ANTOLINI, Giovanni Antonio. Projetto sul Foro Bonaparte che doveva Eseguirsi in Milano in 24 Gran Tavole. Title-page and suite of twenty-four plates, comprising 14 magnificent double-page aquatint views printed in shades of sepia ink and 10 double-page engraved floor-plans and scaled architectural drawings. Large folio, 572 x 440 mm, bound in full contemporary Italian boards. Milan: Bettalli, ND .
A splendid copy of these magnificent plates. These grand aquatint views document an imposing project that was never constructed and never proceded beyond the publication of various issues of these plates. The scale and design of the buildings and plazas evoke the visionary work of Antolini's celebrated contemporaries: Claude-Nicolas Ledoux and Etienne-Louis Boullée. Antolini provided the drawings for all the plates except one, which was executed by Alessandro Sanquirico; the engravings were cut by Fernando Albertolli, Filippo Antolini, Giuseppe Cariani and others.
The history of the publication of Antolini's project is complex. First, two individual plates were printed, consisting of a view accompanied by an architectural plan. Then, the series, consisting of twenty-four plates was offered by subscription, including modified versions of the two previously issued plates. Another version was issued in September of 1804. In 1806 the work was re-published by the Bodoni printing firm as: Descrizione del Foro Bonaparte. The Bodoni bibliography lists this volume as: 16 pages text, 24 plates. However, the recorded copies of this book, at the Getty Institute, Florida State University and the University of Illinois, have the 16 pages of text, but none has any plates. Our conclusion is that Bodoni only published the text, and never completed the edition of text and plates as planned and described in the bibliography.
Our version, the last published, of Antolini's work was issued by the firm of Fratelli Betalli in 1814, entitled: Progetto sul Foro che doveva eseguirsi in Milano: in 24 Tavole in Rame/ del Architetto Professore Giovanni Antolini. None of the copies of this publication which are recorded in RLIN and OCLC contains any text. In consulting with the Getty Institute (which has copies of both re-issued versions: the Bodoni & the Fratelli Betalli), it seems likely that the Fratelli Betalli publication is, in fact, a remainder issue of the original aquatint plates printed in Milan 1801-04!
All versions of these spectacular plates are extremely rare. OCLC records copies only at the National Gallery, CCA, Columbia, and the Getty. No copy listed in any of the standard references. It is certainly curious that such a substantial production, published purportedly in several versions, survives in so few copies.
Berlin Catalogue 2649; Cicognara 3937.
See Scotti, A. Il Foro Bonaparte, 1989, and Westall, Antolini's Foro Bonaparte in Milan, in the Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes,Volume 32, 1969.
Item nr. 168399