ROSSI, Giovanni Battista de, LAURO, Giacomo. Palazzi diversi nel’Alma Cità di Roma.

Rome, ad istanza di Giombattista de Rossi, 1638 [1655].


Oblong folio. 51 superb engravings of palaces in Rome, Pavia, Venice and Madrid, including t-p (dated 1638). T-p dusty, ancient repair to blank outer margin of first few ll., slight marginal soiling or thumbing, many edges untrimmed. A very good copy, well-margined, on thick paper,with plates in good, crisp impression. In contemporary vellum over boards, modern bookplates to front pastedown.

Superbly illustrated copy of the second, much enlarged edition of this famous and scarce collection of architectural engravings. Giovanni Battista de Rossi (1601-78) belonged to a family of printers and engravers operating, in open competition, between the workshops of Piazza Navona (his own) and via della Pace, run by his cousin Domenico. Giovanni Battista was the first de Rossi to publish views of modern Rome, in 1638, in a shorter version of only 22 leaves. The engravings were made after those produced by Giacomo Lauro (1573-1645?) for ‘Antiquae Urbis vestigia’ (1612-28), a collection of ancient Roman views expanded in 1628 to include modern palaces of the nobility. In 1650, Domenico issued his own collection entitled ‘Nuova Raccolta di Palazzi Diversi’—reprising Giovanni Battista’s title—with engravings by Pietro Ferrerio; he published an enlarged version in 1655, clearly in competition with Giovanni Battista’s second edition. In the second half of the C17 series of ‘vedute’, which could however be easily enlarged, became increasingly popular among collectors. Their ‘exhaustive’ nature, pleasing to scholars and visitors, was also steered by the collecting activity of noble families and the agenda of the Catholic Church, as well as changing tastes concerning modern versus ancient buildings (Grelle, ‘Indice’, 43-44). The palaces include the Vatican complex, the Collegium of the Propaganda Fide, the Sant’Ufizio, the Cancelleria Apostolica and the palace of Cardinal Rocci, as well as the residences, designed by the likes of Michelangelo, of major families like the Farnese (exterior and interior), Medici (in Trinità and Piazza Madama), Cesi, Barberini, Boncompagni and Aldobrandini. The views are mostly of elegant façades often decorated with family heraldry, as one would see from the street. Some etchings, like the Capitol and the Farnese palace in Caprarola, are bird’s-eye views; others include passers-by, horse-carts and other figures. Copies with a complete collation, like this one, also feature, despite the theme marked in the title, views of the Duomo in Pavia, four of St Mark’s Square in Venice, the Monastery of the Escorial and the Pantheon Gotterano (the burial place of the kings of Spain). A scarce, exquisite collection of architectural etchings.

Although the engraved t-p is dated 1638, as in the first edition, the number of plates in this copy reflects the collation of the second (e.g., BL and Berlin Cat. copy).

Only UPenn and Columbia (both 1655 with 51 plates) copies recorded in the US.

Berlin Cat (2661). Not in Fowler, BL STC It. C17 or Brunet. Indice delle stampe de’ Rossi, ed. A. Grelle Iusco (Rome, 1996).


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