Prophetie de lo Abbate Ioachino al Lectore' by Filippo Fasanini (d. 1531), to whom the translation into Italian has been also attributed.

Both printed editions of 1515 of 1527 are of the greatest rarity, and extant copies can be counted on one hand. The Bolognese as well as the Venetian Prophetia dello abbate Ioachino were apparently printed in a limited number of copies, a feature which might explain the enduring manuscript circulation of this prophetical work during the age of printing.

H. Grundman, “Die Papstprophetien des Mittelalters”, Archiv für Kulturgeschichte, 19 (1929), pp. 77-138; M. Reeves, The Influence of Prophecy in the Later Middle Ages. A Study in Joachimism, Oxford 1969; D. L. Drysdall, “Filippo Fasanini and his 'Explanation of Sacred Writing', The Journal of Medieval and Renaissance studies, 13 (1983), pp. 127-155; A. Prosperi, “Intorno a un catechismo figurato del tardo '500”, E. Ullmann (ed.), Von der Macht der Bilder. Beiträge des CIHA- Kolloquiums “Kunst und Reformation”, Leipzig 1983, pp. 99-114; O. Niccoli, “Prophetie di musaico. Figure e scritture gioachimite nella Venezia del Cinquecento”, A. Rotondò (ed.), Forme e destinazione del messaggio religioso: aspetti della propaganda religiosa nel Cinquecento, Firenze 1991, pp. 197-227; H. Millet, Il libro delle immagini dei papi. Storia di un testo profetico medievale, Roma 2002; F. Troncarelli (ed.), Il ricordo del futuro. Giacchino da Fiore e il Gioachimismo attraverso la storia, Bari 2006; A. Damanti, “Bononia docet: Leandro Alberti e l'ambiente umanistico a Bologna. Con qualche nota sulle edizioni albertiane dei Vaticinia Summi Pontificis”, M. Donattini (ed.), L'Italia dell'Inquisitore. Storia e geografia dell'Italia del Cinquecento nella Descrittione di Leandro Alberti, Bologna 2007, pp. 97-116; J.-B. Lebigue, H. Millet et. al. (eds.), Vaticinia Pontificum (ms. A.2448, Biblioteca Comunale dell'Archiginnasio, Bolonia). Libro de estudios, Madrid 2008; R. Rusconi, Santo Padre. La santità del papa da san Pietro a Giovanni Paolo I, Roma 2010; A. Prosperi, “Vaticinia Pontificum. Peregrinazioni cinquecentesche di un testo celebre”. M. Donattini (ed.), Tra Rinascimento e Controriforma: Continuità di una ricerca. Atti della giornata di studi per Albano Biondi, Verona 2012, pp. 77-111; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 177.

The Renaissance fortune-telling book goes baroque

16. [Stefano della Bella, after]. Spirito, Lorenzo (ca. 1425-1496)

Libro della Ventura. Manuscript drawn and calligraphed in brown ink, in Italian. Italy (possibly Florence?) ca. 1650.

295x284 mm. I + 48 + I leaves. Complete. Six quires. Collation: 110, 26-1, 36, 44, 510, 616-3. Beautiful allegorical title leaf, surrounded by a cornucopia in the form of a garland, with richly festooned garlands draped over the upper portion of the frame. On the verso of the title leaf, introductory text held by three putti and a bust labelled 'Lorenzo In', an homage to the inventor of the game (the bust reappears at a slightly different angle bearing the full 'Lorenzo Inventi' on fol. 22r). The following leaves are finely illustrated with full-page and double-page ink drawings within elaborate frames, depicting – according the widespread iconography of fortune-telling books – kings, wheels of fortune, and prophets (see below). Calligraphic text in a single hand, drawings most likely in two. Each leaf has been 'tabbed' and labelled in the outer right margin to facilitate game playing. Seventeenth-century calf, over pasteboards. Covers within gilt frieze, spine divided into seven compartments by gilt fillets. Later endleaves, the original flyleaves preserved, bearing some essays with a compass. Manuscript in good condition, three leaves (including the title leaf) extended to fit the size of the volume, several others with repairs to the lower and outer margin, occasionally affecting the drawings and/or labels.


The manuscript contains:

-ten full-page drawings of busts of kings placed upon pedestals and within decorative rectangular frames; twenty full-page tables of dice bearing at the centre a small drawing showing each figure of the game (real or imaginary animals, zodiac signs, emblems, etc.);

-twenty full-page drawings of wheels of fortune, again with each figure placed at the centre, set before largely pastoral landscapes. Under each wheel is a vignette with scenes of travellers, putti, castles, etc.; twenty double-page spreads dedicated to the prophets, featuring the prophet's portrait on the first page set within a garland, extensive calligraphic text in terzine that carries through both pages, and a highly inventive 'carpet' drawing at the bottom of the second page.

All drawings included here are within elaborate ornamental frames, surmounted by banderoles that identify the passage or figure depicted below.

Provenance: ownership inscription inked out, and almost illegible, on the front flyleaf, 'Venne alla [...] di detto libro in Venezia dal Signor G[...] D[...] go'.

A very refined seventeenth-century manuscript containing the Libro della Ventura by Lorenzo Spirito, first printed in Bologna in 1482 – one of the most popular printed fortune-telling books of the Renaissance and here profusely embellished with high-quality ink drawings that beautifully exemplify the organic ornamentality of the Baroque.

The manuscript text is copied from the printed edition nearly verbatim, as are the major figures and motifs (kings and fortune wheels, for example) thus allowing for standard game play. However, the illustrations themselves are far more embellished and in the manner of the prominent Italian draughtsman and printmaker Stefano della Bella (1610-1664). A prolific artist, della Bella was particularly well known for the vastness of his subject matter which ranged from wittily inventive ornamental plates, frontispieces, and illustrations for theatre productions, to present-day and historically bent scenes of the military arts and the royal court, to metaphoric representations of skeletons during the plague and a plethora of capricci. Indeed, so varied was della Bella's work that he was even commissioned to produce four sets of educational playing cards for the young Louis XIV covering history, mythology, and geography.

The breadth of figures, motifs, scenes, and ornament that permeate the pages of the manuscript presented here is equally impressive, particularly given the overall coherency and unity of form established throughout. This careful balance also points up an important feature of della Bella's style: in his youth, the Florentine artist had been an ardent follower of the technically exquisite Jacques Callot (ca. 1592–1635), but his stay in Paris between 1639 and 1650 witnessed the development of his own unique style suffuse with supple, lyrical lines and almost mannerist figuration. The artist was also keen to work en plein air as much as possible, imbuing his rhythmical forms with a marked sense of spontaneity that is certainly to the fore in the present illustrations. In more particular details, too, the master's style is everywhere evident; thematically, for example, in the small, elaborately costumed figures in fancy headdresses that recall his interest in Rembrandt, or in the array of animals that enliven the page as they scamper across imaginative landscapes (in fact, della Bella was undertaking a series of etched animal portraits right around the date we propose our manuscript was produced, and certain animals, such as the deer and eagles, demonstrate remarkable similarity to those included in his series). Formally, too, the remarkable sense of luminosity and texture evident in the hair, feathers, grass, leaves, and sky – achieved through sure, painterly yet delicate strokes economically and efficiently employed to let the white ground come through – is practically signature della Bella. A further point to the level of creativity demonstrated in this manuscript: the 'carpet' drawings mentioned above bear no evident relation to the illustrations in any printed edition of the book.

The visual coherency of this manuscript is strengthened still by the unity of 'disegno' between the drawings and the three columns of calligraphic text, such that one may infer that artist(s) and calligrapher worked in close collaboration. This is nowhere more evident than in the magnificent title leaf or the drawing on the following verso. The opening leaf gives the title in Roman capitals, beneath which are some introductory verses, not present in the received text. The text proper begins on the verso of the same leaf ('Qui comincia il libro'), and is neatly disposed on a curtain, a common feature of Baroque, held at the top by three putti.

While there were at least twelve Italian editions of Spirito's text – all now exceptionally rare (see no. 42) – the source for the present manuscript remains unknown. Comparison with the printed editions nonetheless suggests the basic trajectory: schematic woodcut figures (with frequent re-uses of the same block) are replaced by the individuation of figures, often with orientalizing, 'a l'antica', or historicizing detail, and by fine modeling and minute cross-hatching. Artistically, the 'carpet' drawings, which occupy a quarter to half of the lower margin, are among the most inventive in the album. Subjects include capricci, pastoral scenes of animals, seascapes, landscapes, fortified cities, and putti at play. A few are emblematic: one in which three putti seem to be playing a game involving a certain number of coins hidden under a hat (fol. 29r), with one of the three (the loser?) in tears; or another in which a small putto appears to be suckling an antlered deer (fol. 32r).

