A 17th c. Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae

ROME. Beatrizet, Nicolas (1507-1565), Dup√©rac, √Čtienne (ca. 1525-1604) Brambilla, Ambrogio (active 1579-1599) et al., artists

"Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae": A bespoke album of 43 plates, compiled and bound ca. 1675

Rome: Various publishers: Nicolaes van Aelst; Hendrick van Schoel; Giovanni Orlandi; Giovanni Giacomo de 1675

$50,000.00

Folio: Plate dimensions: 41.2 x 54.5 cm. [1] leaf (manuscript index), 43 engraved and etched plates, [1] leaf (blank.)

Bound in contemporary limp vellum (lightly soiled, a few light stains, two small defects to spine, wear to corners), with remains of rawhide ties. The contents are in excellent, overall fresh condition, with very minor faults as follows: (a few light marginal damp-stains, a half-inch tear in the blank portion of plate 11, occ. very light marginal soiling, occ. clean splits in blank margins at folds, plates 23 and 27 lightly toned, dampstain with tide line in one margin of plate 31, margins of plate 33 foxed and with small section of blank margin missing). The impressions are rich and sharp (with only 1 small section of a single plate lightly inked).

All prints in this album have been numbered on the verso in brown ink, with those numbers corresponding to a manuscript index (in French). Above this inventory there is a note in Italian that the prints were purchased at Rome: "stampe comprate a Roma". Based on the latest print in the album, this must have occurred after 1675. Provenance: 1. Inscription on verso of final print, “Ex Bibliotheca Petri delle Dequeral”. This same name appears alongside the Italian note on the first leaf and is written again on the rear pastedown. 2. This inscription has been scored through and another, for the French Benedictine monastery of the Congregation of St. Maur at Marmoutrier (“Maior Monasterium”), has been added. A second inscription for this monastery, written in brown ink on the verso of the first plate, reads "Maioris Monasterii Congreg. S. Mauri".

This is a bespoke album of 43 large engravings and etchings of ancient and modern Roman subjects, representative of the vast publishing phenomenon that came to be known as the "Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae" (The Mirror of Roman Magnificence”). The “Speculum” had its genesis at Rome in the years following the sack of 1527, when the Spanish emigree Antonio Salamanca began producing engravings of Roman subjects with regularity (prior to the sack such prints were few and appeared sporadically). In the 1540s, another emigree printer, the Frenchman Antonio Lafreri (Antoine Lafréry), began a rival enterprise, copying many of Salamanca’s engravings. In 1553, these two competing Roman publishers entered into a contractual alliance for twelve years, “with the explicit purpose of printing and selling copper- plate prints of ancient and modern subjects… When the contractual agreement between Salamanca and Lafreri was established in 1553 the underlying principle of the “Speculum” was in place: it was to be a corpus of documentary prints of ancient and modern Roman subjects, mainly in folio.”(Parshall)

Lafreri’s and Salamanca’s engravings, illustrating the ancient and modern marvels of Rome (tombs, temples, palaces, baths, statuary, obelisks, columns, inscriptions, frescoes, etc.), were purchased by tourists as souvenirs, studied by antiquarians, used as models by artists and architects, and circulated as virtual visits for armchair travelers beyond Rome. By the late 1570s, collectors could also purchase an engraved title page while selecting prints for their own Speculum collections. As a result, Lafreri’s customers or those of his heirs (Salamanca had died in 1562 and Parshall suggests that the title was only in use after Lafreri’s death in 1577), collected images to suit their own needs or taste. After the death of Lafreri, two-thirds of the existing copper plates went to his heirs, and another third was sold to other publishers. These new owners continued to print the existing images while still producing new prints. As the present collection shows, publishers who purchased or inherited earlier plates also inherited some print stock as well.

This volume comprises prints published at Rome, struck over a period of about 90 years, from 1587 to 1675, with the earliest of the plates from which these impressions were pulled engraved in 1549 for Lafreri. The majority of the prints in this album were issued by the de' Rossi brothers and two Flemish émigrés, Nicolaes van Aelst (ca. 1550-1613) and Hendrick van Schoel (ca. 1565-1622), who had set up shop in Rome and became prominent publishers of prints and maps. In December 1588, Van Aelst was granted the papal privilege for prints of Roman monuments built or altered by Sixtus V (nos. 5-10). The prints as issued by van Schoel (nos. 15-17, 19, 23, 25, 29, 30, 32, 39, 40) are very rare.

No extant version of the Speculum is identical in content or organization, and nearly all of the early “Speculum” collections were subsequently disbound or incorporated into later collections. The volume offered here is a fine example of an original “Speculum” collection, selected by, bound for, and reflecting the taste and interest of a 17th c. visitor to Rome who brought the volume (home?) to France. 

