"Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae": A bespoke album of 43 plates, compiled and bound ca. 1675. Nicolas ROME. Beatrizet, Étienne Dupérac, Ambrogio Brambilla, artists, active.
"Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae": A bespoke album of 43 plates, compiled and bound ca. 1675
"Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae": A bespoke album of 43 plates, compiled and bound ca. 1675
"Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae": A bespoke album of 43 plates, compiled and bound ca. 1675
"Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae": A bespoke album of 43 plates, compiled and bound ca. 1675
"Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae": A bespoke album of 43 plates, compiled and bound ca. 1675
"Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae": A bespoke album of 43 plates, compiled and bound ca. 1675
"Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae": A bespoke album of 43 plates, compiled and bound ca. 1675
"Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae": A bespoke album of 43 plates, compiled and bound ca. 1675
"Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae": A bespoke album of 43 plates, compiled and bound ca. 1675
"Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae": A bespoke album of 43 plates, compiled and bound ca. 1675
"Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae": A bespoke album of 43 plates, compiled and bound ca. 1675
"Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae": A bespoke album of 43 plates, compiled and bound ca. 1675
"Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae": A bespoke album of 43 plates, compiled and bound ca. 1675
"Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae": A bespoke album of 43 plates, compiled and bound ca. 1675
"Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae": A bespoke album of 43 plates, compiled and bound ca. 1675
"Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae": A bespoke album of 43 plates, compiled and bound ca. 1675
"Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae": A bespoke album of 43 plates, compiled and bound ca. 1675

"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' Rossi, ca. 1587-, 1675.

