Click main image below to view enlargements and captions.

Antiquity, Pompeii Frescoes, Grand Tour, Colorplate Book, Naples, 1878


Geremia Discanno (1840-1907) (after)
Emile Presuhn (1844-1881) (text and map drawings)
Victor Steeger (chromolithographer)
Les Plus Belles Peintures De Pompei
[The Most Beautiful Walls of Pompeii]

Victor Steeger, Naples: c. 1878
30 chromolithographic prints
Quarto, red cloth covers
12 x 9.5 inches

A collection of 28 lovely colorful chromolithographic prints of ancient Roman fresco walls and mosaics excavated at Pompeii, after drawings by Discanno. In addition, two chromolithograph maps of the site are included — one highlighted with recent excavations from 1874-78, after drawings by Presuhn, an archaeologist. According to a preface and a price list that accompanied a related English edition of the work, a larger number of plates were offered as single sheets or collected in three separate volumes in English, German, French and Italian as Grand Tour souvenirs during the late 19th century. There is no text or title page for this particular volume; perhaps the plates were purchased as single sheets and then bound for the collector.

Product Description Continues Below.


Beginning in 1758, there was great popular interest in the ancient Roman art discovered with the excavation of the ancient cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, which had been preserved as if frozen in time when they were buried by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD.In the age before photographic color images, drawings, prints and paintings of frescoes served as souvenirs for the great libraries of Grand Tour travelers and patrons and provided inspiration to neoclassical architects and decorative art designers.

Emile Presuhn was a German archaeologist who lived in Italy for eight years. He collaborated with the Italian artist Discanno and Naples-based chromolithographer Victor Steeger to make exact copies of many wall paintings that are now lost. Presuhn wanted to make these works of artistic and historic significance available to designers and design students as inspiration at an affordable price. The results of this collaboration were published in a few different collections of plates, including The Most Beautiful Walls of Pompeii (1877) and The Wall-Decorations of Pompeii, for Artists, Art Schools and the Lovers of Antiquity (Leipzig: 1878). The latter work had 24 color plates, numerous black-and-white ones and an accompanying text by Presuhn.

Geremia Discanno (sometimes spelled Di Scanno) was an Italian genre and landscape painter, especially of scenes of ancient Rome. Born in Barletta, he came to Naples in 1860 and studied at the Instituto di Belle Arti. He further developed his work in Florence with the assistance of a stipend from the province. Discanno was known for his drawings recording the excavations of Pompeii and was appointed inspector of the archaeological site. His works are in the collection of the Museo Civico of Barletta.

Condition: Generally very good — the colors rich and bright — with the usual light overall toning, wear, and handling. Some tissue guards dampstained; colorplates plates free from similar staining except marginal stain to first colorplate and last map. Light edge wear to ffep (front free endpaper). Covers with usual scattered toning, wear, abrasion, discoloration. Some internal joints cracked, but contents still tight and connected.


Bénézit, E. Dictionnaire critique et documentaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs. France: Librairie Gründ, 1966. Vol. 3, p. 277.

“Mural from unidentified building in Pompeii.” Superstock. 2014. (20 March 2014).

Presuhn, Emile. Les Décorations Murales de Pompéi. Leipzig: T.O. Weigel, 1878. Online at Forgotten Books: .pdf (20 March 2014).

Steeger, V. and E. Presuhn. The Most Beautiful Walls of Pompeii Reproduced in Chromolithography, Vol. 3. Torino, Rome and Florence: Hermann Loescher, 1877. Online at Google Books: (20 March 2014).

Additional information


19th Century