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Architectural, Art, Alessandro Specchi, Palazzo Barberino, Antique Print Pair, Rome, c. 1699


Alessandro Specchi (1668-1729) (artist and engraver)
Porta Principale del portico del pian terreno dell facciata del Palazzo Barberino…
[Main Door of the Portico of the Ground Floor of the Facade of the Palazzo Barberino…]
Finestra del piano terreno dell facciata del Palazzo Barberino…

[Window of the Ground Floor of the Facade of the Palazzo Barberino…]
from Quarto Libro del Nuovo Teatro delle Fabriche, et Edificii, In Prospettiva di Roma moderna [Quarto Book of the New Theatre of the Buildings and Edifices, In Prospect View of Modern Rome]
Domenico de Rossi, Rome: c. 1699
Black and white engravings
20 x 15 inches, overall
$750, the pair

Pair of architectural studies depicting facades and architectural details from the Palazzo Barberini, Rome, a masterpiece in Baroque classical architecture. One shows the main door and the frieze decoration above it, designed by Gianlorenzo Bernini (1598-1680), incorporating the heraldic symbols of the Barberini: bees and the sun. The other print shows the ground floor window to the right of the central portion of the building, designed by Francesco Borromini (1599-1667). These engravings are from a series documenting the architecture of Rome by Alessandro Specchi, who was himself an architect as well as an engraver.

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The Palazzo Barberini is considered one of the finest aristocratic buildings in Rome. It was commissioned by Pope Urban VIII Barberini to be built in proximity of his residence on Quirinal Hill in order to have his family live nearby. The building was begun by Carlo Maderno, but completed by Bernini, who designed the central portion, and Borromini, who designed some of the small windows and the coat of arms. The palace has been home to the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica since 1895.

Alessandro Specchi was an Italian architect, urban planner and engraver. He studied architecture in the studio of Carol Fontana. He was the principal architect of the Farnese Piazza, the Bank of Rome, the Via del Corso and the famous Spanish Steps. Specchi began producing sets of architectural engravings from at least 1684, many of which were published by Giovanni Giacomo de’ Rossi (1626-1691), and his son Domenico de’ Rossi (act. 1684-1721). He composed 52 etchings for Quarto Libro del Nuovo Teatro di Palazzi di Roma (1699), a series of architectural studies of famous buildings in and around Rome. Also notable are 286 plates he did for Domenico de’ Rossi’s Studio d’Architettura Civile (1702-21), an architectural record of the city of Rome. The Calcografia Nazionale in Rome has some of the original plates from Nuovo Teatro in its collection.

Domenico de’ Rossi (1659-1730) was a publisher in Rome. Born Domenico Freddiani, he was adopted in 1679 by Giovanni Giacomo de’ Rossi, the most influential publisher in Rome in the second half of the 17th century, who made him his heir. Domenico ran the publishing house from about 1691. His first major work was the fourth volume of Nuovi Disegni delle Architetture e Piante dei Palazzi di Roma (1699), a continuation of one of Giovanni’s important works on Roman architecture. Subsequently he published the three-volume work for which he is best known, Studio d’Architettura Civile (1702-1721) a major study of recent architecture in Rome. That work proved highly influential, facilitating the development of an international Baroque style by introducing architects in other regions of Italy and abroad to Roman Baroque architecture. De’ Rossi also published other volumes documenting art, architecture and architectural decorations such as frescoes, including Raccolta di Statue Antiche e Moderne (1704), Disegni di Vari Altari e Cappelle nelle Chiese di Roma (1713) and Picturae Raphaelis Sanctii Urbinatis (1722). Around 1720, de’ Rossi turned management of the firm over to his son Lorenzo Filippo (1683-after 1735). In 1738, the family sold the publishing business to the Pope.

Condition: Generally very good with the usual overall light toning, wear, soiling, soft creases. Outer edges with minor chipping, to be matted out.


“Alessandro Specchi.” The Grove Dictionary of Art. New York: Macmillan. 2000. (23 August 2005).

Piperno, Roberto and Moore, Rosamie. “Piazza Barberini.” Baroque Rome in the etchings of Giuseppe Vasi. 1999-2003. (23 August 2005).

Additional information


17th Century