Price: $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. Mattei, Innocenzo (1626-1679); Giorgio Widman (1672-1682) - Map "Tavola Esatta dell antico Latio e 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) - Seven Major Churches of Rome to be visited during Jubilee. Rome, Giovanni Marco Paluzzi, after 1657.
5. After Giovanni Ambrogio Brambilla? (active 1579-1599) - Trajan's Column, with the coat of arms of Pope Sixtus V. Rome, Giovanni Giacomo de' Rossi, ca. 1650. This and the following 5 plates apparently based upon engravings by Giovanni Ambrogio Brambilla, published by Nicolaes van Aelst in 1589.
6. After Giovanni Ambrogio Brambilla? (active 1579-1599) - The Column of Antoninus Pius after the restoration ordered by Sixtus V in 1589. Rome, Giovanni Giacomo de' Rossi, ca. 1650
7. After Giovanni Ambrogio Brambilla? (active 1579-1599) - The Egyptian obelisk positioned in front of Santa Maria Maggiore during the pontificate of Sixtus V. Rome, Giovanni Giacomo de' Rossi, ca. 1650
8. After Giovanni Ambrogio Brambilla? (active 1579-1599) - 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
9. After Giovanni Ambrogio Brambilla? (active 1579-1599)- View of the Egyptian obelisk of Thutmose III, re-erected at the Lateran by Domenico Fontana during the pontificate of Sixtus V. Rome, G.G. de' Rossi, ca. 1650
10. After Giovanni Ambrogio Brambilla? (active 1579-1599)] - View of the Egyptian obelisk erected in 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, after 12 June, 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, after 12 June, 1651.
13. Giovanni Ambrogio Brambilla (active 1579-1599), after - Section and elevation of the Colosseum in Rome. Rome, Nicolaes van Aelst, ca. 1600 (Brambilla’s original was pub. by Duchet in 1581). Marigliani II.7
14. Nicolas Beatrizet (1507-1565) - The Pantheon. Rome, Nicolaes van Aelst, about 1582. Marigliani II.46
15. Anonymous - The Porta Maggiore. Rome, Hendrick van Schoel, ca. 1610 (a close copy of Salamanca’s print of 1538). Marigliani III.10
16. Anonymous - The Arch of Janus on the Forum Boarium. Rome, Hendrick van Schoel, 1613-1622 (1st state by Tomasso Barlacchi in 1550). Marigliani III.3 (1st state)
17. Anonymous - Temple of Antoninus Pius and Faustina. Rome, Hendrick van Schoel, ca. 1602 (1st state by Antonio Lafreri in 1565). Marigliani II.50 (1st state)
18. Giovanni Ambrogio Brambilla (active 1579-1599) - Baths of Agrippa (imaginative reconstruction). Rome, Giovanni Orlandi, 1590 (1st state by Duchet in 1585).
19. Giovanni Ambrogio Brambilla (active 1579-1599), after Pirro Ligorio (1512-1583) - Baths of Diocletian and Maxentius (reconstruction). Rome, Hendrick van Schoel, ca. 1615 (1st state by Duchet in 1582). Marigliani II.10 (1st state)
20. Anonymous - Pyramid of Caius Cestius. Rome, Nicolaes van Aelst, ca. 1589 (dated 1549 in the plate, ultimately derived from Lafreri’s print of 1547). Marigliani II.49
21. Anonymous - Mausoleum of Hadrian (reconstruction). Rome, Nicolaes van Aelst, ca. 1600. Marigliani II.33
22. Giovanni Giovanni Ambrogio Brambilla (active 1579-1599) - Castel Sant'Angelo. Rome, Nicolaes van Aelst, ca. 1586-1590. Marigliani VII.7
23. Étienne Dupérac (ca. 1525-1604) - Mausoleum of Augustus. Rome, Hendrick van Schoel, ca. 1620 (1st state by Lafreri in 1575). Marigliani II.34 (1st state)
24. Nicolas Beatrizet (1507-1565), after Pirro Ligorio (1512-1583)  - The Circus Maximus. Rome, Pietro de' Nobili, 1584-85 (prev. pub. 1582 by Paolo Graziano, ultimately derived from a pre-1553 print by Bolognino Zaltieri). Marigliani II.15, note.
25. Giovanni Ambrogio Brambilla (active 1579-1599) - Port of Ostia. Rome, Hendrick van Schoel, 1622. (1st state Duchet, 1581) Marigliani II.2 (1st state)
26. Nicolas Beatrizet (attributed) (1507-1565), after - Statue of the River God Marforio in the Forum Romanum. Rome, Giul. Rub., late 16th or early 17th c. (but attrib. to de Rossi by Hülsen; ultimately derived from Lafreri’s print of 1550 attrib. to Beatrizet). Marigliani V.60
27. Nicolas Beatrizet (attrib.) (1507-1565)- The sculptural group representing Menelaus supporting the dying Patroclus, known as Pasquino. Rome, Nicolaes van Aelst, ca. 1582-1613 (ultimately derived from Enea Vico’s print, Lafreri 1550.) cf. Marigliani V.56 (Lafreri’s print)
28. Anonymous - The Emperor Commodus dressed as Hercules (Hercules and Telephus). Rome, Marcello Clodio, 1587-88 (ultimately derived from a print by Salamanca, 1542). cf. Marigliani V.47
29. Nicolas Beatrizet (1507-1565), after - Statue of Meleager. Rome, Hendrick van Schoel, 1622. (a reverse copy of Lafréri’s print, 1555). cf. Marigliani V.49
30. Pieter Perret (1555-1639), after - Diomedes with the Palladium in his left hand. Rome, Hendrick van Schoel, ca. 1620. (a reverse of the original issued by Duchet, 1581.) cf. Marigliani V.51
31. Enea Vico (1523-1567) - Venus and Amor. Rome, Giovanni Orlandi, 1602-1613 (1st state by Lafreri in 1561). Marigliani V.30 (1st state)
32. Nicolas Beatrizet (1507-1565)  - The “Cesi Roma” (Roma Victrix, Numidian captives). Rome, Hendrick van Schoel, ca. 1620 (1st state by Lafreri in 1549). Marigliani V.54 (1st state)
33. Philippe Thomassin (1562-1622) - Two satirical prints on unequal love and foolish lovers. Extremely rare. Rome, Philippe Thomassin, between 1589 and 1622. (See Catalogue des estampes, dessins et cartes composant le Cabinet des estampes de la Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal, par Gaston Schéfer, 1894, n° 210 (29)
34. Anonymous - Mithras killing the bull. Rome, Hendrick van Schoel, ca. 1620 (1st state by Lafreri in 1564). Marigliani V.13 (1st state)
35. Anonymous - Statue of Romulus and Remus being suckled by the she wolf. Rome, Nicolaes van Aelst, ca. 1610.
36. Étienne Dupérac (ca. 1525-1604), after - Capitoline Hill. Rome, Giovanni Battista de' Rossi, 1650. Marigliani VI.9
37. Nicolas Beatrizet (1507-1565)  - Façade of Palazzo Farnese (publisher unknown – van Aelst’s name removed. 1st state Salamanca, 1562). Marigliani VI.20 (1st state)
38. Nicolas Beatrizet (attributed) (1507-1565)  - Cortile of Palazzo Farnese. Rome, Giovanni Battista de' Rossi, ca. 1670 (1st state by Lafreri, 1560). Marigliani VII.21
39. Bartolomeo Ammenati (1511-1592), after - Courtyard of the Villa Giulia. Rome, Hendrick van Schoel, ca. 1620. (1st state Lafreri ca. 1553) Marigliani VI, 27 (1st state)
40. Giovanni Ambrogio Brambilla (active 1579-1599), after Piero Ligorio (1513-1583) - The reconstruction by Pirro Ligorio of the aviary of Marcus Varro. Rome, Hendrick van Schoel, ca. 1620 (first known state by Duchet, 1581). Marigliani II.36 (1st state)
41. Anonymous - La Girandola (fireworks over Castel Sant’Angelo). Rome, Nicolaes van Aelst, ca. 1600. Marigliani VII.11
42. Anonymous – Processions and rites of Pope Clement X. Rome, Giovanni Giacomo de' Rossi, 1670.
43. Anonymous- The procession from the Vatican to the Lateran for the papal "Possesso" (with the arms of Clement X in the escutcheon). Rome, Giovanni Battista de' Rossi, 1670.

Bibliography: 1. Marigliani, “Lo Splendore di Roma nell’Arte incisoria del Cinquecento”, Edizioni Tipografia Marina (2016); 2. Rubach, “Ant. Lafreri Formis Romae: Der Verleger Antonio Lafreri und seine Druckgraphickproduktion” (2016); 3. For Hülsen numbers please see individual entries in Marigliani and Rubach.

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