"One of the earliest topographical collections of engraved views of Rome" (Millard)

Dosio, Giovanni Antonio (1533-1609); Cavalieri, Giovanni Battista (1525-1597), engraver

Urbis Romae aedificiorum illustriumquae Supersunt Reliquiae Summa cum Diligentia a Ioanne Amtonio Dosio stilo ferreo ut hodie cernuntur descriptae at a Io. Baptista De Cavaleriis aeneis tabulis incises repraesentatae M.D.LXIX. Kal. Mai.

[Florence: No place, no printer], 1569


Folio album: 27.5 x 21.5 cm. 50 plates, numbered 1 to 50 in the plate, comprising an etched title page and 49 etched views. Complete.


A rare, complete suite of Dosio’s important views of Roman monuments, bound in full 18th c. mottled calf, very nicely rebacked. This copy is in excellent condition with sharp, rich impressions of the plates. Short descriptions in Latin are etched into each of the plates.

“One of the most important of the sixteenth-century collections of views of Rome, being free from the fantastic reconstructions so dear to the archaeologists of the period.” (Fowler)

The first engraving serves as both title page and a dedication to Cosimo de’ Medici. The other 49 plates show the magnificent architectural monuments of Rome, many of them covered with vegetation, visited by strolling passers-by, or being drawn by artists. They are shown in their dilapidated grandeur and often with their medieval accretions.  Others, such as the Republican temples in the Forum Boarium, the Temple of Venus Genetrix, the Pantheon, the Lateran baptistery, Santa Costanza, and the Baths of Diocletian, are shown architectonically, “con intento puramente descrittivo e documentario” in order to show their structural character.

Despite the disastrous Sack of Rome in 1527, the Renaissance fascination with antiquity continued unabated not only among the scholars, artists, and cultural elite, but also among the endless flood of visitors and pilgrims who came to marvel at the wonders of the Eternal City. This fascination led to an ever-increasing demand for graphic representations of ancient Roman sculpture and monuments. 

“Born in San Gimignano in 1533, Giovanni Antonio Dosio moved to Rome in 1548. He assisted in the excavations of SS. Cosma and Damiano in the Forum Romanum, where he uncovered the 3rd century Marble Plan (Forma Urbis Romae). From 1560 onward, Dosio made more than 110 drawings of ancient sculpture, architectonic studies, and views of monuments.”(Lukomski) In 1569 Dosio’s drawings were translated into etchings by the celebrated engraver Giovanni Battista Cavalieri (1530-1597). These prints, published as “Urbis Romae aedificiorum illustriumquae Supersunt Reliquiae” are among Cavalieri’s finest work. 

“Dosio’s drawings distinguish themselves from others not only because they constitute a documentary record of the iconography of ancient Rome, but also because they possess something of a poetic spirit that elevates them to the level of true art… They have the same power of expression and the same expressive ‘color’ of the great paintings of the period. (Lukomski, Architettura Classica, p. 412-415)

Cicognara 3704; Brunet I, 1697; Fowler 107; Adams D, 861; Berlin Kat. 1846; Rossetti 2317