Paris. Circa 1803. Edition: First Paris edition. , Binding: Contemporary half green straight-grain morocco over blue marbled paper boards. Spine with 5 raised bands, decorative gilt rolls and motifs in compartments, title in gilt on brown label in 2. All edges yellow. , Notes: Text in Italian.
A very good example containing three related works on Lake Albano and the monumental feat of engineering that is the draining outlet (emmissarium) located on this lake, which Piranesi thought the Romans constructed in 398 BC believing that lowering lake levels would help them win in their siege against Veii (Wilton-Ely, 668). Containing numerous plans, sectional diagrams, etchings of various architectural fragments and capitals, and some of Piranesi’s “most dramatic vedute” (Wilton-Ely, 668).
Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720 – 1778) was a prominent Italian Classical archaeologist, architect, and artist, famous for his etchings of Rome. Although he was the son of a stonemason and studied structural and hydraulic engineering, Piranesi is best remembered for his monumental etchings, which demonstrate this lifelong interest in architecture and design.
Piranesi’s architectural interest in Lake Albano, demonstrated in these three works, was greatly encouraged by Pope Clement XIII, to whom Antichità is dedicated (Wilton-Ely 694). In Antichità, “Piranesi extended his illustrative techniques of combining emotive vedute with highly technical, and often speculative, diagrams on aspects of Roman construction” (Wilton-Ely 694).
In the Emissario, Piranesi turns his focus to a major feat of (what he believed to be) Roman engineering: the emissarium, or draining outlet, of Lake Albano (668). When the Romans were laying siege against Veii in 398 BC, they sought to lower the lake level in response to an oracle that claimed they would be victorious against Veii should they do so (Wilton-Ely 668). “Within a year they had dug an outlet in the form of a tunnel, five feet high by three feet broad…The fact that this epic feat was achieved some two and one-half centuries before the conquest of Greece encouraged Piranesi to devote all his graphic skills to revealing the ingenuity of construction as well as the triumphant survival of this work, which still remained in use” (Wilton-Ely 668). The plates reveal “cross-sections, reconstructed elevations and modern views of the inlet and outlet structures,” some of which are drawn in such an elaborate scale as to require large fold-out plates to accommodate the detail (Wilton-Ely 668).
Wilton-Ely notes that while Piranesi was working on Emissario, he also spent much time investigating other antiquities nearby, paying particular attention to a few caves with “ornamental interiors created by the romans” (680). Spelonche was created as a kind of appendix to Emissario as a result.
, Size: Large Folio (555 x 415mm), Illustration: Containing 26 plates, including 1 large fold-out plate and many double-page. Antichità with 10 plates: title plate, dedication plate, 12, 19, 20, 21, 23, 25, 26, and 27 (often unnumbered); lacking 19 plates and dedication text.
Emissario with 7: title, 1-4, 6, and 8; lacking 3.
Spelonche with 9: 1, 3-7, 10, 11, and 12; lacking 3.
, References: John Wilton-Ely, Piranesi: The Complete Etchings, vol. 2, pp. 668-727., Pages: Blank (2). Half title [Antichità]. Blank (2). Dedication plate (2). Blank. Antichità: P. 1 – 26. Emissario: P. 1 – 13. Blank. Explanations for plates of Emissario (5). Printer’s note. Spelonche: P. 1 – 5. Explanations for plates of Spelonche (4). Printer’s note. Plates [Antichità; Emissario; Spelonche]. Blank (3)., Category: Book Europe Italy; Book Art, Architecture & Design;. Some marks to boards, edges worn. Corners bumped. Some pages with minor spotting. Plates otherwise clean and crisp, strong impressions. Item #B6771