The Castel Sant’Angelo is an imposing cylindrical building and one of Rome’s most prominent landmarks. The building takes its name from a legend in which the Archangel Michael appeared above the building to end the plague of 590 AD. A marble statue of the angel was placed atop the building in 1536, replaced by a bronze version in 1753 that remains there today. Centuries of modifications to the building have left no traces of Emperor Hadrian’s original mausoleum, which was converted into a fortress in the 3rd century. Later, the popes built a covered fortified corridor connected to the Vatican palaces to be used as an escape route, a treasury room to safeguard their valuables, and a storage area for food and water in the event of an attack. The Castel was also notoriously used as a prison, where Giordano Bruno and Benvenuto Cellini were jailed. Today the National Museum of Castel Sant’Angelo retraces its rich history for visitors to Rome.
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).
Claude Duchet (also known by the Italian name Claudio Duchetti) was an Italian printseller and publisher. He inherited half of the plates of his uncle, the engraver and publisher Antoine Lafréry, and also commissioned plates from artists such as Perret, Thomassin and Brambilla. Upon his death in about 1585, his firm was operated by his brother-in-law Giacomo Gherardi as “Claudii Ducheti Heirs” until his son Claudio reached the age of majority.
Nicolas Beatrizet was a French engraver active in Italy during the first half of the 16th century.
Inscription: EN TIBI QUISQUIS ES LECTOR IUCUNDISSIME QUEM AENEIS NICOLAI BEATRICII LOTHARINGI PERELEGANTER FORMIS REPRAESENTATA ROMANOR[UM] CAESARUM AEDIFICIA DELECTANT IMP[ERATORIS] CAESARIS HADRIANI AUG[USTI] EFFIGIATUM HAUD INEPTE MAUSOLEUM QUOD ET BONIFACIUS NONUS E TOMACELLA FAMILIA PONT[IFEX] MAXIMUS PRIMUS OMNIUM IN CASTRI FORMAM COMMUNIIT IDQ[UE] ETIAM POST ILLUM ALEXANDER BORGIUS SEXTUS HUIUS NOMINIS PONT[IFEX] MAX[IMUS] CAROLI VIII GALLORUM REGIS CONSILIO IN HANC QUAM VIDES ADMIRANDE MUNITIONIS FORMAM REDEGIT. VALE.
Translation [by University of Chicago]: Behold, whoever you are most agreeable reader, whom the structures of the Roman Caesars, represented elegantly in the images in bronze of Nicolas Beatrizet, and the mausoleum of the emperor Caesar Hadrian, portrayed not at all foolishly, delight. Pope Boniface IX, first of all men, strengthened the form of the castle and after him, Alexander Borgese VI, on the advice of King Charles VIII of the French, reduced this form of the impressive fortifications, which you see.
Condition: Generally very good with the usual overall light toning and wear. Few soft creases and few printers creases not obtrusive. No margins; cut to ruled border, as is typical with old master prints of this period. On laid paper, watermark of six-point star in a shield.
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.
“(A26) Castle of Sant’Angelo.” University of Chicago Library. http://speculum.lib.uchicago.edu/view.php?id=speculum-0026-001&title=(A26)%20Castle%20Of%20Sant’Angelo (29 August 2012).
“(A46) Castle of Sant’Angelo.” University of Chicago Library. http://speculum.lib.uchicago.edu/view.php?id=speculum-0046-001&title=(A46)%20Castle%20Of%20Sant’Angelo (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.
“Castel Sant’Angelo.” Wikipedia. 24 August 2012. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castel_Sant’Angelo (29 August 2012).
“Castel St. Angelo: The Hadrian’s Mausoleum.” Italy Guides: Rome. http://www.italyguides.it/us/roma/castle_st_angelo/castel_st_angelo.htm (29 August 2012).
“Castello S. Angelo di Roma.” British Museum. http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/search_the_collection_database/search_object_details.aspx?objectId=1427179&partId=1 (29 August 2012).
“Claudio Duchetti.” British Museum Collection Database. http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/search_the_collection_database/term_details.aspx?bioId=92428 (24 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).