Breve quadro descrittivo della nascente Raccolta-Sozzi in Bergamo ossia Collezione Numismatica-Callitecnica-Naturale. Paolo VIMERCATI SOZZI.
Breve quadro descrittivo della nascente Raccolta-Sozzi in Bergamo ossia Collezione Numismatica-Callitecnica-Naturale
Breve quadro descrittivo della nascente Raccolta-Sozzi in Bergamo ossia Collezione Numismatica-Callitecnica-Naturale
Breve quadro descrittivo della nascente Raccolta-Sozzi in Bergamo ossia Collezione Numismatica-Callitecnica-Naturale
Breve quadro descrittivo della nascente Raccolta-Sozzi in Bergamo ossia Collezione Numismatica-Callitecnica-Naturale
A Visitor’s Handbook to the Collezione Vimercati-Sozzi in Bergamo
Illustrated with Folding Lithograph of this Unusual Museum of Artifacts
A Presentation Copy Given to the Archeologist-Epigrapher Giovanni Labus
[Museology] / [Art] / [Archeology].
Bergamo, Dalla Stamperia Mazzoleni, 1840.

Breve quadro descrittivo della nascente Raccolta-Sozzi in Bergamo ossia Collezione Numismatica-Callitecnica-Naturale.

8vo [21.7 x 13.9 cm], 70 pp., (1) p. blank, with a folding lithograph, errata slip pasted on lower blank. Bound in original printed wrappers. Some wrinkling and edge wear to wrappers, stamp of Biblioteca Labus (see below) on front cover. Presentation inscription to Giovanni Labus on front flyleaf (playfully signed ‘Il Navigatore,’ presumably by Vimercati-Sozzi), Labus library stamp on blank upper margin of title page, the occasional minor internal spotting.

Rare first and only edition of the antiquary Conte Paolo Vimercati-Sozzi’s (1801-83) guide (1840) for visitors to his recently opened museum in Bergamo, an intriguing instance of the Kunst- and Wunderkammer tradition of collecting persisting well into the 19th century in parallel with the rise of modern museology. Preserved in its original printed wrappers, this copy is a presentation volume inscribed to the prolific and influential archeologist Giovanni Labus (1775-1853), certainly on the occasion of his visiting the collection. The work is arranged not so much as a comprehensive record of the holdings of the museum, but as a handbook intended for consultation while perusing the galleries in person, and this focused, somewhat ephemeral intended use likely contributed to the work’s low survival rate today. The guide is also illustrated with a fine folding lithograph view of the interior of the Collezione Vimercati-Sozzi that gives an impression of the arrangement of the extensive and varied holdings of the museum, which was dissolved in the 1860s.

Vimercati-Sozzi here leads the visitor room by room, cabinet by cabinet, beginning with descriptions of items in the entryway and with notes about labelling, arrangement of objects, and the like. The collection was classified into 25 categories, which generally focused of the material-technical quality of art objects, with necessary subclassifications sometime sorting items chronologically or geographically. Vimercati-Sozzi, who is known to have been an expert of fossils, arranged his collection less as a showcase for natural wonders than as a monument to the wide variety of human craft worked upon various natural material. Galleries were divided into Sculptural and Pictorial Arts, with Sculptural Arts comprised of numismatics, carved gems, intaglio and relief carving, metal inlay, repoussé, carved and molded sculpture, bas-relief, and fusoria (foundry products like glass and cast metals). Pictorial Arts were categorized as preparatory sketches, finished pen drawings, painting (on numerous supports), miniature painting, enamel, maiolica and decorated porcelain, mosaic, lace, printmaking, printed books, and manuscripts. Also treated were archeological finds (Etruscan, Egyptian, Roman, Early Christian), natural history (shells, fossils, etc.), and there was an intriguing section devoted to the arts and crafts of China.

Vimercati-Sozzi’s comments on items are at once brief and chatty: He manages both to give the visitor/reader both a comprehensive picture of the collection and to highlight items of special rarity, beauty, or personal importance, and he even at times discusses how he came to a particular identification or admits when he is unsure what a piece is or how it was made. Vimercati-Sozzi was an expert on the local history and art of Bergamo, and he unfailingly identifies Bergamasque connections to relevant items (e.g., that a fine piece of lacework was made by the local noblewoman Fulvia Scotti). While some aspects of Vimercati-Sozzi museological thinking were perhaps rather antiquated by the 1840s, others, namely his focus on technology and technique, were in line with new international trends in art classification (e.g. at the Victoria and Albert [South Kensington] Museum, opened in 1852) and thus the Collezione Vimercati-Sozzi perhaps warrants further study to better understand its place in the history of museums.

Conte Paolo Vimercati-Sozzi donated many books and manuscripts in 1869 to the city of Bergamo (they are housed in Biblioteca Civica), and his heirs dispersed many of the museum’s remaining art objects at auction at Milan in 1893. Vimercati-Sozzi published widely on fossils (e.g., Sulle belemniti d’Entratico, 1848), archeology (e.g., Illustrazione della raccolta preistorica d’epoca della pietra, 1875; Lapide romana sterrata nella provincia di Bergamo, 1866), and numismatics (e.g., Ritrovamenti numismatico-archeologici Suardi e Volpi, 1866; Sulla moneta della città di Bergamo nel secolo decimaterzo,1842). It is natural that such a scholar as great archeologist-epigrapher Giovanni Labus (see DBI, vol. 63 [2004]), to whom this copy is dedicated, would have visited the Collezione Vimercati-Sozzi when in Bergamo and been presented with a copy of the collection guide by the curator himself. The present volume carries the stamp of the Biblioteca Labus, which was divided and partly dispersed in the twentieth century (see Esplugail, p. 667).

OCLC locates just two U.S. institutional examples of this work (National Gallery of Art and Illinois).

* Bibliografia italiana, vol 6 (1840), no. 1229; Catalogo della collezione del conte Vimercati Sozzi di Bergamo (da vendersi per conto degli eredi) (Milan, 1893); P. Vimercati Sozzi, Dono Sozzi alla città di Bergamo; Xavier Esplugail, “Perduto manoscritto ‘abusiano’ di Felice Feliciano,” Aevum, vol. 85, no. 3 (2011), pp. 663-88.

 

Price: $1,850.00

See all items in Rare Books
See all items by