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FONTANA, Domenico (1543--1607)
Della trasportatione dell'obelisco Vaticano et delle fabriche di nostro signore Papa Sisto V fatte dal cavallier Domenico Fontana architetto di Sva Santita libro primo ...
In Roma appresso Domenico Basa, 1590.
[2], 108 [i.e. 111], [4] leaves : engr. t.-pl., add. engr. t.-pl., [38] engr. pl. (3 fold. double-page), [1] engr. illus. ; 40.3 cm. (2°)

Title from first engraved title-plate which is signed at the foot of the imprint 'Intagliato da Natal Bonifatio da Sibenicco'. It is followed by an added engraved title with a portrait of Fontana, his arms at the foot and those of Sixtus V at the head, reading 'Del Modo Tenvto Nel Trasportare L'Obelisco Vaticano. E Delle Fabriche Fatte Da Nostro Signore Sisto V. Libro Po.' with Sibenicco's signature line in Latin dated 1589. The engraved and letterpress leaves are numbered in a single sequence, with the addition of engraved leaves 66 secondo, 75 secondo and 76 primo. Leaves 65 and 75 secondo are folded double-page engravings; leaves 97 and 98 form a single double-page plate. At foot of T3 is a blind impression of the headline for the left-hand pages, as noted by Mortimer in all 3 Harvard copies. The plates were engraved by Bonifacio after drawings by Fontana himself, not by Giovanni Guerra to whom they are commonly ascribed. The only exception is plate 75 secondo showing the obelisk in Piazzsa del Popolo which was probably drawn by Guerra. It was engraved by Bonifacio and issued separately in Rome in 1689. See the reprint of Fontana's work edited by Adriano Carugo with an introduction by Paolo Portoghesi, Milan 1978. Soane regarded 'Fontana's account of the great engineering feat of moving the obelisk to its present position in front of St Peter's in Rome as 'so interesting that I cannot help giving it in Abstract', which he did in his twelfth RA lecture in 1815. (D. Watkin, Sir John Soane: Enlightenment thought and the Royal Academy lectures, Cambridge 1996, p. 662).

Copy Notes Soane evidently used the copy of Fontana's book in the Royal Academy in preparing his lectures, as his own copy was not acquired until 4 October 1822, from T. & W. Boone for 16s. (Priv. Corr. XVI.E.4.7). Ink and pencil booksellers' marks on both pastedowns. The Soane copy has the double-page plate numbered 97--98 bound as a folded plate. This copy was bound for the French humanist scholar Nicolas Claude Fabri de Peiresc (1580--1637) who assembled one of the foremost private libraries of his day in Aix-en-Provence, probably the Parisian binder Simon Corberan, who became his librarian and was among the first to include the publication date on the spine of his bindings. See J.-M. Arnoult, 'Les livres de Peiresc dans les collections parisiennes', Revue française d'histoire du livre 24 (1979), pp. 591--609.

Binding C17th full red morocco, upper and lower covers with gilt-tooled panels containing the gilt-stamped device of Nicolas Claude Fabri de Peiresc (see above), spine gilt-tooled and gilt lettered with publication date.

Reference Number 5587


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