The latest print, Pope Clement X opening the Holy Door of Saint Peter’s for the Jubilee of 1675, gives us a terminus post quem for the composition of the album. From the presence of that print and its prominent placement (it is the second print in the album, following the map of the Roman campagna), we can speculate that the purchaser was in Rome that year, since Jubilees drew large numbers of visitors to the Eternal City. The third plate, showing pilgrims praying at the tomb of St. Peter beneath Bernini’s baldacchino in St. Peter’s, and the the fourth plate, showing the Seven major pilgrimage churches of Rome (produced during the 1650 Jubilee but still of interest and use to visitors in 1675), could be construed as further evidence of such a visit.

Beginning with the fifth print, the album follows a largely regular arrangement: columns, obelisks (including two views of Bernini’s Fountain of the Four Rivers), major ancient monuments (Colosseum, Pantheon, etc.), ancient statuary, modern edifices (Campidoglio, Palazzo Farnese, etc.). Rounding out the album are three plates of events (fireworks over Castel Sant’Angelo, a composite of ceremonies performed by Pope Clement X, and the papal possesso). One notable (and unusual) inclusion is a sheet with two comic genre images with sexual connotations.

“Print collecting in the Renaissance is not very well understood, mainly because prints were numerous, comparatively inexpensive, and therefore rarely inventoried. They are less likely than other sorts of objects to come down to us with a clear indication of their original setting. Nevertheless, the evidence of a few large collections from the sixteenth century does suggest some consistent patterns, most notably that prints accumulated in substantial numbers tended to be compiled in albums where they were organized by subject- matter and scale…. There is still much to learn about how such collecting practices evolved and the development of a market to serve them.”(Parshall, “Antonio Lafreri's Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae", Print Quarterly , March 2006, Vol. 23, No. 1, pp. 3-28)

The plates:

