LEONARDO DA VINCI. Del Cenacolo di Leonardo Da Vinci libri quattro. By Giuseppe Bossi. 263,  pp. With a frontispiece portrait of Leonardo and 6 plates (including 3 printed in bistre) executed after Leonardo's drawings by G. Benaglia, G. Longhi and F. Rosaspina. Folio, 435 x 280 mm, bound in contemporary, Italian, deluxe red straight-grained morocco, covers framed with gilt fillets, spine elaborately gilt, green silk doublures and endpapers, turn-ins gilt, a.e.g. Milan: Stamperia Reale, 1810.
Exquisite copy in deluxe morocco binding of the First Edition of the most important scholarly monograph on Leonardo's Last Supper published hitherto, still essential. "Bossi's monumental Del Cenacolo di Leonardo Da Vinci libri quattro, printed in 1810, contains precious observations on Leonardo and on the copies that Bossi examined" (Pietro Marini, Leonardo: The Last Supper p. 27). This controversial work was praised by Cicognara, yet criticised by Ugo Foscolo and Carlo Verri; and yet it was through Bossi's efforts and popularization of Leonardo's Last Supper that a visit to Milan became considered de riguer for European travelers; for instance, both Stendhal and Goethe owned (and annotated) a copy of Bossi's monograph, and both made the requisite pilgrimage to see Leonardo's mural.
After making a replica of Leonardo's Last Supper for Eugène de Beauharnais (Napoleon's stepson and viceroy of Italy), Bossi released this ambitious and learned publication which documented every known facet of the painting; included are detailed records of "repairs" (i.e., overpaintings) to which the mural had been subjected, as well as descriptions of Napoleon's own reverence for the painting ("In 1796... he ordered that [the refectory] be respected and not be used as lodging for troops or damaged in any other way"). Unfortunately the Napoleonic decree was not observed and Bossi relates that "the refectory having served as warehouse or haymow, always in military use... the Last Supper continued to be damaged, even by powerful blows from slabs leaned against the figures, which left traces that are still visible[!]. Bossi played the essential role in the valorization of Leonardo as the 'glory' of Lombard art, even if the Last Supper's preservation and conservation seem a vehicle for his personal ambitions" (Pietro Marini p. 26).
Giuseppe Bossi (1777-1815) was a draftsman, painter, academic, and administrator. A passionate archaeologist and book lover, he collected drawings, prints, paintings, coins, sculptures, and antiques. After his death, Bossi's superb collection of drawings was acquired by the Venetian Fine Arts Academy. Included were a number of important Leonardo drawings, among them the made-to-measure ''Vitruvian Man,'' one of the best-known Leonardo images, which appears in the present volume opposite page 208. Lower cover with 4" repair to leather, otherwise in very fine condition, internally immaculate.
PROVENANCE: Commendatore Giorgio Fumach, with his ex-libris.
Verga 298 ("Un monumento mirabile di erudizione e di critica"). Cicognara 3373. Predari p. 426. Thieme-Becker IV, 406.
Item nr. 94345