Rome: Presso l'autore ... e presso Neg[ozi]o [Giovanni] Scudellari, 1824-, 1826.
Oblong Folio: 76.4 x 54 cm. , 2,  letterpress lvs. and  unnumbered plates. Plate measurements: Horizontal plates 342-483 x 462-730 mm.; Vertical plates 550-669 x 435-503 mm.
FIRST EDITION, FIRST ISSUE (before the numbering of the plates).
An excellent copy bound in the original publisher’s binding of three-quarter vellum and marbled paper over thick boards, the vellum portions with repeating decorative tools, gilt (corners bumped, light soiling and wear.) The plates are in excellent condition, the impressions rich and sharp. Aside from a long tear in the front endpaper and numerous creases to the printed half-title, the copy is very fine. The 73 full-page etched and engraved plates comprise a title plate, 3 divisional title plates, and 69 vedute, architectural plans, and reconstructions.
Rossini’s exceptional views of the architecture and landscape of Rome’s environs. The plates (with the exception of plate 40) were etched by Rossini between 1824 and 1826 and published by the author and Giovanni Scudellari. Each etching is signed and dated at the foot of the plate. The letterpress, dated 1826, was printed by Vincenzo Poggioli.
There are 73 full-page etched and engraved plates, including a general title (plate 1) and 3 divisional title plates. Plate 41 is the divisional title plate for “Antichità Di Cora"; pl. 49 is the divisional title plate for "Antichità Di Albano E Castel Gandolfo"; and pl. 64 is the divisional title plate for "Le Antichità Di Preneste E Del Tvscvlo"). Plates 39 and 40 are placed face à face to form together a large plan of Tivoli; plate 39 is signed by Rossini as draftsman and dated Rome, 1826 ("L. Rossini dis. dir. e termino. Rome 1826"), and plate 40 is signed by Luigi Ricciardelli as engraver ("L. Ricciardelli inc."). The remaining plates are signed by Rossini as draftsman and engraver, and bear dates ranging from 1824 to 1826. The plates are preceded by 5 leaves of letterpress, including a half-title and Rossini’s Aviso to the reader.
Luigi Rossini was the last of the great artists to produce large-scale etched views (vedute) of the monuments and landscapes of Rome and wider Lazio. His inspiration was the undisputed master of such images, Giovanni Battista Piranesi, and it was he that the young Rossini set out to emulate even as he developed his own artistic style and identity. Rossini’s artistic and philosophical objectives –and therefore the images that he produced- were markedly different from those of Piranesi. His images reflected the new realities of the post-Napoleonic era, and reflected the development of a more modern, scientific archaeology, expressed in extraordinarily beautiful and powerful images.
Expanding on his corpus of Roman views published 1819-1823, in “Le Antichità Dei Contorni Di Rome, Ossia Le Piv Famose Citta Del Lazio”(The Antiquities of Rome’s Surrounding Environs, or, the Most Famous Cities of Lazio), Rossini presents us with the monumental remains of Roman architecture as well as atmospheric landscapes, including Hadrian’s villa, the Temple of the Sibyl, and the great falls at Tivoli; the imposing Temple of Hercules at Cori (ancient Cora), the ruins of the grand nymphaea at Castel Gandolfo (15 plates), and the Sanctuary of Fortuna at Palestrina (ancient Praeneste), the most important Hellenistic-style sanctuary in Lazio.
Fifty of the images have been enlivened with figures in contemporary dress by the prolific Bartolomeo Pinelli, with whom Rossini collaborated from 1817 until Pinelli’s death in 1835. We see well-dressed tourists, laborers chatting up women, mule-drivers, residents cooking for eager children, site-seers picnicking, musicians and dancers, coaches driving along thoroughfares, a couple walking their dogs, monks in conversation, an old man contemplating a book, women harvesting grapes, etc. Rossini himself appears -at work- in some of the plates.
