A Baroque Effigy of the Virgin Mary by Sassoferato. Only 1 other Copy Recorded

BLESSED VIRGIN MARY. ICONS. Galanti, Gianlonardo Maria

Nove discorsi e panegirico della Madonna della salute dedicati a sua eccellenza la signora principessa Donna Ippolita Buoncompagni Rezzonico.

Macerata: Presso Bartolommeo Capitani, 1780


Octavo: 20 x 13.8 cm. 92, [3], [1 blank] p. With an engraved frontispiece b. Collation: π1, A-F8


Bound in original decorative paper-covered boards, spine a little frayed. A fine, fresh copy, with a little light foxing. With an attractive frontispiece by the Portuguese printmaker Gaspar Frois Machado (1759-1796) illustrating the "True Effigy of the Madonna della Salute". The book is extremely rare and was perhaps printed in only a few copies for private distribution. Provenance: 18th c. purchase note in blank margin of frontis. A combined search of KVK and OCLC notes only a single copy, at Harvard.

An attractive –and extremely rare- book of ten discorsiand a panegyric in honor of the "Madonna della Salute", the "Madonna of health". The book was published in Macerata and dedicated to the Roman princess Ippolita Ludovisi (1751-1813).

The book is of special interest for the engraving of an icon of the Virgin Mary painted in 1666 and housed in the church of San Giorgio in Macerata. The painting, attributed to the Baroque painter Giovanni Battista Salvi di Sassoferato (1609-1685), is still venerated in Macerata on November 21st, the Feast of the Presentation of the Virgin.

The author tells us the story of the painting's history and arrival in Macerata. In 1630, a plague ravaged Venice. Despite prayers, there was no respite from the disease until the Venetian Senate vowed a church in honor of the Blesses Virgin Mary, seen as the city's protector. An icon of the Virgin and Child was installed above the altar.

In 1666, the Archpriest of San Giorgio in Macerata, Don Ludovico Ferraioli, traveled to Venice where he saw the icon and sought out an artist who might make him a copy. According to the account, an unknown person approached Ferraioli at his hotel and presented him with a copy of the painting as a gift. The priest returned to Macerata and had the painting installed in San Giorgio. 73 years later, in 1749, the people of Macerata appealed to the Vatican to coronate the image. This was granted, and the painting was altered to include two golden crowns (shown in the engraving) for the Madonna and the sleeping infant Christ.