We suggest the motive for the present manuscript was the production of a luxury object, probably for presentation, rather than simply a 'copy' of an increasingly rare printed text. The carefully cut tabs in the right margins make it clear that it was to be played as a game, and minor defects suggest other signs of use. The drawings were clearly made on individual sheets and then bound; although the paper stock is uniform, the sizes of the individual leaves are not, hence some irregularity in the fore-edges, a few of which are gauffered.

The manuscript ends with what, in retrospect, seems a joke: in a later hand is written a colophon imitating that of a printed book and stating that the text was written and personally copied by Lorenzo Spirito and illustrated by his countryman Paolo Veronese (1528-1588), followed by a date which is sheer nonsense.

A. de Vesme - P. D. Massar, Stefano della Bella. Catalogue raisonné, Milano 1906 (New York 1971); T. De Marinis, “Le illustrazioni per il Libro de le Sorte di Lorenzo Spirito”, Idem, Appunti e ricerche bibliografiche, Milano 1940, pp. 67-83; A. Blunt, The Drawings of G.B. Castiglione and Stefano della Bella in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen at Windsor Castle, London 1954; P. D. Massar, Presenting Stefano della Bella, Seventeenth-Century Printmaker, Greenwich, CT 1971; L. Hartmann, “Capriccio”. Bild und Begriff, Nürnberg 1973; C. Limentani Virdis, Disegni di Stefano della Bella, Sassari 1975; M. Catelli Isola (ed.), Disegni di Stefano della Bella 1610-1664. Dalle collezioni del Gabinetto Nazionale delle Stampe, Roma, Villa della Farnesina alla Lungara, 4 febbraio – 30 aprile 1976 (exhibition catalogue), Roma 1976; Le carte da gioco di Stefano della Bella (1610-1664), Firenze 1977; T. Ortolani (ed.), Stefano della Bella. Aggiornamento al “Catalogue raisonné” di A. de Vesme e Ph. D. Massar, 1996; L. Nadin, Carte da gioco e letteratura fra Quattro e Ottocento, Lucca 1997; D. Klemm, Stefano della Bella (1610-1664). Zeichnungen aus dem Kupferstichkabinett der Hamburger Kunsthalle, Köln-Weimar-Wien 2009; D. Klemm (ed.), Von der Schönheit der Linie. Stefano della Bella als Zeichner. Hamburger Kunsthalle 25. Oktober 2013 bis 26. Januar 2014, Petersberg 2013; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 202.

Navigating Venetian painting

17. Boschini, Marco (1613-1678)

La carta del nauegar pitoresco dialogo tra un Senator venetian deletante, e un professor de Pitura, soto nome d’Ecelenza, e de Compare. Compartì in oto venti Con i quali la Naue venetiana vien conduta in l’alto Mar dela Pitura, come assoluta dominante de quelo a confusion de chi non intende el bossolo dela calamita.... Francesco Baba, 1660.

4° (203x150 mm). Collation: [π]4, a-b4, A-Z4, Aa-Zz4, Aaa-Zzz4, Aaaa-Qqqq4, Rrrr6. [24], 680 [i.e. 682; pages 638-639 repeated in numbering], [10] pages. Roman and italic type. Allegorical frontispiece, and author's portrait, after a drawing by Pietro Bellotto; twenty-five full-page illustrations, all engraved by Boschini. Contemporary vellum, over pasteboards. Covers within outer border of double fillet in gold, gilt cornerpieces; at the centre fleuron. Smooth spine decorated in gold, title gilt-lettered and repeated in ink. Traces of ties, edges gilt and gauffered. A beautiful copy. Small hole in the last three leaves, slightly affecting the text, some insignificant stains on a few leaves.

Rare first edition, in its magnificent contemporary binding, of this poem in Venetian dialect, divided into the eight parts of a wind compass (called Venti i.e, winds), and leading the reader through the sea of the Venetian painting.

The Venetian Boschini was a contemporary of Palma il Giovane and Odoardo Fialetti. He primarily painted works copied from major artists and produced a vast number of drawings and engravings, especially in order to illustrate his own printed books. He was the artistic consultant of many major collectors of the time, and also acted as an artistic guide for important visitors and foreign artists.

The work is dedicated to the Archduke Leopold Wilhelm of Austria, and is written in the form of a dialogue between a Venetian senator – probably Giovanni Nani – and an expert painter, i.e., the author himself. The two interlocutors walk through the Venetian calli, and the 'Professor de Pitura' explains to the senator, with great competence, the style of each artwork they see on their way, all the while demonstrating the superiority of Venetian painting over its Florentine counterpart, while also comparing painting to the art of music and poetry. The 'Professor' even recalls olfactory and food suggestions in a style that is Baroque and redundant, yet simultaneously brilliant and witty. The first chapter includes a general introduction to the main painters of the seventeenth century, including, among others, Velázquez and Rubens. In the subsequent chapters Boschini guides his companion and the reader through Venetian art, starting with the San Rocco School painted by Tintoretto. Of particular interest is the detailed information concerning the private collections of the time, including that amassed by Cardinal Leopoldo de' Medici, who was one of Boschini's primary 'customers'. The final chapter contains a modern gallery of painters; rather than a traditional portrait, each artist is represented here by a significant painting which has been reproduced. The text is supplemented with notes by the 'Academico Delfico', i.e., Dario Varotari.

Michel I, p. 197; Cicogna 4672; Cicognara 976; Gamba, Serie degli scritti impressi in dialetto veneziano, p. 137; Libreria Vinciana 3066; J. Schlosser Magnino, La letteratura artistica, Firenze 1967, pp. 547-548, 561; M. F. Merling, Marco Boschini's “La carta del navegar pitoresco”. Art Theory and Virtuoso Culture in Seventeenth-Century Venice, Ph.D. Diss., Brown University, 1992; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 207.

The ‘third’ sketchbook by Giuseppe Santini

18. Santini, Giuseppe (d. ca. 1717)

Libbro di Figure diuerse fatte nel 1663. in Liuorno. Libbro terso. Giuseppe Manuscript "sketchbook" on paper [1663].

Folio (398x270 mm). Twenty-six leaves, including the title-page, numbered 1-28 (leaves 8 and 9 are missing). Title-page within an elaborate burnt-sienna border. Six full-page drawings in burnt sienna numbered 2-7 (the first three are pasted), eight full-page drawings in pencil numbered 10-17, eight full-page drawings in burnt sienna, on same-color background, numbered 18-25, three full-page drawings in pencil, on light blue background, numbered 26-28. Most of the drawings bear the monogram 'gsf.' ('Giuseppe Santini fecit') and are surrounded by a double-fillet border. Contemporary vellum, over pasteboards. Inked title on spine. Red edges. Some minor staining and fingermarks, somewhat loose.

A fine album of drawings, mostly executed in burnt sienna by Giuseppe Santini. Born in Pisa to a family originally from Barga, near Lucca. He was a pupil of the sculptor and engineer to the Duke of Tuscany, Ferdinando Tacca, with whom he collaborated in 1661 on the staging of Ercole in Tebe, a drama performed in Florence on the occasion of Cosimo III's marriage to Marguerite Louise d'Orléans. From 1670 onwards he worked in Pisa as an engineer with the rank of captain and was put in charge of ditches and canalization works in the cultivated fields. In the following years, he supervised the construction of bridges, embankments, roads, and ramparts, and was responsible for the restoration of palaces, castles, churches and the Medici armory in Pisa. He also drew several topographical maps of the territories of Pistoia, Pisa, and Livorno; his surviving maps are extremely accurate and show his great ability both as a geographer and as a draftsman.

In addition to these primary endeavours, Santini was a skilled artist and collector of drawings, and during his site inspections on the countryside and in town he would always have with him a sketchbook and a pencil; indeed, most of his subjects are taken from life during his trips on horseback.

The album offered here contains mainly studies of naked male bodies, but also cherubs, a king, a saint or prophet, a female figure and a group with Muses and laureate poets. Santini's skillful hand shows the influence, alongside Volterrano, who drew similar subjects, of such artists as Giulio Parigi, Remigio Cantagallina, Ercole Bazzicaluva, Valerio Spada, and Jacques Callot.

