PIAZZETTA, Giambattista. La Gerusalemme Liberata. By Torquato Tasso. , 254 (i.e., 258) ff. Illustrated with an allegorical frontispiece, title vignette, dedicatory portrait of Maria Teresa by Polanzani after Piazzetta, 20 full-page engraved plates surrounded with etched ornamental borders, 20 half-page headpieces containing the "argomenti" to each Canto, 20 culs-de-lampe, 22 historiated initials, and the full-page double portrait of the artists and printer at the end. Folio, 452 x 315 mm, bound by the Albrizzi firm in the deluxe presentation style reserved for subscribers, in contemporary Venetian red morocco, central armorial within large rococo block and intricate floral corner pieces gilt-extra, special Albrizzi mottled paper endpapers, a.e.g. Venice: Giambatista Albrizzi, 1745.
First Edition, First Issue, of the masterpiece of eighteenth-century Venetian book illustration. This copy has the plates in the unaltered state; the large illustrations have the dedications at the foot of the plates, the rococo scrolls are present at the foot of the culs-de-lampe, the portrait of the younger Maria Theresa is present in the first state, the borders vary ABABAB, and the tailpieces are printed full-page. All of these elements were changed in the second edition.
The importance of this work would be difficult to over-emphasize; in a time when the production of deluxe books in Venice reached its apogee, this stands out as the grandest example. It also serves as the paradigm of the Venetian pastoral style of artistic expression in book form.
Morazzoni states: "It is apt to consider the most beautiful illustrated book, the Gerusalemme Liberata by Piazzetta. Piazzetta proceeds from miracle to miracle -- gives a bold proportion and transforms vignettes into the first real decorative etchings, which occupy a full-page..." Lanckoronska singles out the vignettes, which she declares are especially inspired genre scenes with shepherds, animals, nudes, and richly clad Venetian ladies, with a broad sunlight playing on their silken robes. Even the historiated initials contain impressive, lovely scenes of putti and shepherds.
This wide-margined copy is preserved in one of the deluxe Albrizzi presentation bindings especially executed for subscribers. The volume is perfectly clean throughout, with sharp impressions of the Piazzetta engravings. Binding with expert repairs to extremities and to spine; overall condition is excellent.
PROVENANCE: (Ludo-) Vico de Gobbis, his woodcut bookplate with motto "Je fus sage je fus fou" by Venetian artist Alberto Zanverdiani (ca. 1948-55) on front pastedown; ink presentation inscription in Italian dated 1 October 1870, to a D'Alessandro, on front fly-leaf; and an unidentified armorial bookplate pasted above.
Morazzoni 256. Lanckoronska 240. Gamba 285. See especially George Knox, Tercentenary Exhibition of Draw-ings, Prints and Books of Piazzetta, Washington, National Gallery of Art, 1983, passim. Robison, The Glory of Venice No. 80.
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Issue points of the First Edition: Point #1 1st issue has borders surrounding full-page plates alternating ABABABABA -- Point #2 1st issue has tailpiece vignettes with full-page platemarks -- 2nd issue is same as 1st except has the older Maria Teresa instead of the 1st issue younger portrait. 3rd issue has the border sequence randomized. 3rd issue also has vignettes with small reduced platemarks.-- Second Edition has no dedications below large plates and the vignettes completely changed, nude bodies now clothed, etc. Ut Robison. *************
Item nr. 166968