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The Drawings Of Mauro Tesi
A Luxurious Catalogue
With An Orginal Drawing
For The Work Tipped-In

. TESI, Mauro Antonio [Bologna, [1787]]
Raccolta di Disegni Originali…Estratti da Diverse Collezioni…Aggiuntavi la Vita dell’autore Folio [28.5 x 41.5 cm]. (1) f., [16] pp., 42 aqua-tint plates variously printed in sepia, sanguine or blue-grey ink, most signed Gaetano Gandolfi after Tesi, 1 large engraved vignettes in preliminaries. Offered with the original drawing for plate XXVIII tipped in. Bound in contemporary quarter calf and marbled papers over boards. Spine and edges of covers frayed or a little torn. Some light foxing on title and in margin of scattered leaves, some minor soiling in blank margin of a few others, but otherwise very good.

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Rare first edition of this luxurious catalogue of drawings and other works by the Bolognese artist and scenic designer Tesi, of interest for the reception of the Palladian revival (plates ii-vi) and Piranesi (plates ix, xxxii-iii, xxxviii) in northern Italy. In part, a belated memorial to the artist, who died young in 1766, the work reproduces 42 original drawings of architectural designs (capricci and vedute, theatre decorations, baldacchini and other apparatus for funeral fetes), and is printed in a variety of inks; the owner of each drawing at the time of publication is indicated in the caption, thus flattering the patron. In fact, it happens that a single person owned 18 of the drawings reproduced, that of Conte Cesare Massimiliano Gini, and it is this same Gini who signs the dedicatory preface, suggesting that motives for the work’s production may not have been entirely disinterested.

The drawings represent both projects that were realized and sketches (“primi pensieri”). The use of a variety of colored inks throughout a single book is unusual in Italian publications of this date; like the medium of aquatint, it was presumably meant to imitate the quality of the drawing. Also included is a life of the artist, and a catalogue of Tesi’s engravings as well as those by others after him. This copy of the Raccolta has been enriched by an unknown amateur with the original drawing of plate 28; at the time of publication, it belonged in the collection of the Bolognese artist Pio Panfili(1723-1812), a painter of views and ornamental decorations as well as an engraver.

Tesi (1730-1766) received some formal instruction in Bologna but was largely self-taught. He worked as both a decorative and an architectural painter in a variety of media, in churches and both public and private buildings in Bologna, Pistoia and Florence. With a single exception—the frescoed chapel of SS Sacramento in S. Martino Maggiore—his major commissions as a painter no longer exist. He is best known for his on-going collaboration with the Newtonian polymath Francesco Algarotti, whose books he illustrated. He also designed Algarotti’s tomb (shown in plate 23 in the present work.) “The collaboration between Tesi and Algarotti played a decisive role in determining the earliest stages of the Neo-classical style in Bologna, of which Tesi was considered an early proponent.” – DA xxx.520.

NUC records LC, NYPL and Columbia. OCLC adds Stanford, Pratt Institute and Harvard. Note: in some records, the medallion portrait of Tesi (our first plate) is bound before or after the title.

Berlin 2644; Cicognara 863; Dictionary of Art XXX.520-21 (unsigned); modern facsimile (Farnborough House 1970); Bologna, Museo Civico, Architettura, scenografia, pittura di paesaggio (1979).

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