STUNNING ARCHITECTURE

Perspectivae pictorum atque architectorum.

Augsburg, J. Wolff, 1708-11.

£3,950

Folio. 2 vol. in 1, ff. (2 unnumbered plates) 58 + 100 numbered plates (1 unnumbered plate), 54 + 118 numbered plates (Cc [1 unnumbered plate] Cc2). Roman letter, with large Gothic, some double column. 224 engraved plates of architectural diagrams, façades and capitols, decorated initials, head- and tailpieces. Uniform slight age browning, t-p and two preliminary woodcuts a little dusty, some thumbing and mainly marginal slight foxing, light water stain to lower margin of first and last few ll., couple of small rust holes (one touching a letter), the odd ink spot mainly to outer fore-edge, part 2: ancient repair to outer margin of pl. 54, lower margin of pl. 116 trimmed and frayed. A good copy in contemporary south German pigskin, lacking clasps, double blind ruled to a panel design, outer borders with blind-tooled floral decoration, lozenge centrepiece in blind, raised bands, ancient repair in vellum to outer edge of lower cover. Contemporary illegible inscription inked to front pastedown, light pencil annotation to pl. 11 and K (part 2).

Lavishly illustrated second Latin-German edition of this masterful manual of painting and architecture which marked ‘the culminating moment in the tradition of illustrated books on perspective’ (Palmer, ‘All is very plain’, 157). It was first published in Latin and Italian in Rome in 1693 (vol. 1) and 1700 (vol. 2), closely followed by English and French editions which testify to its swift international success. A German translation of vol. 1, most influential among Bavarian architects and painters, appeared in 1706 and a complete one of both with parallel Latin-German text, as in this edition, in 1708-11. Graesse defined these Latin-German editions ‘counterfeits’ (Graesse V, 429) because the plates, engraved by Joanne Boxbarth were, unlike in the English and French editions, ‘reversed…and reduced copies of those of the 1702 [Roman] edition’ (Fowler 253). They should instead be considered simply as smaller format editions intended for easy consultation. Andrea Pozzo (or Puteus, 1642-1709) was a Jesuit, Baroque painter and architect. His designs, based on the technique of the ‘quadratura’, were renowned for the resulting illusionistic space which he employed, for instance, in his astonishing frescoes at the Roman Church of St Ignatius. Rooted in the early modern tradition of the study of perspective, particularly Palladio, Vignola, Dubreuil and Accolti, ‘Perspectivae’ was intended as a manual for painters and architects. With the help of handsome illustrations, it led its readers from the creation of geometrical vanishing points to complex applications of illusionistic perspective to capitols, columns and sections of buildings through the techniques of ‘optica deformatio’, ‘projectio’ and ‘elevatio’. Among the plates are a few portraying Pozzo’s own frescoes at St Ignatius and samples of architecture ‘di sotto in sù’ explaining how to depict columns seen from below, as in Pozzo’s famous tromp l’oeil ceilings—an epitome of the Baroque. 

Graesse V, 429; Fowler 253; Brunet IV, 984. R. Palmer, ‘“All is very plain, upon inspection of the figure”: The Visual Method of Andrea Pozzo’s Perspectiva Pictorum et Architectorum’, in The Rise of the Image, ed. T. Frangenberg (Aldershot, 2017), 157-213.

L3063

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