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Lot 72 - Web Auction 118

3.700,00/4.500,00 €
Starting price:
3.600,00 EUR
Price realized:
3.600,00 EUR

Carlo Fontana (1634-1714), Alessandro Specchi (1668 - 1729)

Templum Vaticanum et ipsius origo cum aedificiis maximè conspicuis antiquitùs, & recèns ibidem constitutis; editum ab equite Carolo Fontana ... opus in septem libros distributum ... Romae, Ex typographia Jo: Francisci Buagni, 1694 / Il Tempio Vaticano e sua origine, con gli Edificii più cospicui antichi, e moderni fatti dentro, e fuori di esso. Descritto dal cav. Carlo Fontana ... Opera divisa in sette libri ... In Roma, nella stamperia di Francesco Buagni, 1694.

§ Folio; [16] ll., 489 (1) pp., [14] ll.; 78 (of 79 ?) engr. full page (9 large, fold.) ills. 4 of the fold. plates follow the page numbering (after Cc and Bbb) but are not included in the register. Sign.: ad1-4, A-Z1-4, Aa-Cc1-4, Dd1-2, Ee-Zz1-4, Aaa-Fff1-4, Ggg (missing), Hhh, Iii and Kkk are each a single fold. plate, Lll-Vvv1-4, Xxx1-6. In Y, Ee and Hh one leaf is part of a fold. plate, wich corresponds to more pages also in the numbering. Some pages misnumbered. The portrait, apparently included in few copies only, is not present. 2 title pages and 2 dedication (in Latin and Italian), titles and text within woodcut frame, parallel text on 2 columns in Latin and Italian; woodcut coat-of-arms on title pages, woodcut initials. 19th century vellum, spine gilt and red title-piece on spine. End-papers and headbands renewed. Few pages a little browned but a very good copy. The  (perhaps) missing plate Ggg and the following one Hhh are practically identical, with the second a bit more detailed than the first. one Ggg is also missing in several other copies and a possible explanation is that Hhh was meant a a cancel of Ggg.

First edition. Beautifully illustrated report of the construction of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, engravings by Alessandro Specchi from Fontana's drawings. This astonishing production was commissioned by the Sacred Congregation for the Fabric of St Peter's, to justify the expense incurred for the rebuilding of the Basilica. It is unproved that Carlo Fontana belong to the family of the famus architect Domenico Fontana who, appointed architect of St. Peter's by Pope Sixtus V in 1585, oversaw the completion of the dome. Carlo Fontana worked with Pietro da Cortona and Bernini. Probably thanks to the close collaboration with Bernini Fontana obtained in 1664 the prestigious position of "misuratore della Rev. Fabrica di S. Pietro" ("measurer of the Rev. Fabrica di S. Pietro") and, about two years later, alongside Felice Della Greca, that of "secondo misuratore e stimatore di tutti gli edifici della Camera apostolica in Roma e nello Stato della Chiesa" ("second measurer and appraiser of all the buildings of the Apostolic Chamber in Rome and in the State of the Church" (Bertolotti, cited by Hager)). The architect and engraver Alessandro Specchi was a pupil of Carlo Fontana and his main collaborator for the illustration of the works published between 1692 and 697, the Templum Vaticanum, being the most famous one. "Incluso da Lione Pascoli (Vite de' scultori ed architetti moderni, II, Roma 1736, p. 549) tra gli allievi di Carlo Fontana, ne fu il principale collaboratore per le incisioni dei volumi di architettura pubblicati tra il 1692 e il 1697, a partire dal Tempio Vaticano dato alle stampe nel 1694 ma in gran parte compiuto già nel 1687 (Hager, 2003)". (Manfredi).

The work, divided into seven books, describes the history of St. Peter's (the original site, the basilica constructed by Emperor Constantine, the transportation in 1585 of the obelisk to its present site, the square and Bernini's oval colonnade) and of its construction, discusses the cost in comparison with the Temple of Solomon and finally compares St. Peter's with the Pantheon and the Duomo in Florence.

"The Templum Vaticanum caused a sensation in the contemporary art world; it was ardently discussed, for instance, in the correspondence of the director of the French Academy in Rome for the next two years. The publication was an ambitious visual, intellectual, and typographic enterprise" (Millard). "The work begins by incorporating Domenico Fontana's plates on the moving of the obelisk, and then surveys the vanished Constantinian basilica in plan and section. One of the plates is a superimposed plan of the new basilica over the old, which is in turn superimposed over the circus of Gaius and Nero, with a numbered guide to the hundreds of altars and shrines which had to be moved and reconsecrated in the new church. Fontana was a faithful student of Bernini, and he includes plates which he alleges represent Bernini's plans for the prolongation of the piazza, not only through the addition of the terzo braccio but also through the demolition of the blocks of houses that made up the spina or backbone of the Borgo. In an interesting piece of late baroque archaeology, Fontana reconstructs the delicate, arched structure which, he feels, represents the original Pantheon before Agrippa's overlay of ornamental and structure-concealing forms" (Avery's Choice).

& Helmut Hager, in: Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani (https://www.treccani.it/enciclopedia/carlo-fontana_%28Dizionario-Biografico%29/ ); A. Bertolotti, Artisti lombardi a Roma..., Milano 1881, ad IndicemTommaso Manfredi, in: Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani (https://www.treccani.it/enciclopedia/alessandro-specchi_%28Dizionario-Biografico%29/ ); Lione Pascoli Vite de' scultori ed architetti moderni, II, Roma 1736, p. 549; Helmut Hager, Carlo Fontana e il "Tempio Vaticano", in: G. Curcio (editor) Il Tempio Vaticano 1694. Carlo Fontana, Milano 2003, pp. XXXIV-LV; Berlin Kat. 2678; Fowler 122; Millard, Italian Books 38; Avery's Choice 59.



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Auction closed