Apparently Santini used to gather his own drawings in numbered books. The Fondazione Longhi collection had an album of drawings produced by Santini himself, called Libbro di diversi disegni per principianti fatto l'anno 1663 in Firenze Libbro decimo sesto, which was disassembled and sold in 1982. The album was composed of fifty-four sheets depicting landscapes; single figures of hunters, peasants, and armored knights; and anatomical studies of hands, feet, and heads.

The Uffizi likewise owns a surviving title-page by Santini and four of his drawings with subjects relating to Florence, all from another one of his albums, Disegni e capricci diversi copiati dal natural in diversi luoghi Libro Nono. The present album is – as the title states – the Libbro Terso, i.e., the third Book, and therefore represents an early moment in his artistic activity as well as an important finding in the history of Tuscan drawing at the second half of the seventeenth century.

M. Privitera, “Il capitano e ingegnere Giuseppe Santini, collezionista di disegni e disegnatore”, Paragone. Arte, 60 (2009), pp. 103-111; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 211.

On one of the most famous Egyptian artifacts

19. Pignoria, Lorenzo (1571-1631)

Mensa Isiaca, qua sacrorum apud Aegyptios ratio & simulacra subjectis tabulis aeneis simul exhibentur & explicantur. Accessit ejusdem authoris de Magna Deum matre discursus, & sigillorum, gemmarum, amuletorum aliquot figurae & earundem ex Kirchero Chisletioque interpretatio. Nec non Jacobi Philippi Tomasini Manus Aenea, & de vita rebusque Pignorij dissertatio. Andreas Fries, 1669.

Two parts in one volume, 4° (238x187 mm). Collation: *4, **1, A-N4, O2; [π]4, [a]-[n]4. [10], 96, [12]; [8], 96 [i.e. 94] pages. Roman and italic type. Extra engraved title-page, executed by A. Blothelingh (included in the foliation). Eleven engraved folding plates. Three engraved title-vignettes, nine full-page illustrations, and additional vignettes and other illustrations in the text. Contemporary vellum. Spine gilt tooled, title in gold on lettering-piece. Front hinge slightly opened. A very good copy.

Provenance: J. H. Harrison (ex-libris on the front pastedown).

Third and best edition of the Mensa Isiaca by the Paduan antiquarian Pignoria, the first scholarly work on Egyptology, which first appeared in Venice in 1605, under the title Vetustissimae tabulae aeneae sacris Aegyptiorum.

The 'Mensa Isiaca' or the table of Isis was an elaborate bronze table with enamel and silver inlay discovered in the ruins of the Temple of Isis after the Sack of Rome in 1527; it may have been executed – as Pignoria himself suggests – in Rome in the first century AD.

The table was then bought by Cardinal Pietro Bembo (it is also known as the 'Bembine Table'); after his death in 1547 the table was acquired by the Gonzagas, remaining in their collections until the capture of Mantua in 1630. The table of Isis eventually came into the hands of Cardinal Pava, who gave it to the Duke of Savoy, who then presented it to the King of Sardinia. In 1797 the tablet was carried in Paris by French troops, and in 1809 – as Alexandre Lenoir attests – it was exhibited in the Bibliothèque Nationale. Later, it returned to Turin, and is now held at the Egyptian Museum of this city.

In the seventeenth century the table of Isis became one of the most famous Egyptian artifacts known: it was used by the Jesuit Athanasius Kircher as a primary source for deciphering hieroglyphs, and an illustration showing the table was included in his Oedypus Aegyptiacus (1652/55).

The effective function of the 'Mensa Isiaca' is still subject to debate, although Pignoria's explanation was the simplest and most convincing: he believed it was a representation of sacrificial ceremonies according to Egyptian rites.

The 1669 edition is supplemented with numerous illustrations in the text which had been executed e Musaeo Bembi in 1559 by the Parma engraver Aeneas Vico (1523-1567).

Blackmer 1312; Gay 1567; Ibrahim-Hilmy II, 119; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 213.

Sir Joshua Reynolds' copy

20. Malvasia, Carlo Cesare (1616-1693)

Felsina Pittrice. Vite de pittori bolognesi alla Maestà Christianissima di Luigi XIIII Re di Francia e di Nauarra il Sempre Vittorioso consagrata... Diuisa in duoi tomi; con indici in fine copiosissimi. Tomo primo [-secondo]. Domenico Barbieri's Heir for Giovanni Francesco Davico, 1678.

Two parts in one volume, 4° (239x168 mm). Collation: [a]-b4, A-Z4, Aa-Zz4, Aaa-Zzz4, Aaaa-Cccc4, Dddd4; [π]2, A-Z4, Aa-Zz4, Aaa-Zzz4, Aaaa-Gggg4. [16], 581, 1 of [3]; [4], 606, [2] pages. Lacking in the first part fol. Dddd4 blank. In this copy fols. b1-b2 are bound after fols. b3-b4. Issue C (no priority) with 'incudi' instead of 'incudini' on fol. B3r, in the first part. Roman and italic type. Woodcut printer's device on fol. Ee4v of the first part. Forty-three woodcut portraits in the manner of Vasari; eight empty portrait frames, fifteen small illustrations of paintings by the Carraccis, four other full-page woodcuts. Woodcut decorated initials. Contemporary blind-tooled vellum, over pasteboards. Covers within fillet borders, in the centre four fleurs-de-lis and a large lozenge-shaped tool. Spine with five raised bands, inked title and imprint. A single ink stain to the lower cover. A very good copy, slight waterstaining at the lower margin of the central and last quires.

Provenance: the famous English artist Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792).

Sir Joshua Reynold's personal copy of the first edition of this famous work, presented here in the early issue with the name of the edition's financial backer, Giovanni Francesco Davico, on the title-page, and the famous insult towards Raphael, called 'Boccalaio Urbinate' (fol. Nnn4r, line 14), which was subsequently corrected to 'gran Raffaele'.

Carlo Cesare Malvasia was a pupil of the painters Giacinto Campana and Giacomo Cavedone, and is considered the most important historian of the Bolognese school of painting. His Felsina Pittrice deals with the life and works of celebrated Bolognese artists, and the sections dedicated to Guido Reni, Agostino Mitelli, and the Procaccinis are especially noteworthy. A third volume of additions, edited by Luigi Crespi, was published in Rome in 1769.

The present copy comes from the library of Sir Joshua Reynolds, one of the most influential English painters and theorists of his time, who specialised in portraiture. He was the first president of the Royal Academy of Arts, and was knighted by George III in 1769. Reynolds was deeply influenced by Italian painters and Italian art theorists. “Among the Italian art literature that Reynolds studied particularly intensively was Carlo Cesare Malvasia's Felsina Pittrice (1678) and his Pitture di Bologna (1686).

This explains, to an extent, the importance Reynolds attached to Bolognese paintings in his Discourses.

Whereas we can only presume that Reynolds possessed a copy of the Felsina Pittrice because he directly quoted from it in his Discourses, Pitture di Bologna” (I. Wenderholm, “The President as a Reader: Reynolds and Books”, p. 214). We can now prove it was this very copy that was in his possession.

Libreria Vinciana 4381; J. Schlosser Magnino, La letteratura artistica, Firenze 1967, pp. 529 and 579; I. Wenderholm “The President as a Reader: Reynolds and Books”, H. Damm, M. Thimann, C. Zittel (eds.), The Artist as Reader: On Education and Non-Education of Early Modern Artists, Leiden 2013, pp. 195-217; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 216.

The Roman Gardens of the Baroque

21. Falda, Giovan Battista (1643-1678)

I Giardini di Roma. Con le loro Piante Alzate e Vedute in Prospettiva.... Giovanni Giacomo De Rossi, [ca. 1680].

Oblong folio (342x471 mm). [21] engraved plates, including the title-page and dedication to Pope Innocent XI, engraved by Arnold Van Westerhout after Giovanni Battista Manelli, and nineteen landscape views by G. B. Falda and Simon Felice. Late nineteenth-century half-vellum, marbled covers. Marbled edges. A very good copy, a few marginal stains.

