Descrizione dell’ arco inalzato dalla nazione Britannica sulla piazza della città di Livorno per l’ingresso fatto in essa il di XXVII. Dicembre MDCCXXXI. Ferdinando RUGGERI, Anton Francesco GORI.
Descrizione dell’ arco inalzato dalla nazione Britannica sulla piazza della città di Livorno per l’ingresso fatto in essa il di XXVII. Dicembre MDCCXXXI
Descrizione dell’ arco inalzato dalla nazione Britannica sulla piazza della città di Livorno per l’ingresso fatto in essa il di XXVII. Dicembre MDCCXXXI
Descrizione dell’ arco inalzato dalla nazione Britannica sulla piazza della città di Livorno per l’ingresso fatto in essa il di XXVII. Dicembre MDCCXXXI
Descrizione dell’ arco inalzato dalla nazione Britannica sulla piazza della città di Livorno per l’ingresso fatto in essa il di XXVII. Dicembre MDCCXXXI
Descrizione dell’ arco inalzato dalla nazione Britannica sulla piazza della città di Livorno per l’ingresso fatto in essa il di XXVII. Dicembre MDCCXXXI
Ruggeri’s Ephemeral Triumphal Arch at Livorno
British Merchants Look to Architecture to Curry Favor with Infante Don Carlos
Illustrated with 3 Fine Engravings by Ruggeri
Only 2 Examples in U.S. Institutions
[Architecture].
Florence, Nella stamperia di sua Altezza Reale, Per li Tartini, e Franchi, 1732.

Descrizione dell’ arco inalzato dalla nazione Britannica sulla piazza della città di Livorno per l’ingresso fatto in essa il di XXVII. Dicembre MDCCXXXI.

Folio [35.4 x 25.1 cm], 15 pp., (1) p. blank verso, III engraved plates (plate II is a double-page engraving), woodcut device on title page, title page printed in red and black. Half bound in shagreen and marbled paper. Some rubbing and edge wear to spine and boards. The occasional minor spotting, plate II trimmed just to platemark at upper edge, editorial correction in manuscript at p. 15.

Very rare first and only edition (just 2 examples in U.S. libraries) of an illustrated work describing the erection in 1731 of an ephemeral triumphal arch in Livorno designed by the Florentine architect Ferdinando Ruggieri (1687-1741) at the request of the English merchant community stationed there. The monumental arch, over 22 meters in hight, was the size of the Arch of Constantine and the Arch of Septimius Severus in Rome, was built to celebrate the arrival on the Italian Peninsula of the 15-year-old Infante Don Carlos (1716-88), future King Carlo III of Spain, who had just been named successor to (the ineffectual and heirless) Giovan Gastone (1671-1737), the last of the Medici rulers of Tuscany. Ruggeri’s Descrizione dell’ arco is an important record of this unusual commission, being an architect’s publication of his own temporary design for a structure commissioned by a foreign commercial interest to curry favor with juvenile foreign ruler soon due to arrive from abroad.

Ruggieri states in his introductory remarks that the Livorno project fell to him on very short notice and that the arch was built in only ten days. He says (pp. 3-4) that for the present commemorative volume he both wrote the description of the architecture and engraved the plates (presumably after his own drawings), while the arch’s statues, bas-reliefs, emblems, medallions, and mottoes (the last supplied by “un Signore Inglese”) were described by Anton Francesco Gori (1691-1757), famed antiquarian and professor of history at the University of Florence. Ruggieri’s fine double-page engraving depicts the arch in elevation, while two further engravings show the structure in plan and illustrate the allegorical images decorating the interior of the arch. “The stately structure ... was rectangular quadripartite with a sail vault in the crossing, the whole structure capped by a pediment inscription and scrolled volutes in place of the traditional attic story. In contrast to the simple form of the arch, the rich surface decoration and statuary referred to the infante and his mission, giving the structure a distinctly festive quality” (Deupi, p. 53). Epigraphic material is here provided in full, as are details about the arch’s construction (faux verde antico, fictive chiaroscuro inscriptions and bas-reliefs, etc.), its iconography, and the Infante’s visit to and inspection of the structure on 27 December 1731.

“Ruggieri was the most distinguished architect of Florence at a time when almost no new building took place and the greater talents, such as Ferdinando Fuga and Alessandro Galilei, had left to work elsewhere” (Millard, p. 373). He had recently made his name with the publication of his Studio d’architettura civile (1722-28), an extensive collection of illustrations of earlier Florentine architecture intended to revive good architecture through emulation. The occasional permanent architectural commission fell to him (e.g., façade of San Firenze [1715], the Palazzo Capponi in Florence, the Palazzo Sansedoni [1736] in Siena, and the collegiata [1738] of Empoli), as did other commissions for temporary or festival architecture (e.g., the catafalque in S. Lorenzo for the funeral of Gian Gastone in 1737). His remarks in the present volume (pp. 3-4) about the permanency of print as opposed to the ephemeral nature of architecture for preserving an architect’s designs are revealing, and this, more than the generally commemorative purpose typical of most festival books, would seem to be the impetus for the work’s publication.

Gian Gastone de’ Medici, the seventh and last Medicean Grand Duke of Tuscany, lacked a male heir. His father, Cosimo III, wanted the Electress Palatine to succeed Gian Gastone, but Spain, Great Britain, Austria and the Dutch Republic disregarded Cosimo’s plan and appointed Infante Don Carlos of Spain (whose mother, Elisabeth Farnese, was a great-granddaughter of Margherita de’ Medici) to be Gian Gastone’s heir. Thirty thousand Spanish troops occupied the Grand Duchy of Tuscany on Carlo’s behalf in October 1731, and in late December he arrived in Livorno where he and his cortege passed under Ruggieri’s welcoming arch, which the companies of British merchants hoped would help ingratiate them with their new ruler.

“The British first appeared in Livorno in the late 16th century simultaneously with the first charter to the Levant Company, and their presence expressed the Tudor policy of expansion into the Mediterranean. In Livorno, the British established a small factory of merchants residing in the port that grew in size and significance over the next centuries. It ranged from 30 merchants in the early 18th century to approximately 15 to 20 commercial houses operating in the port during the French Revolutionary Wars … The port of Livorno emerged as an important British hub linking the Levant with the Italian Peninsula, the Western Mediterranean and, farther, to London and the markets of the Atlantic. The port was used as an emporium, from where Levantine cargoes were diffused within the Mediterranean and in Northern Europe through inland route” (K. Galani, p. 97). Britain’s cultural contact with Tuscany grew alongside its trading networks there, and this period after the arrival of Don Carlo coincided with increasing number of British writers, artists, philosophers, and travelers visiting Livorno (which the British referred to as “Leghorn”) and the rest of Tuscany.

OCLC locates U.S. examples of this work at the Getty and Brandeis.

* University of Oxford Early Modern Festival Books Database, no. 1330; V. Deupi, Architectural Temperance: Spain and Rome, 1700-1759, p. 53; Millard, Italian and Spanish Books, p. 371-76; K. Galani, British Shipping in the Mediterranean during the Napoleonic Wars.

 

 

Price: $2,850.00

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