PATCH, Thomas. The Life of Frá Bartolommeo della Porta, a Tuscan Painter, with his Works engraved from the original Pictures, dedicated to the Honorable Horace Walpole.  pp., illustrated with 24 etched and engraved plates printed in black, red or ochre. [Florence: Thomas Patch, 1772]. BOUND WITH:
Al Nobil uomo il signore Bernardo Manetti patrizio fiorentino Tommaso Patch dedica questi monumenti dell' antico splendore di sua famiglia in segno di obligazione edistima.  pp., illustrated with 12 etched and engraved plates printed in black or ochre. [Florence: Thomas Patch, 1772] . BOUND WITH:
To the Ho'nble Sir Horace Mann, Bart, Knight of the most Ho'nble Order of the Bath ... the following life of the celebrated painter Masaccio, with some specimens of his works in fresco at Florence is most humbly dedicated. [iv] pp., illustrated with 26 etched and engraved plates printed in black. Folio, 455 x 380 mm, bound in original paper covered boards, professionally rebacked and recornered. [Florence: Thomas Patch, 1770].
First editions, very rare. The present volume comprises three suites of etched and engraved plates. The first reproduces 24 plates of panel paintings and frescoes attributed to Fra Bartolornmeo (1472?-1517); ten of these are now in the monastery of San Marco, Florence. The second reproduces 12 frescoes now attributed to Spinello Aretino (d.1410/11) but which in the author's day were thought to be by Giotto. This series is of particular importance, being the only record of Aretino's fresco cycle in the Manetti chapel in Santa Maria del Carmine, Florence, which was destroyed (save a few fragments some of which Patch came to own) as a result of a fire on 28-29 January 1771. Patch reproduces the compositions of the damaged frescoes, carefully rendering, in two plates, the underlying sinopia where the painted surface had become detached. The third suite reproduces 25 plates by Masaccio (1401-1428) . These are portrait heads traced from frescoes and reduced and engraved.
These are the earliest reproductive prints after these artists and "were doubtless a contributory influence in the rise of a taste for pre-Renaissance painting in England" (Watson, p. 27) . Maser places Patch at "a turning point in the study of art" where Italian artists before Raphael began to be appreciated for their own merit. In Maser's view Patch's attempts at careful visual documentation are "enough to earn him a place, a small one perhaps, but a secure one nevertheless, among the pioneers of Kunstwissenschaft." (ibid, p. 198)
"Patch, an intelligent and original artist with a sharp eye and a louche disposition, spent 35 years in Italy, mostly in Florence where he lived across the street from Horace Mann. . . in 1770, with the publication of The Life of Masaccio, he embarked on a plan to publish books of engravings 'after every celebrated author.'" (Ingamells, A Dictionary of British and Irish travelers in Italy 1701-1800, pp. 745-6) . The present volumes followed, but the ambitious project was then abandoned and Patch's next and last publication was a volume on Ghiberti's bronze doors to the Baptistery in Florence.
All three suites are rare. Evidence cited by Watson suggests that only forty sets of the Fra Bartolommeo and 'Giotto' series were issued before the plates were destroyed. OCLC locates six copies of 'Fra Bartolommeo' (Morgan; Getty; NGA; Yale; Harvard; Huntington). We can locate no copies of the 'Giotto' or 'Masaccio' suites. Nice clean and fresh copies printed on high quality paper.
Bogislav Winner, Quaritch Cat. 1406:61. F. J. B. Watson, "Thomas Patch (1725-1782)" in The Walpole Society Annual Volume 28 (1939-40) pp, 15-50. See also: Edward A. Maser, "Giotto, Masaccio, Ghiberti, and Thomas Patch" in Festschrift Klaus Lankheit 1973, pp. 192-199.
Item nr. 167025