First edition – offered here in its first issue with the plates unnumbered – of the most beautiful garden book produced in the Roman Baroque. Falda's work illustrates the layout and embellishment of nine of the finest gardens of Rome dating from the mid-sixteenth to the mid-seventeenth century. The publication includes bird's-eye views and plans of the Vatican Gardens, those on Quirinal Hill, and, among others, the Villas Mattei, Pamphili, Borghese, Ludovisi, and Montalto. The gardens were designed by Alessandro Algardi, Carlo Maderno, Ottavio Mascarini, Annibali Lippi, Cavalier Rainaldi, Domenico Fontana, Flaminio Pontico, and Giacomo Del Duca. The book is of particular importance as it shows the gardens before they were destroyed or underwent extensive alterations.

As a boy, Falda was sent to Rome to work in the studio of Gian Lorenzo Bernini. His skills attracted the attention of the publisher Giovanni Giacomo De Rossi, for whom Falda engraved the series Le fontane di Roma ('Fountains of Rome'), Palazzi di Roma ('Palaces of Rome'), and the present Giardini. His work became very popular among participants of the Grand Tour and tourists in the second half the seventeenth century and sold very well.

Berlin Katalog 3492; Kissner 133; Libreria Vinciana 4440; Rossetti 4831; G. B. Falda, Li giardini di Roma. Faksimile-Neudruck der Ausgabe Rom 1683, Nordlingen 1994; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 217.

The new multipoint perspective scenery

22. David, Domenico (d. 1698)

La forza della virtu drama per musica da rappresentarsi nel Teatro Malvezzi l’anno m.dc.xciv... Dedicato all’Eminentissimo, e Reverendissimo Sig. Cardinale Marcello Durazzo Legato di Bologna.... Antonio Pisarri's heirs, 1694.

4° (199x137 mm). Collation: A8, B-H4, I6. 82 pages, lacking the last blank leaf. Roman and italic type. Twelve folding etchings, engraved by Carlo Antonio Buffagnotti after Marco Antonio Chiarini; each plate signed by artist and engraver, and with caption titles. Rebound in cardboards covered with a beautiful eighteenth-century gilt-blocked floral paper. Marbled edges. A good copy, some foxing and staining. Title-page slightly soiled, pale waterstain to the title-page and second leaf, small repaired tear to fol. B1, without any loss. Other repaired tears on some folding plates with no damage. B1, without any loss. Other repaired tears on some folding plates with no damage.

The rare first illustrated edition of this opera libretto in three acts, published on the occasion of its presentation at Bologna's Teatro Malvezzi. The librettist is Domenico David, while the music was composed by Giacomo Antonio Perti (1661-1756), whose name is not mentioned in the work. The drama had already been performed the previous year, in 1693, in the Teatro San Giovanni Crisostomo in Venice with music by Carlo Francesco Pollaroli. On that occasion the libretto had been printed in Venice by Nicolini, in an unillustrated edition in 12° format. These editions testify to the success of the opera, which deeply influenced Metastasio's libretto for the Siface (Naples 1723).

The 1694 Bolognese edition is enriched with twelve splendid plates illustrating the different stage scenes, engraved by the printmaker, painter, and accomplished cellist Carlo Antonio Buffagnotti (1660-ca. 1715) after drawings executed by the renowned Bolognese architect Marcantonio Chiarini (ca. 1652-1730), who trained with Francesco Quaino and Domenico Santi. Active in Bologna and Milan, Chiarini was a quadratura specialist and painted scenography for several plays. The plates included in La forza della virtu attest to his use of the scena per angolo, or multipoint perspective, a significant innovation in seventeenth-century stage design which is generally attributed to Francesco Bibiena, but was in all likelihood used here for the first time. “Until this time, all perspective scenery had a single vanishing point – for a spectator seated in an ideal position, the scenery seemed to disappear at a single point in the distance [...] Multipoint perspective, as the name implies, could have several vanishing points. The effect [...] was to free the stage from the auditorium. The scene behind the proscenium no longer had to conform to the scale of the spectator, it could be larger than life. There was no need for symmetry: a scene could be shown from any point of view” (The Cambridge Guide to Theatre, Cambridge 2000, p. 1093).

Frati, 8208; Gaspari V, 396; Gregory-Sonneck, p. 526; Grove Dictionary of Opera I, p. 1086; Sartori, Libretti italiani a stampa, 10875; Schatz 7948; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 218.

Ex dono Auctoris

23. Meyer, Cornelius (1629-1701)

Nuovi ritrovamenti divisi in due parti con trè Tavole in lingua Latina, Francese, & Ollandese. Parte prima. Delli ordegni per cavar pali. Armature della calamita. Del modo di levare i sassi sott’acqua, e trovar la lega dell’oro, e dell’argento... Rome, Giovanni Giacomo Komarek, 1696. (bound with:) Idem. Alla Santità di N.S. Papa Innocentio XI. Beatissimo Padre. [Rome, Giacomo Antonio de Lazzeri Varese, 1679]. (bound with:) Idem. Nuovi ritrovamenti dati in luce dall’Ingegneiro [sic] Cornelio Meyer per eccitare l’ingegno de’ virtuosi ad aumentarli, ò aggiungervi maggior perfettione... Rome, Giovanni Giacomo Komarek, 1689. (together with:) Idem. L’Arte di restituire à Roma la tralasciata Navigatione del suo Tevere. Divisa in tre parti.... Giacomo Antonio de Lazzari Varese, 1685.

Two volumes containing four works, in near uniform bindings.

First volume. Three works bound together, folio (411x261 mm). I. [28] unsigned leaves, including title-page with a large engraved vignette showing a dragon with the caption 'Drago come viveva il primo di Decembre 1691 nelle paludi fuori di Roma'; dedication to the Grand Duke of Tuscany Cosimo III dated Rome, 22 June 1696; 22 leaves consisting of plates with letter-press explanatory text, all of them half-page (except two full-page and three double-page); 4 leaves of indices in Latin, French, and Dutch. Roman and italic type. II. Collation: A14. [14] leaves. Issued without title-page, opening with dedicatory epistle to Innocent XI. Twelve numbered half-page engravings accompanied by explanatory text below, printed on recto only. Roman and italic type. The plates are partly dated between 1677 and 1679, engraved by Giovanni Battista Falda and Jacques Blondeau, after Meyer. III. Collation: [π]2-1, A-D2, 2D2, E2-1. [12] leaves. Roman and italic type. Typographical ornament on the title-page. Fifteen engravings in the text, two of which are double page. Most of the plates signed by Meyer as designer, and sometimes as both designer and engraver. The double-page astronomical engraving is signed by Ioannes Baptista Honoratus Polustinus.

Contemporary limp vellum. Extremities of the spine damaged. Fine, unsophisticated copy. Worm-tracks on the upper margin of several leaves not affecting the text, some leaves somewhat loose.

Second volume. Three parts, folio (401x265 mm). [92] leaves, 15, [1] pages. All leaves are unsigned, except for fols. [9-10] signed A-A2 and the final 8 leaves signed A-D2. The edition includes: two additional titles with dedication to Innocent XI and a large allegorical engraving present here in two states (one variant has the caption title 'Fluminis Fluctus Letificant Civitatem' written on a cartouche on top of the engraving, while the second version has 'D.O.M.' instead); a letter-press title with a woodcut ornament; sixty-eight engraved illustrations and maps (six double-page, one full-page and the rest half-page). The final 15 pages contain the relations of the Sacra Congregatio riparum Tyberis, and end with the colophon 'Romae, ex Typographia Rev. Cam. Apost., 1685'. The first illustration of part two, a double-page map showing the Delineatione del stagno di Maccarese, is captioned: 'In Roma, nella stamperia di Nicol'Angelo Tinassi, 1681'. The comet plate referred to in the list of plates is absent, in keeping with all other copies. At the bottom of the figura quarta in Part one are two contemporary ink drawings of technical structures. Roman and italic type. Woodcut head- and tailpieces.

Contemporary vellum, over thin boards. Spine with inked title, partly damaged and with a few losses. A genuine copy, with good margins. Some browning and foxing, double-page map of Delinatione del stagno di Maccarese heavily browned.

Provenance: I. Meyer's own inscription 'Ex dono Auctoris' on the verso of the front flyleaf; on the front pastedown nineteenth-century armorial ex-libris of the Odescalchi family, bearing the motto 'per servire s'acquista servi quando poi', and engraved by Michelassi. II. Meyer's own inscription 'Ex dono Auctoris' on the verso of the front flyleaf.

