FOUNTAINS IN C17 ROME
Raccolta delle principali fontane dell’inclita città di Roma.
Rome, G.B. de Rossi, 1647 [after 1651?].
Large folio. Engraved t-p and 44 superb etchings of Roman fountains, all mounted (with wide margins) on thick laid paper and bound in an album. Very minor marginal foxing, occasional marginal toning or traces of glue to corners, repaired tears to upper margin and upper outer corner of pl. 40. An excellent copy in mid-C19 half blue calf over marbled boards, gilt-lettered spine, joints little scuffed, C19 autograph of P. de Morey, bookplate of de Morey library and rubber stamp of Anna Laetitia Countess Pecci-Blunt to front pastedown, modern bookplates of J.B. and M. Bury loose.
Excellent collection of etchings, in fresh impression, from this famous series depicting fountains in the city of Rome and surrounding locations. This is the second, enlarged edition, 44 plates instead of 20, printed on one side only. Although the t-p is dated 1647, the second edition was not released before 1651, as suggested by the etched date on the plate of the Obelisco Pamphilio (Berlin Cat. (3601) and (3602)). In 1618, Domenico Parasacchi (fl. first half of the C17) published, in collaboration with Giovanni Maggi, a set of plates entitled ‘Fontane diverse’ depicting major Roman fountains. This collection was the basis for Giovanni Battista de Rossi’s first edition of ‘Raccolta delle principale fontane’ of 1637. Giovanni Battista (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. In 1645, Domenico reprinted the Parasacchi-Maggi plates as ‘Nuova raccolta di fontane’, including also fountains in Tivoli and Frascati, in competition with Giovanni Battista’s ‘Raccolta’. Between two and six years later, the latter published this edition, enlarged with 24 additional plates designed by Girolamo Felice and engraved by Pietro Moggi. In the second half of the C17 self-concluded 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 fountains portrayed were mostly built between the late C16 and early C17—a period of intense urban changes undertaken under papal sponsorship. The fountains reflected a sophisticated taste ranging from the geometrical, classical simplicity of the late C16 to the C17 baroque taste for grotesques, ‘rustic’ and theatrical architectures. In addition to those in main Roman squares (e.g., Piazza del Popolo and Piazza Barberini), the plates illustrate one of the oldest of the Renaissance—Trastevere—as well as others at the Belvedere, Frascati, Tivoli and at villas of the nobility (e.g., the Aldobrandini). The gallery of images turns the reader into a walking tourist. The plates include two famous fountains with ‘talking statues’—the Babuino and the Fachino, where, despite the recurring intervention of the authorities, the politically dissatisfied left critical or satirical messages against the Pope or government. A handsome collection and tribute to the architectural transformations of Renaissance Rome.
Anna Laetitia (1885-1997), Countess Pecci-Blunt, was a major collector of books and paintings, and a renowned patron of the arts in post-war Rome.
BL STC It. C17, p. 657; Berlin Cat. (3602) (44 plates). Not in Fowler. Indice delle stampe de’ Rossi, ed. A. Grelle Iusco (Rome, 1996).