Rome: Giovanni Bouchard, 1750. Broadsheets (537 x 370 mm). Letterpress title-page printed in red and black with the vignette by Louis-Joseph Le Lorrain, portrait of Piranesi by F. Polanzani, frontispiece (Robison 1) and 16 plates of the Prima Parte di Architetture, Second Edition, First Issue (R. 2, 3, 5, 15-18, 6-12 [all numbered], 20, 19 [not numbered]); frontispiece of Vedute di Roma (Hind 2, First State), two double-page plates printed in two separate halves on two sheets; Pianta di ampio magnifico Collegio (R. 25), state II as usual, double-page; the four double-page plates of the Groteschi (R. 23, 24, 22, 21), Second Edition, First Issue; Parte di ampio magnifico Porto (R. 26), state III, double-page.
All very fine impressions, watermark Fleur-de-Lys in Single Circle (R. 4, dated early 1750s), Contemporary Italian vellum, gilt-lettered on spine, edges stained red. Spine partly split; some occasional minor spotting, generally in very good condition. Provenance: purchased from Marlborough Rare Books, 1968. From the Collection of Arthur & Charlotte Vershbow. Item #401784
A VERY FINE AND EARLY SET OF THE FIRST COLLECTED EDITION, FIRST ISSUE, following the separately printed Prima parte of 1743-49. Piranesi wished “to offer a challenge to the mediocrity of the architectural scene in Rome” (Wilton-Ely), and the fantastical works of architecture and perspective in the Opere varie matched his ambition. He in part shows the influence of architect and scene-painter Ferdinando Galli da Bibiena, and the four plates of the Groteschi are more influenced by Tiepolo than anything else in his body of work. But the genius is Piranesi’s alone. Two important plates in this work are the Parte di ampio magnifico porto and Pianta di ampio magnifico collegio which inspired young architects of the time. Among them were Académie pensionnaires like Charles de Wailly (1729-1798) and Marie-Joseph Peyre (1730-1785). Piranesi’s drawings provided new design ideas and represented a new creative path in architecture. Though they remained archaeological, the images juxtaposing elements derived from Antiquity with archaic figures and archetypes derived from Egyptian and Etruscan repertoires (see Fatma pek EK, The Archaeological Sublime: History and Architecture in Piranesi’s Drawings, 2006). Horace Walpole wrote of Piranesi’s masterful inventions: “He piles palaces on bridges and temples on palaces, and scales Heaven with mountains of edifices” (Anecdotes of Painting in England, IV, 1771, p. vi). See Andrew Robison, Piranesi: Early Architectural Fantasies, Washington/Chicago, 1986, p. 212 (this copy cited). According to Robison, the watermark found in the present copy is the earliest watermark to possibly occur in the Opera Varie (see his pencil inscription on pastedown, dated 12/69).
Bound with: PIRANESI. Antichità Romane de'Tempi della Republica, Parte Prima & Parte Seconda. Rome, 1748.
FIRST EDITION. “THESE EXQUISITE PLATES ... MAY BE CONSIDERED AMONG THE ARTIST'S GRAPHIC MASTERPIECES” (WILTON-ELY). A fine copy with wide margins of Piranesi's etchings of the antiquities of Rome and of monuments outside Rome, preceding his similarly named magnum opus. Piranesi's archaeological interests are evident not only in the historical accuracy of the views, but in the 2 plates recording inscriptions on monuments which precede the views. These etchings “possess a unity of and range of experiment lacking in the Varie vedute and even in the early plates of the larger Vedute di Roma, which probably overlap this series in time. [The plates] show strong evidence of Tiepolo's decisive influence on Piranesi during the latter's return visit to Venice in the mid-1740s, together with the first signs of certain compositional ideas which were to be transferred to the larger Vedute in the next decade” (Wilton-Ely, p.144). This series is based upon Piranesi's sketches made during travels in both Rome and Italy between circa 1743 and 1747. Hind p.75; Focillon pp. 287-290; W.-E. 108-118 and 120-133.
Broadsheets. 30 etchings, comprising 2 etched part-titles [W.-E. 103 and 119], dedication leaf [W.-E. 104], leaf of inscriptions [W.-E. 105], leaf of inscriptions and index [W.-E. 106], and 25 plates [including the “Arco di Galieno”] by G.B. Piranesi after G.B. Piranesi  and Israel Sylvestre .