1. Giorgio Widman (1672-1682) - Map "Nova Campagna di Roma". Rome, Giovanni Giacomo de' Rossi, ca. 1660.
2. Anonymous - Pope Clement X opening the Holy Door of Saint Peter’s for the Jubilee of 1675. Rome, Giovanni Giacomo de' Rossi, 1675.
3. Giovanni Battista Braccelli (ca. 1584-1650) – View of Bernini's baldacchino in St. Peter's, with pilgrims. Rome, Giovanni Battista de' Rossi, ca. 1660.
4. Francesco Villamena (ca. 1565-1624) - Pope Innocent X visiting the Seven Major Churches of Rome during the 1650 Jubilee. Rome, Giovanni Marco Paluzzi, 1650.
5. Anonymous - Trajan's Column, with the coat of arms of Pope Sixtus V. Rome, Giovanni Giacomo de' Rossi, ca. 1650 (first state by Nicolaes van Aelst in 1589).
6. Anonymous - The Column of Marcus Aurelius after the restoration ordered by Sixtus V in 1589. Rome, Giovanni Giacomo de' Rossi, ca. 1650 (first state by Nicolaes van Aelst in 1589).
7. Anonymous - The Egyptian obelisk positioned in front of Santa Maria Maggiore during the pontificate of Sixtus V. Rome, Giovanni Giacomo de' Rossi, ca. 1650 (first state by Nicolaes van Aelst in 1589).
8. Anonymous - View of the Egyptian obelisk of Rameses II, re-erected in Piazza Santa Maria del Popolo during the pontificate of Sixtus V. Rome, G.G. de' Rossi, ca. 1650 (first state by Nicolaes van Aelst in 1589).
9. Ambrogio Brambilla (active 1579-1599) - View of the Egyptian obelisk of Tutmosis III, re-erected at the Lateran by Domenico Fontana during the pontificate of Sixtus V. Rome, G.G. de' Rossi, ca. 1650 (first state by Nicolaes van Aelst in 1589).
10. Anonymous - View of the Egyptian obelisk erected at St Peter's Square under the pontificate of Sixtus V. Rome, G.G. de' Rossi, ca. 1660-70.
11. Louis Rouhier (active ca. 1650) - Gian Lorenzo Bernini's Fountain of the Four Rivers on Piazza Navona, seen from the East. Rome, G.G. de' Rossi, 1651.
12. Louis Rouhier (active ca. 1650) - Gian Lorenzo Bernini's Fountain of the Four Rivers on Piazza Navona, seen from the West. Rome, G.G. de' Rossi, 1651.
13. Ambrogio Brambilla (active 1579-1599) - Section and elevation of the Colosseum in Rome. Rome, Nicolaes van Aelst, ca. 1600 (first state by Duchetti in 1581).
14. Nicolas Beatrizet (1507-1565) - The Pantheon. Rome, Nicolaes van Aelst, ca. 1590.
15. Anonymous - The Porta Maggiore. Rome, Hendrick van Schoel, ca. 1610 (first state by Lafreri in 1549).
16. Anonymous - The Arch of Janus on the Forum Boarium. Rome, Hendrick van Schoel, 1613-1622 (first state by Tomasso Barlacchi in 1550).
17. Anonymous - Temple of Antoninus and Faustina. Rome, Hendrick van Schoel, ca. 1620 (first state by Antonio Lafreri in 1565).
18. Ambrogio Brambilla (active 1579-1599) - Baths of Agrippa (imaginative reconstruction). Rome, Giovanni Orlandi, 1590 (first state by Duchetti in 1585).
19. Jacob Bos (active 1549-1580), after Pirro Ligorio (1512-1583) - Baths of Diocletian and Maxentius (reconstruction). Rome, Hendrick van Schoel, 1615 (first state by Bolognini Zaltieri in 1560).
20. Antonio Salamanca (1479–1562)- Pyramid of Caius Cestius. Rome, Nicolaes van Aelst, ca. 1610 (first state by Lafreri in 1549).
21. Anonymous - Mausoleum of Hadrian (reconstruction). Rome, Nicolaes van Aelst, ca. 1610.
22. Anonymous - Castel Sant'Angelo. Rome, Nicolaes van Aelst, ca. 1610.
23. Étienne Dupérac (ca. 1525-1604) - Mausoleum of Augustus. Rome, Hendrick van Schoel, ca. 1620 (first state by Lafreri in 1575).
24. Nicolas Beatrizet (1507-1565) - The Circus Maximus. Rome, Pietro de' Nobili, 1584-85 (first state by Lafreri in 1553).
25. Ambrogio Brambilla (active 1579-1599) - Port of Ostia. Rome, Hendrick van Schoel, 1622.
26. Nicolas Beatrizet (attributed) (1507-1565) - Statue of the River God Marforio in the Forum Romanum. Rome, Marcello Clodio, 1587-88 (first state by Lafreri in 1550).
27. Nicolas Beatrizet (attrib.) (1507-1565)- The sculptural group representing Menelaus supporting the dying Patroclus, known as Pasquino. Rome, Nicolaes van Aelst, 1610 (first state by Lafreri in 1550).
28. Anonymous - The Emperor Commodus dressed as Hercules. Rome, Marcello Clodio, 1587-88 (first state by Salamanca 1542).
29. Anonymous - Statue of Meleager. Rome, Hendrick van Schoel, 1622. 
30. Pieter Perret (1555-1639) - Diomedes with the Palladium in his left hand. Rome, Hendrick van Schoel, ca. 1620.
31. Anonymous - Venus and Amor. Rome, Giovanni Orlandi, 1602-1613 (first state by Lafreri in 1561).
32. Nicolas Beatrizet (1507-1565)  - Three antique statues (Roma Victrix, Numidian captives). Rome, Hendrick van Schoel, ca. 1620 (first state by Lafreri in 1549).
33. Philippe Thomassin (1562-1622) - Two satirical prints on unequal love and foolish lovers. Extremely rare. Rome, ca. 1620.
34. Anonymous - Mithras killing the bull. Rome, Hendrick van Schoel, ca. 1620 (first state by Lafreri in 1564).
35. Anonymous - Statue of Romulus and Remus being suckled by the she wolf. Rome, Nicolaes van Aelst, ca. 1610.
36. Étienne Dupérac (after) (ca. 1525-1604)  - Capitoline Hill. Rome, Giovanni Battista de' Rossi, 1650.
37. Nicolas Beatrizet (1507-1565)  - Façade of Palazzo Farnese (publisher unknown – van Aelst’s name removed).
38. Nicolas Beatrizet (attributed) (1507-1565)  - Interior of Palazzo Farnese. Rome, Giovanni Battista de' Rossi, ca. 1670 (first state by Lafreri in 1560).
39. Bartolomeo Ammenati (after) (1511-1592) - Courtyard of the Villa Giulia. Rome, Hendrick van Schoel, ca. 1620.
40. Ambrogio Brambilla (active 1579-1599) - The reconstruction by Pirro Ligorio of the aviary of Marcus Varro. Rome, Hendrick van Schoel, ca. 1620 (first known state by Tranezini in 1558).
41. Anonymous - La Girandola. Rome, Nicolaes van Aelst, ca. 1600.
42. Anonymous – Processions and rites of Pope Clement X. Rome, Giovanni Giacomo de' Rossi, 1670.
43. Antonio Tempesta (1555-1630) - The procession from the Vatican to the Lateran for the papal "Possesso" of Clement X. Rome, Giovanni Battista de' Rossi, 1670.

References: Peter Parshall, "Antonio Lafreri's Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae", Print Quarterly 2006, pp. 3-28. - Christian Huelsen, "Das Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae des Antonio Lafreri", 1921