Rome & The Papal States. The Very Rare “Theatrum Italiae”. With 118 Folding & Full page Engraved Illustrations

Blaeu, Joan (1596-1673)

Theatrvm civitatvm et admirandorvm Italiae / ad aevi veteris & praesentis temporis faciem expressum a Ioanne Blaeu, G.F.

Amsterdam: Typis Joannis Blaeu, 1663


Two Large Folio Volumes: 56 x 38 cm. Vol I: 2 ff. (General printed title conjugate with dedication), 2 ff. ("Ad lectorem"), 1 f. (Dedication), 2 ff. (Printed section title, half title), 1-253 pp., 1 f. (Index leaf). Illustrated with an engraved frontispiece and 74 plates.


Bound in magnificent matching bindings of contemporary Dutch vellum, ruled and tooled in gold, with yapped edges and substantial remains of the original green silk ties laid-in. The bindings are in excellent condition, with a short tear to the vellum, without loss, to the foot of one volume. Illustrated with 118 plates (most of which are folding) including maps and views of Italian cities, monuments, sculpture & obelisks, including the sprawling composite plate of Frascati and the two composite plates, after Bonifacio and Guerra, of the moving of the Vatican obelisk. The plate of Bologna has the added extension to the left edge in the first volume. Replacement text has been superimposed on pages 296 and 304 in the second volume.

A fine set of one of Joan Blaeu’s most magnificent productions. This set is very rare, owing probably to the fire that ravaged Blaeu’s workshop in 1672, the year before the publication of these “town books”. This copy has an additional plate, not recorded by Koeman, of the Obeliscus Pamphilius, in volume 2.

The two volumes are profusely illustrated with town views, architectural plans, ancient, Renaissance, and Baroque architecture (including many villas); and sculpture. The vast majority of these are double-paged, with a number of fold-out plates of obelisks and three very large, composite engravings. The plates are rarely signed and those that are have a variation of “Excudebat Ioannes Blaeu”. A number of the engravings are based on earlier works: many of the obelisks derive from the works of Kircher; the images of the moving of the Vatican obelisk are taken from Fontana.

A full list of the plates is available upon request.

Koeman, C. Atlantes Neerlandici; Bl 72.; Koeman, C. Atlantes Neerlandici; Bl 73; Philippsa, 4039; Cremonini, 39