4to [24.4 x 19.6 cm], (4) ff., lxxix pp., (1) p., (4) ff., with (2) ff. engravings (one of which is folding), engraved device on title page, woodcut initial and tailpiece. Bound in contemporary tan calf, elaborately glit spine and boards, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. Minor rubbing to spine and boards, minor worming to extremities of spine. Apart from the occasional minor marginal spot, internally very fresh and well preserved.
A handsomely bound copy in contemporary gilt calf of the rare first edition of an illustrated treatise on the two famous Marian icons housed at the church of Santa Maria presso San Celso in Milan. The Notizie istoriche intorno alla miracolosa imagine at once stresses the miraculous nature of these images and provides a more modern, antiquarian analysis of the icons as artworks. The volume includes a full-page engraving of the Madonna dei Miracoli, also known as the Madonna di S. Ambrogio (it supposedly having been commissioned by St. Ambrose himself), which is said to have come to life and lifted the veil from her face in front of a congregation in 1485 and in so doing inspired the construction of the church (begun in 1493). A second, folding engraving shows the miraculous fresco known as the Madonna delle Lachrime, an image that is said to have blinked and wept in 1620.
The text of this anonymous treatise was compiled from the research of Giuseppe Antonio Sassi (1675-1751), a respected philologist, antiquarian, and prefetto of the Biblilotheca Ambrosiana (see Melzi, p. 243). The volume gives a history of the veneration of Mary in Milan from the 3rd until the 18th century, offers notes discussing the extreme antiquity of the Madonna dei Miracoli, provides a summation of miracles related to the icon, describes the noble patronage of the church and its furnishings (with much information on artists), reproduces epigraphical matter, gives a register of famous visitors over the centuries and the votive offerings they left, and outlines the liturgical practices surrounding the icons. The work culminates with a section detailing the architects, painters and sculptors who contributed to the construction and decoration of the church (e.g., Bramante, Raphael, Rubens, Crespi, Proccaccini, etc.).
The finely executed engraving of the Madonna dei Miracoli is signed by ‘Bianchi,’ and must be by the same Giovanni Battista Bianchi who describes himself on the title page as the “Printer of the abovementioned Illustrious Temple” of Santa Maria presso San Celso. Bianchi was named ‘stampatore regio’ in 1766 and soon established himself as “one of the most important Italian publishers of musical librettos in the Settecento” (Locatelli, p. 209). Apart from the present volume we locate no other works printed at/for Santa Maria presso San Celso.
OCLC locates U.S. institutional copies at Harvard, Smith College, Illinois, Getty, National Gallery of Art, and Dayton.
* Milano e il suo territorio (1844), p. 387; Melzi, Dizionario di opera anonime e pseudonime, vol. 2, p. 243; S. Locatelli, Edizioni teatrali nella Milano del Settecento.