Farnese Palace, Rome
Architectural Print from Speculum Romanae, 1560

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Farnese Palace engraving
Farnese Palace engraving

Detail of the two statues of Hercules. The one at left resembles a classical statue now in the collection of the Louvre, and the one at right is recognizable as the so-called Farnese Hercules

See also these engravings from Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae:

Belvedere Courtyard, Vatican, Rome

Belvedere Courtyard, Vatican

Castel Sant'Angelo, Rome

Castel Sant'Angelo

Circus Maximus, Rome

Circus Maximus

Castel Sant'Angelo, Rome

Dioscuri at the Quirinal

Porta Maggiore, Rome

Porta Maggiore

Farnese Palace engraving Farnese Palace engraving
Farnese Palace engraving

Detail of the Farnese Palace upper stories (left) and of handwritten inscriptions in the lower margin (above) and verso (below).

Antoine Lafréry (1512-1577) (publisher)
Palatii Farnesii Romae
[Farnese Palace, Rome]

from Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae
Rome: 1560
Engraving, uncolored
15.5 x 19.75 inches, image
17.5 x 23 inches, overall, with later margins
Provenance: James Lamantia, Jr.
Sold, please inquire as to the availability of similar items.

Engraving depicting an interior courtyard of the Farnese Palace in Rome, which was built for the Farnese family in 1515 according to a design by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger and expanded by Michelangelo in 1534 after Alessandro Farnese became Pope Paul III.  Two statues of Hercules flank an arched entrance through which a garden view is glimpsed.

This print was published by Lafréry as part of Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae, a massive compilation that aspired to document nearly every extant monument in Rome.  The British Museum has two impressions of the Lafréry version and the University of Chicago has in its collection a later 1585 version by his nephew and heir, Claude Duchet.  Both versions may be viewed online (see References below). Duchet inherited half of Lafréry's plates in 1577 and apparently had this one re-engraved, also changing the inscription lower right from "formis Antoni Lafrerij Sequani. M. D. lx," as it appears on the one shown here, to "formis Claudij Ducheti Romae 1585."

The Palazzo Farnese, or Farnese Palace, is one of the most important Renaissance palaces in Rome. Its architecture has inspired other buildings around the world, including the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C.  Today it serves as the French Embassy in Italy.  The two statues of Hercules featured in this engraving may have been copies of classical statuary (the caption calls them "exact images").  The one on the right is recognizable as the so-called Farnese Hercules, a 3rd century Roman sculpture copied from a 4th century BCE original by the ancient Greek sculptor Lysippos or one of his circle.  It was recovered from the Baths of Caracalla in Rome by Alessandro Farnese and moved to the Farnese Palace in 1546, where it stood in its own room for generations.  In 1787, the statue was moved to Naples and now is in the Naples National Archaeological Museum.  The statue on the left strongly resembles a Hellenistic or Roman bronze reduction of Hercules found at Foligno, Italy, and now in the collection of the Louvre.

Antoine Lafréry (also known by the Italian name Antonio Lafreri) was a French printseller and publisher, and possibly also an engraver, who moved to Italy and was active in Rome from around 1540 until his death in 1577. His firm published maps and a wide range of prints: ancient and modern Rome, portraits, ornament and mythological, historical and religious subjects.  He also bought and sold drawings, coins and medals.  Among Lafréry's publications were two architectural treatises and several sets of ornament prints, including Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae (c. 1540-c.1565).  According to the subtitle of Speculum, it had the most accurately drawn representations of nearly all the extant monuments of the City of Rome; in the 1570s, the Lafréry catalogue listed some 500 subjects. Speculum did not have fixed contents; each copy was unique and varied in terms of the number of pages, subjects included, and even the printers and engravers.  Moreover, later collectors also added prints to earlier sets.  The University of Chicago holds the largest extant collection of Speculum, which may be viewed online on its web site (see References below).

Inscription: Palatii Farnesii Romae non procul a reliquiis Theatri Pompeij olim e solidissimo Tiburtino lapide non minore architecturae comendatione ab Antonio Sagallo inchoati, quam stupendo artificio per Michaelem Angelum omnibus numeris consumati quantum, artificio diligentia assequi potuit interioris partis expressio atq. in intimo eius ambulacro duaru Herculis statuar icones formis Antoni Lafrerij Sequani. M. D. lx.

Translation: Farnese Palace in Rome, not far from the remains of the former theater of Pompeii, made of the strongest Tiburtine stone, begun by the architect Antonio Sagallo the Younger and completed by Michelangelo…in the lower promenade, exact copies of two statues of Hercules…

Notes: Hercules figures apparently very slightly colored umber/yellow.  No margins; cut to ruled border, as is typical with old master prints of this period; but later re-margined with matching laid paper (apparently in the 19th century or so).   Manuscript academic description in faded ink pen in lower supplied margin and on verso.   On laid paper, watermark eagle in a circle with a crown.

Provenance: James Lamantia, Jr. (1923 - 2011).  At the time of his death, Lamantia was Emeritus Professor of Architecture at Tulane University in New Orleans.  He was also a practicing architect and an artist.


"(A72): The Farnese Palace." http://speculum.lib.uchicago.edu/search.php?search%5B0%5D=farnese+palace&searchnode%5B0%5D=all&result=2 (29 August 2012).

"Antoine Lafréry." British Museum Collection Database. http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/search_the_collection_database/term_details.aspx?bioId=118308 (24 August 2012).

Bénézit, E. Dictionnaire critique et documentaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs. France: Librairie Gründ, 1966. Vol. 5, p. 355.

"Claudio Duchetti." British Museum Collection Database. http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/search_the_collection_database/term_details.aspx?bioId=92428 (24 August 2012).

"Farnese Hercules." Wikipedia. 30 August 2012. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farnese_Hercules (30 August 2012).

"Palazzo Farnese." Wikipedia. 30 June 2012. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palazzo_Farnese (29 August 2012).

"Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae." University of Chicago Library. http://speculum.lib.uchicago.edu/content/introduction.html (24 August 2012).

"Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae Roma nell’incisione del Cinquecento." Mandragora Publishing House. 2005-2012. http://www.mandragora.it/en/speculum-romanae-magnificentiaebrroma-nellincisione-del-cinquecento-en.html (24 August 2012).

"Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae / Palatii Farnesii Romae." British Museum. http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/search_the_collection_database/search_object_details.aspx?objectid=3135130
&currentPage=1 (29 August 2012).

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