GREAT ARCHITECTURE – HOLLAND HOUSE COPY

RUGGIERI, Ferdinando, BOUCHARD, Giuseppe. Scelta di architetture antiche e moderne della città di Firenze. [with] Piante ed alzati interiori ed esterni dell’insigne chiesa di S. Maria del Fiore. [with] La Libreria Mediceo-Laurenziana architettura di Michelagnolo Buonarroti.

Florence, appresso l’Editore, 1755.

£12,500

FIRST EDITION thus. Large folio. 4 vols, the fourth in two parts. I) engraved frontispiece, (x) pp., 1 folding map of Florence, 80 engraved plates; II) engraved frontispiece, (vi) pp., 80 engraved plates; III) engraved frontispiece, (vi) pp., 78 engraved plates (4 double-page); IV) 2 parts in 1. 1: (ii) pp., engraved portrait of G.B. Nelli, xxxxiv pp., 17 [i.e., 20] engraved plates (17 double-page, plate VIIIA on the same copperplate as VII), 2: engraved frontispiece portrait of Michelangelo, (iv) pp., engraved portrait of G.I. Rossi, XXXIII pp., (i) pp., 22 engraved plates (3 double-page), vol. IV/1 without engraved frontispiece. Engraved architectural frontispieces with allegorical personifications; typographical t-ps in red and black with engraved architectural vignette; 279 engraved plates with façades, fountains, floors and blueprints of Florentine monuments; engraved initials and ornaments. Edges untrimmed and little dusty, very occasional marginal oil spots or marks, I: intermittent light water stain to lower blank margin, II: occasional, very slight foxing, III: a few marginal oil splashes, IV: pl. 17 (Part I) a bit browned, remargined at first outer edge. A very clean, fresh set, completely uncut, in contemporary vellum, raised bands, gilt-lettered morocco labels to spine, worn, edges dust-soiled. Bookplate of Holland House c.1800 and Sir A.E. Richardson R.A. to front pastedown.

A good, fresh, clean copy, with its original edges, of the first edition of these lavishly illustrated collected works on Florentine architecture—ex-bibliotheca of the leading C20 British architect Sir A.E. Richardson. This is the second, enlarged edition of Ferdinando Ruggieri’s masterpiece of Baroque architecture, ‘Studio d’architettura civile sopra gli ornamenti di porte e finestre colle misure’ (1722-28). To this, the printer Joseph Bouchard added two further works on Santa Maria del Fiore and the Biblioteca Laurenziana, published in one volume. Bouchard perceived that ‘a number of important works on the architectural beauties of Florence were no longer easy to obtain, and the demand from Grand Tourists for such lavishly-illustrated volumes induced him to prepare the present composite reprint’ (BAL 2878). Vols I-III reproduce Ruggieri’s work, using the original plates, with a superb folding map of Florence and 238 engraved plates of portals, windows and façades of Florentine buildings, including Santa Maria della Neve, the Uffizi, the Duomo, the Casino dello Zuccari and the Loggia di Tornaquinci. Vol. IV is divided in two parts. The first, entitled ‘Piante ed alzati interiori ed esterni dell’insigne chiesa di S. Maria del Fiore’, was first published by Giovan Battista Nelli in 1733. In this second edition, it bears a learned introduction by Nelli’s son, concerning the historical structure of the Church of Santa Maria del Fiore, with detailed illustrations of its parts. A gem is his new study, illustrated on Plate XVII (recut by him), on the plan and outer ‘alzato’ of the Baptistry of San Giovanni Battista. Through strict architectural reasoning, Nelli undid the long-believed theory that the church had been a Temple of Mars in the early centuries AD (‘Bibliografia’, II, 282-83). The second part, entitled ‘La Libreria Mediceo-Laurenziana’ and originally published by G.I. Rossi in 1739, celebrates Michelangelo’s masterpiece, with 22 original plates illustrating this handsome and important building. A lavish, fresh and clean architectural set.

Sir A.E. Richardson (1880-1964) was a major architect, president of the Royal Academy, professor at University College London and founder of the Georgian Group, which looked back to the Neoclassicism of Sir John Sloane.

This copy is a remarkable survival from the star-crossed Holland House. Built in the C17, it became a centre for the Whig party under the ownership of Charles James Fox, first Baron Holland, and long remained at the centre of English social and political life. The house was partially destroyed during the Blitz of 1940, together with a portion of its handsome library, most of which suffered extensively from the secondary effects of the blaze. This handsome set was a very fortunate and fine survivor.

Brunet V, 1455-56; BAL 2878; Berlin Kat 2690. Not in Fowler. Bibliografia storico-ragionata della Toscana (Florence, 1805), II.

L3315

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