Two-volume set containing four rare first editions by Cornelius Meyer (Cornelis Meijer), both volumes bearing the author's inscription 'Ex dono Auctoris'. Dedication copies of these already rare works are extremely hard to come by separately, and even more so bound together, and in copies complete with all their parts. This is the case of this set, in which the first volume also bears the ex-libris of the Odescalchi family, and it is especially noteworthy that Pope Innocent XI Odescalchi was the patron of Meyer as well as the dedicatee of the second edition bound in this volume.

I. The first work bound – Nuovi ritrovamenti divisi in due parti... Parte prima – though printed seven years later, in 1696, forms the first section of a two-part work, which gathers some of the author's technical inventions and scientific experiments. The second part, Nuovi ritrovamenti dati in luce, was issued first, in 1689, but both texts are clearly related insofar as the index to both parts is printed at the end of the Part one.

The plates show inventions and experiments undertaken by Meyer in Rome and other places like Livorno and Civitavecchia: among others, the large magnet of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, instruments and technical tools to raise cannons and poles from below the sea and to break stones underwater, methods for melting metals, canalization and other hydraulic works, a plan of the harbor of Livorno, fortification works, spectacles, games and curiosities including how to break a glass with a musical instrument, the eclipse of Jupiter's first satellite, a map of the mouth of Po river, chariots, the design of a room, the orbit of a comet, and fountains. One of the plates included here shows the Civitavecchia harbor, where the author recovered the hull of a sunken vessel.

The third work included in the first volume – the one bound in the middle – is the rarest of all three. It was issued without a title-page and opens with a dedication to Innocent XI Odescalchi. Meyer's name appears at the end of the dedication, while the imprint is at the bottom of the last two leaves. As stated in the notice to the reader, with this publication Meyer intended to show to the general public how he so brilliantly completed the first task assigned to him by Clement X upon his arrival in Rome.

Born in Amsterdam, Cornelius Meyer left his country in 1674 for Venice, then a popular destination for Dutch engineers seeking employment. He moved to Rome one year later. Pope Clement X put Meyer in charge of a major project aimed at protecting the Via Flaminia against the flooding of the Tiber. Meyer, whose plans were less expensive than those proposed by the project's former head engineer, Carlo Fontana, constructed a passonata, i.e., a row of piles, in the Tiber, which deflected the river's current away from the Via Flaminia.

II. First edition of Meyer's important work on the restoration of the Tiber River for navigation, L'arte di restituire a Roma la tralasciata navigatione del suo Tevere, which is considered his masterpiece, and is presented here in its second issue (the first issue is dated 1683 on the title-page).

After this first successful work on the Tiber, Clement X and his successor Innocent XI hired Meyer to improve navigation on the river with the purpose of increasing commerce. Meyer came up with revolutionary solutions to expedite travel along the river and in 1683, with the help of artist Gaspar van Wittel, he published his projects in L'arte di restituire a Roma la tralasciata navigatione del suo Tevere. The book, which is divided into three parts, was both a record of Meyer's engineering skills as well as a form of self-promotion for seeking further commissions. It includes a beautiful series of etchings by Meyer himself as well as by Giovanni Battista Falda, Gaspar van Wittel, Jacques Blondeau, Barend de Bailliu, Balthasar Denner, Gomar Wouters, Johannes Collin, and Ioannes Baptista Honoratus Polustinus. It was with his designs in L'arte di restituire that Meyer consolidated his reputation among the artistic and scientific elite of Rome.

Michel & Michel V, p. 161; Cicognara 3791-3792; Olschki 17589; Poggendorff II, 134; Rossetti 7022-7023c; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 219.

A defence of Raphael and Carracci, printed on blue paper

24. Victoria, Vicente (1658-1712)

Osseruazioni sopra il libro della Felsina pittrice per la difesa di Raffaello da Urbino, dei Caracci, e della loro scuola. Publicate, e diuise in sette lettere.... Gaetano Zenobi, 1703.

8° (198x129 mm). Printed on blue paper. 114, [2] pages. Complete with the last blank leaf. Large engraved vignette with the coat of arms of Pope Clement XI on the title-page, rendered by Victoria. Full-page engraving showing a hand sharpening a quill above a copy of Malvasia's Felsina pittrice, with the inscription in a cartouche 'VT SCRIBAT NON FERIAT', likewise after Victoria. Fine woodcut head- and tailpieces; numerous woodcut decorated initials. Contemporary vellum, over pasteboards. Smooth spine, title in gold on painted lettering-piece. Covers restored. A fine copy, a few minor stains to the title-page. Light foxing in places, some fingermarks.

Provenance: armorial ex-libris on the title-page, including six bees; below the inked letters 'B. D. M.'.

A handsome copy – printed on blue paper – of this work by the Spanish painter, printmaker, and canon Vicente Victoria y Gastaldo. Born in Valencia, Victoria was primarily active in Rome, and known under the Italianised name of Vittorio Vincente. A protégé of the Albani family, he was appointed, in 1703, as antiquarian to Pope Clement XI, whose coat of arms is engraved on the title-page of this edition, likewise printed in 1703. Victoria amassed a notable library and a large collection of classical antiquities.

He published the Osservazioni in defence of Raphael and Annibale Carracci, whose styles had been criticised as 'dry and lifeless' by Count Carlo Cesare Malvasia (1616-1693) in his Felsina Pittrice of 1678 (see no. 216), the biographical work on Bolognese painters, and one of the most relevant sources for the history of Italian painting. Victoria had perceived in Malvasia's treatise an anti-Roman bias: as is well known, in a few copies of the Felsina Pittrice Malvasia had referenced Raphael – in a passage related to the Vatican Stanze – as the boccalaio di Urbino, i.e., the 'potter from Urbino', an expression which was later changed to ‘the great Raphael' in the definitive issue.

The 1703 publication is famous for including a full-page engraving, executed after a drawing of Victoria himself, depicting a hand sharpening a quill close to a copy of Malvasia's treatise, and surmounted by the caption VT SCRIBAT NON FERIAT', i.e., 'May it write, not strike'.

This copy of Victoria's Osservazioni is printed on blue paper, indicating that this precious volume was gifted by its author to an as yet unidentified but evidently prominent figure.

E. Páez, Repertorio de Grabados Españoles, Madrid 1981; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 221.

The Magnificence of Venice

25. Graevius, Johann Georg (1632-1703)

Splendor Magnificentissimae Urbis Venetiarum Clarissimus; E Figuris elegantissimis, & accurata Descriptione emicans; In Duas Partes distributus.... Peter Van der Aa, 1722.

Two parts in one volume, folio (393x243 mm). [18], 242; [4], 247-324, 324a-324k, 362, 362a, 363, 363a, 364, 364a, 365, 365a, 366, 366a, 367, 367a, 368, 368a, 369-419, [1] pages. Title-pages printed in red and black, with engraved vignettes. One large folding bird's-eye view of Venice (475x1075 mm), one folding chart of the city (490x570 mm), and 115 double-page plates (395x440 mm), all engraved. Contemporary polished calf, covers within triple gilt fillet. Spine with six raised bands, richly gilt; title in gold on morocco lettering-piece. Marbled flyleaves. Edges marbled. Covers slightly worn and rubbed, front joint partly open. A fine, wide-margined copy, with a very good impression of the plates. Slightly uniformly browned.

First edition of this lavishly illustrated book, which was issued as part of the monumental publication Thesaurus antiquitatum et historiarum Italiae (it is part Secunda and Tertia of the fifth volume) and edited by the German scholar Johann Georg Graevius, a disciple of Daniel Heinsius in Leiden. From 1662 Graevius taught rhetoric, history, and politics at the University of Utrecht, and was well known for his editions of Latin classics as well as the great collection Thesaurus antiquitatum Romanarum.

The forty-five volume Thesaurus antiquitatum et historiarum Italiae was published posthumously by the Leiden printer Vander Aa between 1704 and 1725. Graevius was able to edit only the first six volumes; his pupil Pieter Burmann was responsible for the remaining thirty-nine.

The fine illustrative apparatus supplementing the present volume shows the monuments of Venice, as well as popular and religious festivals, regattas, ceremonies, processions, and parades. The engravings are mainly based on images by Vincenzo Coronelli and Luca Carlevarijs, while the texts are mostly taken from the work of Domenico Martinelli.

These views of Venice were re-issued by Peter Vander Aa in his La galerie agréable du monde (Leiden 1729), and again in 1762 by Cornelis Haak under the title Vües des palais.

Cassini, 69-70; Cicogna 4478; J. Martineau - A. Robinson (eds.), The Glory of Venice: Art in the Eighteenth Century, London 1994; P. G. Hoftijzer, Pieter van der Aa (1659-1733). Leids drukker en boekverkoper, Hilversum 1999; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 227.