“In the preface to his ‘Antichità da contorni di Roma’, Rossini refers to the archaeologists Antonio Nibby and Carlo Fea as his living sources for the historical background of his illustrations. The volume is divided into four parts corresponding to the sites depicted. Thus there are forty plates of Tivoli, eight plates of Cora, fifteen plates of Albano and Castel Gandolfo, and ten plates of Praeneste and Tuscolo. This is the first publication in which Rossini includes a brief introduction and a list of illustrations with extended captions. Several of the plates are based on his own surveyed and measured drawings. He claims that what he is offering, in contrast to other topographic artists in Rome, is a painterly perspective view (‘prospetticamente alla Pittorica’) and that his drawings are accurate and based on historical documentation.
“His formal adherence to Piranesi is still evident in the accentuated chiaroscuro, the choice of subjects and the ways in which they are framed, and the composition of the part-title pages in which architectural and archaeological fragments are mixed in apparent disorder. However, both the quality and the quantity of the light in his views counters the darker Piranesian approach in its quest for a contemporary reality. This greater reality is enhanced by his frontal viewpoints, which are more expository than Piranesi's, and the presence of Pinelli's Roman folk who concretize and render mundane the monumentality of the architecture. Rossini's staffage occasionally takes on sources other than Pinelli. In the view of the thermal hall in Hadrian's villa, there are echoes of Poussin in one woman being attacked by a serpent and the silent scream of another approaching at a run. Often Rossini puts himself inside his pictures, in coat and hat carrying a portfolio and a folding chair. His smooth stones are stylistically consistent with the late empire costumes of his figures, and his vegetation is entirely different from Piranesi's, lush rather than recently incinerated.
“Rossini's view of the temple of the Sibyl in Tivoli offers a captivating inventory of his personal means of representation. He illustrates textured travertine, smooth marble, and crumbling rubble masonry sprouting vegetation in the diffused light of early afternoon. It is a quiet and thoughtful picture that includes local women chatting by the parapet, a studious male visitor, and a domineering guardlike figure in the shadow of the colonnade. The fluting of the Corinthian columns' shafts provides the strongest lines, surrounded by the varied textures of exposed rubble masonry, stained stones, tiles, and broken marble ornaments. His part-title page for the section on Albano shows antiquities piled in front of an opus quadratum wall, with the text inscribed in the lintel of an elaborately carved door case. Marble fragments and vegetation are gently stacked together, rather didactically illustrating by juxtaposition the sources of ancient ornamental forms. Though the statue aids the gaze by pointing and the various portrait and metaphorical figures appear vision-endowed, this is an orderly, static composition, more like a storehouse than a dangerous, unexpected find.”(Millard Catalogue, p. 364-365)
“While remaining within the context of the veduta, Rossini never ceased documenting the archaeological remains with scholarly accuracy, introducing some substantial innovations compared to previous interpretations. By depicting yet again the landscapes and monuments of Rome and its surroundings, while recording the most picturesque and distinctive aspects of its everyday life, his work moved closer to a Romantic vision, while seeking to present an extremely meticulous documentation based on studies of the sources and direct examination of the latest discoveries, illustrating the restoration work being carried out, reconstructing the plans and elevations of buildings and sites, so making him a protagonist of the cultural elaboration of Rome in the early nineteenth-century.
“Through his landscape and archaeological views, Rossini interpreted Rome as a privileged place for objective, scholarly and poetic evocations, translated into etchings with the utmost technical virtuosity, and disseminated through the powerful expressive medium of print.”(Nicoletta Ossanna Cavadini, ‘Rossini Architect and Engraver: from views of antiquities to the Romantic spirit’ in “Luigi Rossini, Il Viaggio Segreto”, 2014)
Provenance: George Fredrick Nott (1767-1841), clergyman and literary editor. “In his parishes he repaired rectories and built new schoolhouses, but this enthusiasm for architecture later led to his (literal) downfall. As prebendary of Winchester he superintended repairs to the cathedral, and on 6 January 1817, while thus engaged, he fell a distance of some 39 feet, injuring his head”, and never fully recovered. His library, sold in Winchester in 1842, contained some 12,500 volumes.”(Oxford DNB).
Millard, Italian 116; BAL RIBA 2847; Berlin Katalog 1917