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267.VIRGIL (Publius Vergilius Maro). opera cum tabulis quæ extant in antiquo codice vaticano ad priscum imaginum formam incisis a Petro Sancte Bartoli. no imprint, but Rome, dated in ms. 1718.


Folio. Two vols (450 x 300 mm). French late eighteenth-century full mottled calf, the spines divided into seven compartments with raised bands gilt, the second compartment in each volume titled in gilt, the fourth in each volume with a green morocco and gilt label bearing the volume numbers, the remaining compartments decorated with gilt floral centre tools within a gilt roll-tooled border, green morocco and gilt label to the centre of the upper boards, gilt lettered, ‘F. GRoUvEL’, gilt decorative edges, marbled endpapers.

volume i: [2]ff., blank + 1f., allegorical frontispiece executed in pen and ink, inscribed in ink “Joannes Baptista Pucettus Romanus invènit & exaravit”, + 1f., half title executed in pen and ink, incorporating the Albani family monogram, [2]ff., ms. dedication to Pope clement xi, engraved architectonic title page from an earlier edition of Bartoli’s P. Virgilii Maronis Opera but with significant changes effected in pen and ink, these include differing title details in the central field, the engraved eagle to the left hand of the pediment burnished out and replaced with cross hatching, the centre of the pediment burnished out and replaced with the papal coat of arms of clement xi, the bases on either side of the fictive altar inscribed in ink, on the left-hand side, “Jacobus manzonus à S. Joseph Lusitanus cler. Reg. Scholar. Piar Scribebat Rome, 1718.” and on the right-hand side “Petr Sanct. Bartoli incid. Rome.1642”, [104]ff., paginated in ms. 208, + [2]ff., blank.

volume ii: [2]ff., blank + [113]ff., paginated in ms. 209-435 + [2]ff., blank.

The text of both volumes contained within a double-ruled ink border, oxidization of the ink of the border has in some cases caused perforations within the leaf. This is particularly so in the case of the first leaves of text in the first volume where the paper within the border is now almost completely detached. one or two similar cases are to be found in volume ii. The volumes illustrated with a total of 55 (vol i. 31; vol ii. 24), engraved plates by Pietro Santi Bartoli (1635-1700) after forty-nine of the illustrations within the early 5th century Codex Vergilius Vaticanus (cod. vat. Lat. 3225), and six from the codex vergilius Romanus (cod. vat. Lat. 3867), distributed throughout the text in the appropriate locations.

Provenance:Possibly Lieutenant-General François Grouvel (1771-1836). in addition to a distinguished military career that spanned the First Republic and the Second Empire, Grouvel was appointed chevalier of the Empire, 14 June, 1810, created a hereditary baron in 1816 and vicomte on 11, november, 1824 and appointed Grand officer of the Légion d’honneur in 1835. From 1795 to 1799 he was General chabot’s aide-de-camp and from 1795 to 1797 he took an active part in napoleon’s italian campaign.

An interesting and unusual marriage of finely executed calligraphy by Jacob (Giocobbe) manzoni, elegant pen and ink drawings by the Umbrian painter Giovanni Battista Pacetti (1693-1743), and the engravings of Pietro Santi Bartoli.

The Codex Vergilius Vaticanus is one of the world’s oldest surviving examples of classical literature containing fragments of virgil’s Aeneid and Georgics made in Rome in about 400. it is one of the oldest surviving sources for the text of the Aeneid and one of only three illustrated manuscripts of classical literature, the other two being the Vergilius Romanus and the Ambrosian iliad.

Upon its completion the vatican virgil appears to have remained in Rome for the next four centuries before turning up in the monastery of Saint-martin at Tours by the middle of the ninth-century. At some point in the fifteenth century the manuscript was back in italy, and by around 1514 it was once again in Rome. Some time after, it was acquired by Pietro Bembo, and was seen in both Rome and Padua, the location of the family villa. Following Bembo’s death in 1547, his son Torquato inherited the the library but gradually sold it off, the virgil being purchased by Fulvio orsini in 1579. At orsini’s death in 1600, his library, including the virgil, was left to the vatican. Between 1641 and 1642 camillo massini, later a cardinal and an important patron of Poussin and claude Lorrain, borrowed the manuscript with the express purpose of having a facsimile made of it, complete with watercolour illustrations copied by Pietro Santi Bartoli. Work appears to have been continuing on the facsimile, when massimi died in 1677 and in its fragmentary state it passed to his heir Fabio camillo massimi. This was subsequently bound up and is now in the British Library (Lansdowne mS834). in the same year Bartoli’s engravings of the illustrations of the Vergil Vaticanus and the Romanus were published without text.

The present volumes appear to be a maquette for a publication, that in all probability would have enjoyed a limited circulation, and would have brought together for the first time Bartoli’s engravings with an engraved text derived from the Vergilius Vaticanus. Evidence for this is in the fact that manzoni has been careful to supply pagination, signatures and catch words to each leaf. Pacetti’s pen and ink drawings, with traces of pencil underdrawing, are distributed throughout both volumes and are particularly precise and include the presence of the hatching and stippling associated with transferring the drawn image to copper plate for the purposes of etching and engraving. That this surely is the case is borne out by comparison with examples of Pacetti’s other work which is executed in a very free and bravura manner - earning him the nickname “Lo Sguazzino” - see (christie’s Sale 5019. Paris 27.ii.2003. Lot 83. La montée au Calvaire [?]).

SiX, Georges. Dictionnaire Biographique des Généraux & Amiraux Français De La Révolution Et De L’Empire (1792-1814); WRiGHT, David H. The Vatican Vergil. A Masterpiece of Late Antique Art. 1993.

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