A spectacular wide-margined and complete set of Canaletto etchings, in a contemporary binding together with a series by Marieschi

26. Canaletto, Antonio Canal called (1697-1768) - Marieschi, Michele (1710-1743)

Vedute Altre prese da i Luoghi altre ideate da Antonio Canal e da esso intagliate poste in prospetiva umiliate All’ Signor Giuseppe Smith Console di S.M. Britannica appresso la Repubblica di Venezia. In segno di stima ed ossequio. [Venice, Giambattista Pasquali, after June 1744]. (bound with:) Marieschi, Michele (1710-1743). Magnificentiores selectioresque Urbis Venetiarum prospectus, quos olim Michael Marieschi Venetus Pictor, et Architectus in plerisque tabulis depinxit. Nunc vero ab ipsomet acurate delineante, incidente, tijpisque mandante, iterum in sexdecim aeris tabulis in lucem aeduntur. Venice, at the author’s atelier, 1741.

Two works in one volume, large oblong folio (429x614mm). I. Thirty-one unnumbered etchings printed on eighteen leaves (for the different states see below). Bromberg nos. 1-11, 13-16, 18-33, as no. 12 is the undivided plate “Imaginary view of Venice”, known in only six impressions and later divided for unknown reasons by the artist into two plates (nos. 13 and 14), and as no. 17 is the small “Fragment of a Bishop's tomb” known only in one impression, at Windsor. Watermarks (both present on all sheets): three crescent moons with the letter 'A' (Bromberg, no. 22); stylized fleur-de-lis with the letters 'AS' (Bromberg, no. 43). II. Title-page bearing the portrait of the author drawn by Angelo Trevisani and etched by Carlo Orsolini, and twenty-one unnumbered views designed and etched by Marieschi, including the dedication to French nobleman Marc de Beauvau surmounted by a view of the Doge's Palace seen from the Canal Grande. Fine early impressions of the first state (of four) before numbering and with the plate of Campo San Rocco with its original baroque façade on the church. Watermarks (present alternatively): large crest with comet (star and flame), countermark: 'OLANDA'; comet (star and flame), countermark: initials 'FF' under coronet.

Contemporary Venetian vellum, over pasteboards. Covers within gilt floral frame. Spine in compartments decorated with gilt fleur-de-lis tool, title on red morocco lettering-piece. Marbled edges. Original flyleaves preserved bearing two watermarks: a bow and the initials 'AZc' (not mentioned in Bromberg). Corners slightly damaged, but very well preserved. A marvellous, wide-margined copy on thick paper, with very good impressions of the plates.

I. List of the thirty-one Canaletto etchings (ten in first state, eighteen in second, and three in third state, of variably 1, 2, 3 or 4 states):

1. Title plate “Vedute Altre prese da i Luoghi altre ideate...” (Bromberg 1, 2nd state of 2)

2. “La Torre di Malghera” (Bromberg 2, 2nd of 3)

3. “Mestre” (Bromberg 3, 1st of 2)

4. View of a Town on a River Bank (Bromberg 9, 1st of 2)

5. “Santa Giustina in Pra' della Valle” (Bromberg 7, 1st of 2)

6. “Prà della Valle” (Bromberg 8, 1st of 2)

7. “Alle Porte del Dolo” (Bromberg 5, 2nd of 3)

8. “Al Dolo” (Bromberg 4, 2nd of 3)

9. “Le Porte del Dolo” (Bromberg 6, 2nd of 3)

10. Imaginary View of Padua (Bromberg 11, 2nd of 3)

11. The Portico with the Lantern (Bromberg 10, 2nd of 3)

12. Imaginary View of Venice, two etchings on one leaf:
-The House with the Inscription (left half of undivided plate) (Bromberg 13, 1st of 1)
-The House with the Peristyle (right half of undivided plate) (Bromberg 14, 2nd of 2)

13. View of a Town with a Bishop's Tomb (Bromberg 16, 2nd of 2)

14. Four etchings on one leaf:
-“La Libreria” (Bromberg 18, 2nd of 3)
-“Le Procuratie” (Bromberg 25, 1st of 2)
-“La Piera del Bando” (Bromberg 19, 2nd of 3)
-“Le Preson” (Bromberg 21, 2nd of 3)

15. Four etchings on one leaf:
-The Terrace (Bromberg 24, 2nd of 3)
-The Market at Dolo (Bromberg 26, 3rd of 4)
-Imaginary View of S. Giacomo di Rialto (Bromberg 30, 1st of 2)
-The Market on the Molo (Bromberg 20, 3rd of 4)

16. Four etchings on one leaf:
-Landscape with the Pilgrim at Prayer (Bromberg 27, 3rd of 3)
-The Equestrian Monument (Bromberg 23, 1st of 1)
-Landscape with a Woman at a Well (Bromberg 29, 2nd of 3)
-Mountain Landscape with five Bridges (Bromberg 22, 2nd of 2)

17. Three etchings on one leaf:
-The Little Monument (Bromberg 33, 2nd of 2)
-The Bishop's Tomb (Bromberg 15, 1st of 1)
-The Wagon passing over a Bridge (Bromberg 32, 2nd of 2)

18. Two etchings on one leaf:
-Landscape with Ruined Monuments (Bromberg 31, 1st of 1)
-Landscape with Tower and two Ruined Pillars (Bromberg 28, 2nd of 2)

II. List of Marieschi etchings:

1. Title-page

2. “Prospectus Urbis Venetiarum”

3. “Foscarorum Aedes”

4. “Forum Maius et Basilica D. Marci”

5. “Templum S. Mariae Salutis”

6. “Forum olitorium”

7. “Forum maius D. Marci aliter Prospectum”

8. “Pisaurorum familiae Aedes ...”

9. “Pars Canalis Magni se extendens a laeva”

10. “Platea ac templum D.D. Ioannis et Paoli”

11. “Templum et platea F.F. Ord ...”

12. “Ingressus in Urbem venienti e Clodia”

13. “Platea D. Bassi et suum Templum”

14. “Canale ...”

15. “Forum Minus D. Marci ...”

16. “Pons Rivoalti”

17. “Magnificum Aedium Divalium”

18. “Prospectus Canalis magni ...”

19. “Magni Armamentari Venetiarum”

20. “Templum cum Platea S. Mariae Formosae”

21. “Forum Minus Divi Marci”

22. “Aedis Divi Rocchi”

An extraordinary set, including all of Canaletto's published etchings together with Marieschi's beautiful series of etched views, two of the most impressive eighteenth-century series of views of Venice and surrounding areas ever made.

The present volume represents both a stunning work of art and a remarkable historical artifact. Firstly, it is very rare to see such a 'holistic' and authentic presentation of Canaletto etchings – bound as a complete volume and housed in its original binding – become available on the market: it is far more typical to find made-up albums, with etchings amassed from various sources. Furthermore, the Canaletto set is bound with an impressive series by Marieschi, all fine early impressions in the first state (of four), and both sets feature wide, beautifully preserved margins. The sheet size is uniform across the volume; because the platemarks of the Marieschi series are wider than those of the Canaletto, this means that the Marieschi margins are wide, and the Canaletto margins are even wider – a truly remarkable feature for any Canaletto etching (which tend to have smaller, or even trimmed margins), let alone for a complete set!

As Bromberg observes, etching was extraordinarily well suited to Canaletto's painterly style, and the pains he bestowed on the plates is evident from his frequent use of re-biting. Whereas his paintings characteristically portrayed the grand buildings of Venice, in the etchings Canaletto expressed his love of the Venetian countryside with its humble buildings and poor inhabitants. Further, the Vedute reveal Canaletto's great inventiness, in continuous play between fantasy and reality, as some imaginary views of Venice (pl. 12, Bromberg 13 and 14), or 'invented' details such as the lantern (pl. 11, “The Portico with the Lantern” Bromberg 10) or the sign on the façade of a building (pl. 7, “Le Porte del Dolo”, Bromberg 6) attest.

The exact date of issue for Canaletto's series is unknown, but it appears most likely to have been between 1744 – the year in which Joseph Smith (ca. 1682-1770), the dedicatee of the series, was appointed British consul at Venice – and 1746, the year of Canaletto's departure from Venice to London. Only one etching, the “Imaginary View of Venice” (Bromberg no. 12 before the division of the plate, and then nos. 13-14 after the division) bears a date: 1741. Nevertheless, the production of the prints clearly extended over a period of several years, probably beginning around 1735, shortly after the publication of Visentini's series of engravings after Canaletto.

