The Earl of Essex’s copy of Blaeu’s Town Book of Rome and the Lazio region

By BLAEU, Johannes, 1663 
£75,000
£45,000

Theatrum civitatum et admi- randorum I: Civitatum et admirandorum Italiae pars prima — II: Civitatum et admirandorum Italiae pars altera, in qua urbis Romae admiranda aevi veteri et huius seculi con- tinentur.

World
  • Author: BLAEU, Johannes
  • Publication place: Amsterdam
  • Publisher: Johannes Blaeu
  • Publication date: 1663.
  • Physical description: 2 vols., folio; first volume, engraved allegorical frontispiece (here bound after half-title), general title-page, dedication to Pope Alexander VII, imperial privilege, volume title-page, address to the reader and half-title, 254 pp., index, and 74 engraved city maps, views and monuments, mostly on double page, on unnumbered leaves; second volume, engraved forntispiece and title, 54 pp., half-title, 40 pp., 316 pp., 50 pp., index, with 41 engraved plates depicting maps of Rome and monuments, also on unnumbered leaves, both volumes red ruled, clean tear to first half-title of vol. I, repaired blank lower corner of plate devoted to Norcia. contemporary Oxford red morocco, with triple gilt panels and floral corner-pieces, gilt floral decoration, lozenges and titles to raised bands of spine, all edges gilt, gilt cover edges and inner dentelles, original marbled pastedowns and endpapers, rear covers, corners and lower extremities lightly rubbed.
  • Inventory reference: 15131

Notes

First edition of Blaeu’s celebrated Latin town atlas of Rome and Lazio region. The two volume were issued together and should stand as such. The same year, Blaeu also published a volume devoted the kingdoms of Naples and Sicily. The first volume lavishly illustrates and describes the splendind historical sites once scattered throughout the Papal States in alphabetical order, from Ancona, Ascoli, Assisi and Avignon to Bologna, Cesena, Gubbio, Fabriano, Fano, Faenza, Ferrara, Imola, Loreto, Macerata, Orvieto, Perugia, Pesaro, Rimini, San Marino, Spoleto, Todi, Tivoli, Viterbo and Urbino. It opens with an overview of Baroque Rome, including a remarkable map of the city with the emblems of the 14 rioni.

The second volume focuses on the beauties of the Eternal City, beginning with a double-page map of the ancient Rome and dwelling in particular on theatres, stadia and obelisks. The latter subject is elucidated in its historical aspects and connections with the ancient Egypt, providing interpretations of the hieroglyphics (including Kircher’s) and illustrating in detail, amongst the other examples, Bernini’s Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi and the transportation of the Vatican obelisk in 1586 (the latter in an exquisite series of 14 plates, featuring two folding ones on four pages). All faces and inscriptions of the Roman obelisks are carefully depicted, mostly relying on Kircher. 

Provenance

1. Algernon Capell, 2nd Earl of Essex PC (1670–1710), bookplate dated 1701 to verso of general title-page and at foot of title-page of vol. II.
2. Cremonini, bookplate to front pastedown of vol. II. 

Bibliography

  1. Koeman, BL 72–73. Kissner 49 (only vol. II, wanting late 10).
    • Koeman, C. (1967). Atlantes Neerlandici. Amsterdam: Theatrum Orbis Terrarum. 6 vols.

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