Item #5712 Historico-philosophica descriptio picturae novae bibliothecae fornici in Canonia Strahoviensi Canonicorum Praemonstratensium Pragae in Monte Sion ab Antonio Maulbertsch, academiae atrium, Vindobonensis et Berolinensis sodali. Václav Joseph / MAYER, Franz Anton MAULBERTSCH.
Historico-philosophica descriptio picturae novae bibliothecae fornici in Canonia Strahoviensi Canonicorum Praemonstratensium Pragae in Monte Sion ab Antonio Maulbertsch, academiae atrium, Vindobonensis et Berolinensis sodali...
Historico-philosophica descriptio picturae novae bibliothecae fornici in Canonia Strahoviensi Canonicorum Praemonstratensium Pragae in Monte Sion ab Antonio Maulbertsch, academiae atrium, Vindobonensis et Berolinensis sodali...
Historico-philosophica descriptio picturae novae bibliothecae fornici in Canonia Strahoviensi Canonicorum Praemonstratensium Pragae in Monte Sion ab Antonio Maulbertsch, academiae atrium, Vindobonensis et Berolinensis sodali...
Historico-philosophica descriptio picturae novae bibliothecae fornici in Canonia Strahoviensi Canonicorum Praemonstratensium Pragae in Monte Sion ab Antonio Maulbertsch, academiae atrium, Vindobonensis et Berolinensis sodali...
Historico-philosophica descriptio picturae novae bibliothecae fornici in Canonia Strahoviensi Canonicorum Praemonstratensium Pragae in Monte Sion ab Antonio Maulbertsch, academiae atrium, Vindobonensis et Berolinensis sodali...
An Enlightenment Fresco at the Library of Strahov
Printed by a Woman in Prague
Prague, Typis Viduae Elsenwanger, factore Antonio Petzold, 1797.

Historico-philosophica descriptio picturae novae bibliothecae fornici in Canonia Strahoviensi Canonicorum Praemonstratensium Pragae in Monte Sion ab Antonio Maulbertsch, academiae atrium, Vindobonensis et Berolinensis sodali.

4to [25.7 x 20.2 cm], (6) ff. (including a full-page engraving of the library with its ceiling fresco), (1) f. full-page dedication engraving, 54 pp., with engraved headpiece and woodcut tailpiece. Bound in contemporary calf, spine gold-stamped with foliate motif, blind-ruled borders to covers, block-printed endpapers, all edges gilt. Minor rubbing and edge wear to spine and boards. Very minor occasional edge toning, ownership inscription “Bibliothecae Slacoverdensis 1805” (modern Ostrov) on title. Internally very well preserved.

First edition of an unusual (and exceedingly comprehensive) iconographical guide to the complex ceiling fresco at the monastic library of Strahov near Prague, a painting entitled The Triumph of Divine Wisdom (1793-94) by the accomplished Enlightenment painter Franz Anton Maulbertsch (1724-96), an emulator of the rococo style of Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (1696-1770) and an artist who is still “regarded as the outstanding painter of his time” in Central Europe (T. DaCosta Kaufmann, p. 7). The library and its fresco are here recorded in a full-page engraving by the printmaker Johann Berka (1758-1815), who also designed and executed the volume’s fine full-page dedicatory engraving to Emperor Francis II (1768-1835) and the architectural headpiece opening the volume.

In the early 1790s, the Abbot of Strahov, Václav Mayer, decided to expand his monastic library by adding a grand hall, and so he had to solve the problem of how to decorate the new space. In 1784 Emperor Joseph II (1741-90) suppressed the Premonstratensian convent at Louka u Znojma, which only recently had been renovated with a library with a ceiling painted by Maulbertsch, professor of painting at the Academy in Vienna. Abbot Mayer negotiated with the imperial court to purchase the library shelves from Louka for the new Strahov library, the layout of which was adjusted to accommodate these shelves. In 1793 Mayer contracted Maulbertsch to create a new fresco similar to the one he had painted in Louka. In 1794 Maulbertsch and his assistant Martin Michl painted the frescos on the ceiling of the new library hall (currently the Philosophical Hall) after having spent six months producing sketches on the theme of ‘God’s Wisdom in the History of Mankind.’ The general concept of the iconographic program is the growth of rational knowledge through the spiritual development of mankind, from Adam and Eve, to the paganism of classical antiquity, the New Testament, and up to the modern era.

Although Maulbertsch was revisiting a theme he had previously treated, “the differences between the details of the programs from Louka and Strahov are striking, and they are spelled out in the distinctions made in print by the extensive description for Louka versus that probably written by the historian G. J. Dlabacz for the program designed by Abbot Mayer for Strahov [the present volume]” (T. DaCosta Kaufmann, p. 7), suggesting that the philosophical and political radicalism of the French Revolution had somewhat dulled Maulbertsch’s long-held optimism for Enlightenment movements.

OCLC locates U.S. copies at the National Gallery of Art, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Michigan, Penn State, Yale, Newberry, and the Boston Public Library.



* Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann, Painterly Enlightenment: The Art of Franz Anton Maulbertsch, 1724-1796; K. Mösender, Franz Anton Maulbertsch: Aufklärung in der barocken Deckenmalerei.

Price: $2,450.00

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