Joseph Smith was already an established collector, patron and art dealer before meeting and working with Canaletto around 1728, and had an active role supporting the leading publishing firm of Giambattista Pasquali (1702-1784). As such, it is no coincidence that Antonio Visentini's series of etchings, Prospectus Magni Canalis Venetiarum, all taken from Canaletto's paintings, was printed by Pasquali in 1735 (and, in a second enlarged edition, in 1742). It is probable that Canaletto began printmaking around this first publication in 1735, and that he may have even collaborated with Visentini to bring the latter's ambitious project to conclusion; the paper on which Canaletto's proof states were printed, seems to come from the same stock on which Visentini's series was published, i.e., from Pasquali's warehouse.

Canaletto started etching in a period when engraved views of Venice were becoming popular among tourists visiting Venice, as these buyers were attracted to their relative affordability compared to a painting of the same subject – and the ease with which they could be transported back over the Alps. Nevertheless, Smith probably commissioned the series from Canaletto without the intention of publishing and selling it to the same clientele who habitually purchased Canaletto's paintings. The publication of the etchings finally occurred only when Smith was appointed consul, in June 1744, as a tribute from Canaletto to his patron. The responsibility of printing was presumably given to Pasquali. Canaletto's total etched work consists of thirty-four plates, of which three are preserved as unique examples, and were excluded from the printed edition for unknown reasons. The etchings were published in both bound volumes, and were individually issued.

Differing plate sequences across bound volumes indicates that the decision regarding plate order was made by the printer, rather than the artist, and that the order of publication does not correspond to the order in which the etchings were created. A rough idea of order and date is nevertheless somewhat obtainable following the pioneering scholarship of Ruth Bromberg on Canaletto's printmaking. Through a comparative, qualitative study of different impressions, compiled albums, and the various watermarks of each sheet, one is able to establish an understanding regarding the dating and order of the artist's printed oeuvre.

In this copy, the order of the sheets containing more than one etching, corresponds to Bromberg's printing order D, which, as in the album she describes held at the Museo, Biblioteca, and Archivio of Bassano del Grappa, is associated with watermarks 22 and 43. The space (2-3 mm) between etchings nos. 13 and 14, which previously formed the undivided plate no. 12, is also consistent with the spacing found in the aforementioned album. Only the positioning of the four etchings in the sheet with “La Libreria”, “Le Procuratie”, “La Piera del Bando”, and “Le Preson”, differs from the three (D I-III) cited by Bromberg. Bromberg considers the printing of albums following order D as having been printed in the 1760s, presumably by Pasquali. As such it is probable that the copy presented here was printed sometime after the very first impressions of the 1740s, and before the late Remondini impressions of the 1770s.

Later publications of the series are known. The plates were re-issued by the Remondini family after Canaletto's death in 1768. These later Remondini editions are usually printed on a thinner paper bearing the watermark of the house, an 'R', and the signature and the title are also often erased alongside a decline in the quality of the impressions. According to their advertising catalogue of 1772, the Remondinis were then the owners of Canaletto's plates, but it is not known from whom they acquired them. When Consul Smith found himself in financial troubles in the late 1750s, he negotiated the sale of the entire warehouse of the Stamperia Pasquali to the booksellers Caraboli and Pompeati. The sale failed and presumably the plates remained with Pasquali, whereupon he republished them until Smith's death in 1770. We know that his widow sold the copperplates by Visentini to the publisher Ludovico Furlanetto, so we can presume that Remondini bought Canaletto's plates from her, shortly after the Consul's death in 1770. As stated above, the etchings made their first appearance in Remondini's 1772 catalogue; after 1778 the series was numbered.

“Canaletto brought to his etchings a painterly approach. The technique employed is not that of a professional etcher, but rather the painter, the fine draughtsman, working the etching needle with a certain freedom, much in the manner of drawings, the final aim being the achievement of 'colour'. Etching, which permits the artist the nervous strokes of a sketch, was a medium suited to Canaletto's temperament. His etchings owe much to the penwork of his drawings and the loosely handled short strokes, given contrast by variation of direction and intensity, produce luminous etchings in a distinctly individual style [...] Faced with a different technique, a new side of Canaletto's art emerges. Precluded is the instant vision of drawing, in its stead a laborious process begins. Each print becomes a challenge, and by comparing the states we have the possibility of following the artist's working method in his search for perfection. The innumerable additions and alterations make us realize with what infinite patience and love of detail Canaletto executed his plates. There is nothing casual about these etchings, the final result is meticulously sought after [...] Since the compositions are virtually complete after the first biting, the second [and following] state is characterized by technical precision [...] Although Canaletto's etched oeuvre is small, he obviously considered print-making an important activity in his life as an artist. [...] For his etchings, Canaletto found inspiration in portraying the Venetian countryside. The humble buildings and everyday occupations of its inhabitants took on the same poetic significance as the palaces and monuments of Venice. His most immediate concern to capture the atmosphere and particular illumination of the places portrayed is the quality which makes Canaletto's etchings outstanding” (Bromberg, pp. 5-13).

II. Like Canaletto, Marieschi was trained in his youth as both a stage designer and a stagehand. This experience is visible in all his productions; in the vedute paintings, which, over the years, became his main activity and interest, as well as in the engravings. Marieschi's series of etchings was published one year before the definitive edition of Antonio Visentini's Prospectus Magni Canalis Venetiarum came to light in 1742. At its appearance in 1741, the Magnificentiores selectioresque Urbis Venetiarum prospectus struck the audience with the power of a manifesto. Such exquisite quality and mastery of the etching technique, enhanced with bulino detailing, had never before been achieved. The precision with which all the details of the monuments were articulated and the illusory angular perspective of many of the views was unprecedented. To attain such incredible perspectives, Marieschi used a dark room with a quadrangular lens which created a visual field much wider than that of the human eye. If one compares Marieschi's views with the actual sites of the towns depicted, one is immediately struck by both the superb degree of detailing as well as the rather distorted perspectival frame.

Michele Marieschi dedicated himself to the art of etching only in the last years of his very short life; it was the perfect medium for making his skill as a vedutista known to a wider audience. Almost all of Marieschi's etchings are taken from his paintings, presumably with the purpose of promoting his own work. By this time, he was already enjoying a certain amount of popularity and was the protégé of the great art collector Johann Matthias von der Schulenburg, but had he not died so young, the series of etchings he published in 1741 would almost certainly have brought him far more commissions and general renown. The series was indeed very successful; it was reprinted several times and had a great impact on many contemporary vedutisti who based their paintings on Marieschi's etchings.

On 5 May 1741, Marieschi obtained the privilege for sixteen prints, as stated in the title-page of the series. He completed the remaining five plates in the short time preceding his death (18 January 1743). The plates were later acquired by the printer Teodoro Viero, who re-issued them, adding a plate number in the bottom left-hand corner.

“Marieschi's etched vedute, created with a wide variety of strokes to suggest different textures, have a dramatic allure and whiff of intrigue suggested by some of the figural groups that give them a nervous energy absent from those of Carlevarijs and Visentini. Marieschi, like Canaletto, had been trained as stage designer, and like Canaletto he took liberties with the perspective, exaggerating the breadth of the city views as though they were stage sets” (S. Boorsch, Venetian Prints and Books in the Age of Tiepolo, p. 21).

I. R. Bromberg, Canaletto's Etchings, San Francisco 1993; R. Pallucchini - G.F. Guarnati, Le acqueforti del Canaletto, Venezia 1945; D. Succi, Canaletto & Visentini fra Venezia & Londra. Castello di Gorizia, 7 giugno-21 settembre 1986. Catalogo della mostra, Cittadella 1986; K. Baetjer - J.G. Links (eds.), Canaletto, New York 1989; F. Vivian, The Consul Smith Collection, Munich 1989; S. Boorsch (ed.), Celebrating Canaletto: Etchings from the collection of the Arthur Ross Foundation, Istituto Italiano di Cultura, New York, November 6-December 30, 1997, Boca Raton Museum of Art, Boca Raton, Florida, January 22 - March 15, 1998, New York 1997; F. Montecuccoli degli Erri, Canaletto incisore, Venezia 2002. II. Millard 59; Cicognara 4040; Berlin Katalog 2697; D. Succi, Le incisioni di Michele Marieschi, Gorizia 1981, nos. 2-23; Pedrocco, 1-22; F. Mauroner, “Catalogue of the Complete Etchings of Michele Marieschi”, Print Collector's Quarterly, 27 (April 1940), no. 2, pp. 199-211; R. Toledano, Michele Marieschi, l'opera completa, Milano 1988, pp. 59-108; S. Boorsch, Venetian Prints and Books in the Age of Tiepolo, New York 1997; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 232.

One of the great achievements in the history of European printmaking

27. Tiepolo, Giandomenico (1727-1804)

Idee pittoresche sopra la Fugga in Egitto. [1753].

Complete set, comprising the engraved dedication, engraved frontispiece and title-page (on the same leaf), and the series of the twenty-four etchings printed two by two. All printed over fourteen very large sheets (each 537x385 mm; platemarks 190x252 mm, and smaller), on thick cream laid paper, with watermark A, or V and reversed F surmounted by three stars, 1753; final states (according to Tunick's revisions to the Rizzi catalogue; see Italian Prints of the 18th Century, no. 11). Contemporary half-mottled calf stained red, decorative papers over pasteboards. Corners worn. An exceptional copy, with well-inked and very fine impressions, and delicate plate tone in places.

A marvellous and complete set of Tiepolo's celebrated series, Flight into Egypt, with plates in the final state; the series is without precedent in originality and inventiveness, and stands as one of the great achievements in the history of European printmaking. Giandomenico Tiepolo was only twenty-three years old when he began to work on the series, and the majority of the plates were presumably executed while he was working, together with his father Giambattista and his brother Lorenzo, on the frescos in the Imperial Hall of Würzburg; he subsequently dedicated the series to their patron, Carl Philipp von Greiffenclau, Prince-Bishop of Würzburg.

The first etchings that Giandomenico executed were the Stations of the Cross after the paintings he had produced for the Venetian church of St. Polo (1748-1749); the composition and style of execution in these works is greatly influenced by his father. The idea for The Flight into Egypt was said to have come from Giambattista, but Giandomenico took it and ran with it, intending to prove his artistic inventiveness and defend his artistic reputation.

By turning the episode into a pictorial cycle, Tiepolo changed the handling of the Flight into Egypt completely: apart from the first and last images, which depict the departure from Bethlehem and arrival into Egypt, the etchings are basically interchangeable, re-arranging the Holy Family, the angels, the donkey, and the landscape in dynamic, ever-changing compositions.

The collection of etchings – twenty-four variations on what had previously been a two-stage story (the flight, and the rest) – later became an important source of material for the monumental collection of drawings Giandomenico undertook illustrating the New Testament; at least twenty-eight of the drawings focused on the Flight into Egypt.

“The theme of the Holy Family had been rendered sterile by centuries of use [...] To give the subject a new aesthetic dignity, Giandomenico concentrated on details of landscape, such as trees, shrubs and views, and on domestic objects, which gave the episodes a feeling of truth, an ethical quality impregnated with poetry” (Rizzi, The Etchings of the Tiepolos, p. 18).

C. Feller Ives, “Picturesque Ideas on the Flight into Egypt Etched by Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo”, The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, 29.1970/71 (1971), 5, pp. 195-202; A. Rizzi, The Etchings of the Tiepolos, London 1971, nos. 67-93; Tunick-Rizzi, Italian Prints of the 18th Century, London 1981, no. 11; A. M. Get - G. Knox, Domenico Tiepolo: A New Testament, Bloomington, Ind., 2006, p. 77; F. Reue, Giandomenico Tiepolo - Die Flucht nach Ägypten, Augustinermuseum Freiburg (exhibition catalogue), Freiburg i.B. 2007; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 234.

Bound by Georg Friedrich Krauss for Duke Albrecht Kasimir August von Sachsen-Teschen

28. Bayardi, Ottavio Antonio (1695-1764)

Catalogo degli antichi monumenti dissotterrati dalla discoperta città di Ercolano... Naples, Regia Stamperia, 1755. (uniformly bound with:) Le antichità di Ercolano, esposte. Regia Stamperia, 1757 - 1792.

Nine volumes, large folio (510x390 mm). Complete, with 609 plates (the extra plate no. 610 recorded in RIBA, is usually not included in the known copies). The first six volumes of the Antichità feature a frontispiece with medallion portrait of Charles III, King of Spain and the Indies, engraved by Filippo Morghen (1730-1807) after a drawing by Camillo Paderni (this frontispiece is lacking in the seventh volume); the frontispiece of the eighth volume bears a medallion portrait of Charles III's successor, his son Ferdinand IV. Contemporary Viennese bindings executed by Georg Friedrich Krauss (fl. 1791-1824) for Duke Albrecht von Sachsen-Teschen. The fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh volumes of the Antichità bound in red gilt-tooled full-morocco, while the boards of the first, second, third, and eighth ones, and those of Bayardi's Catalogo are covered with red painted paper. All nine volumes feature uniform red morocco spines with seven raised bands, with double green morocco lettering-pieces, the other compartments decorated with gilt floral tools, and the gilt monogram 'AST'. Marbled pastedowns and flyleaves, inside dentelles in the volumes bound in full morocco. A very fine, wide-margined set, printed on strong paper. Minor wear to the head of the spine of the first volume.

Provenance: Herzog Albrecht Kasimir August von Sachsen-Teschen (1738-1822; armorial bindings; see no. 253); Giorgio Fanan (ex-libris on the front pastedown of the first volume).

A splendid set of large volumes containing the first edition of this monumental work devoted to archaeological discoveries at the ancient Roman town of Herculaneum, printed on thick paper and magnificently bound for the well-known bibliophile Albert of Sachsen-Teschen, founder of the eponymous Albertina in Vienna. The set is complete with the Catalogo degli antichi monumenti dissotterrati per ordine della maestà di Carlo re delle due Sicilie by the archaeologist from Parma Ottavio Antonio Bayardi or Baiardi (1695-1764). The Catalogo briefly describes more than two thousand monuments and works unearthed in the discovered town. It was printed in 1755 and is often lacking in the recorded sets.

The Antichità di Ercolano represents the most important source for the development of neo-classical art. It was printed by the Regia Stamperia, the royal publishing house founded by the Bourbons in 1750, and edited by the Royal Herculaneum Academy. The vast project involved several scholars, and the reports were supplemented with magnificent illustrations by prominent artists of the time, including Camillo Paderni, director of the Royal Herculaneum Museum at Portici, and court artists who had obtained permits to draw the objects, including Anton Raphael Mengs, Luigi Vanvitelli, and Giovanni Battista Casanova.

The frontispiece of the first six volumes of the Antichità di Ercolano features a fine engraved portrait of Charles III (1716-1788), Duke of Bourbon, with symbols of the excavations carried out while he was King of Naples: some papyrus scrolls, a bust of Epicurus, vessels and coins, a pick and a shovel. It also depicts the inscription found in the theatre, including the word 'Herculanenses', which enabled excavators to identify the town brought to light as Herculaneum. The frontispiece of the eighth volume – appeared in 1792, i.e., thirty-five years after the publication of the first volume – bears instead the medallion portrait of Charles III's successor, his son Ferdinand IV (1751-1828). It is rare to find a such numbers of engraved portraits in the volumes of the Antichità. In fact, the copies known are often found lacking many of the frontespieces.

Albrecht von Sachsen-Teschen assembled one of the most complete and finely illustrated books from the presses of leading printers. Although unsigned, the present binding can confidently be attributed to the outstanding Viennese binder Georg Friedrich Krauss (fl. 1791-1824), one of von Sachsen-Teschen's principal binders (see no. 253). “Les exemplaires sont tous d'exception, imprimés sur grand papier, les gravures soit avant la lettre, soit en différents états; mais ce qui rend la collection tout à fait unique ce sont les superbes reliures de l'époque, la pluspart avec les dos mosaïqués et ornés du chiffre du duc Albert de Saxe, d'une fraicheur et d'un état de conservation parfaits” (Catalogue de beaux livres ayant appartenu au duc Albert de Saxe-Teschen, p. VIII).

Cicognara 2645; Ebert 711; RIBA 112 and 224; Kissner 199; Blackmer 678; Catalogue de beaux livres ayant appartenu au duc Albert de Saxe-Teschen, Milan 1930; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 237.

At age twenty-three... he already had the talent of a genius — Robison

29. 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’ e 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.

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