Item #1142 La Gerusalemme Liberata. Con le figure di Giambattista Piazzetta. Alla sacra Real Maestá di Maria Teresa d’Austria. Torquato Tasso.
La Gerusalemme Liberata. Con le figure di Giambattista Piazzetta. Alla sacra Real Maestá di Maria Teresa d’Austria.
La Gerusalemme Liberata. Con le figure di Giambattista Piazzetta. Alla sacra Real Maestá di Maria Teresa d’Austria.
La Gerusalemme Liberata. Con le figure di Giambattista Piazzetta. Alla sacra Real Maestá di Maria Teresa d’Austria.
La Gerusalemme Liberata. Con le figure di Giambattista Piazzetta. Alla sacra Real Maestá di Maria Teresa d’Austria.
La Gerusalemme Liberata. Con le figure di Giambattista Piazzetta. Alla sacra Real Maestá di Maria Teresa d’Austria.
La Gerusalemme Liberata. Con le figure di Giambattista Piazzetta. Alla sacra Real Maestá di Maria Teresa d’Austria.
“Il fiori delle moderne stampa italiane” “The flower of the 18th century Italian printing press” -- Albrizzi

La Gerusalemme Liberata. Con le figure di Giambattista Piazzetta. Alla sacra Real Maestá di Maria Teresa d’Austria.

Venezia: Stampata da Giambattista Albrizzi, 1745. Item #1142

Folio.  435 x 300 mm., [17 x 11 /34 inches].  [11] p. l., 254 leaves.  Bound in contemporary mottled calf; raised bands and gilt spine, decorated endpapers; some minor pitting to the leather boards where the acid used to mottle the calf has deteriorated and very small cracks to head and tail of spine.  With the book plate of the founder and publisher of the Roman newspaper La Repubblica, Eugenio Scalfari.  An unsophisticated copy in very good condition.


The text block includes a half title; engraved allegorical frontispiece of Apollo and the Muses, with a portrait of Tasso in the upper right; title-page printed in red and black with an allegorical engraved vignette representing Venice and Neptune;  a full page engraved portrait of Maria Theresa as a mature women by Piazzetta and engraved by Felice Polanzani;  5 page dedication to Maria Theresa by Albrizzi with an engraved initial letter;  six page subscriber’s list;  6 page essay “Allegoria del Poema” with an engraved initial letter;  2 page “Privilegio” dated March 26, 1745;  20 “Cantos” each introduced by a full page engraved plate, a large decorative engraved design enclosing the “Argomento”, a large engraved initial letter and a large engraved tailpiece; on the final leaf is an engraved portrait of Piazzetta and Albrizzi seated in an Arcadian landscape.


Celebrated edition, illustrated with engravings by Giambattista Piazzetta, one of the most important Venetian artists of the 18th century.  A major collaboration between the artist and the printer/publisher Giambattista Albrizzi, and a culmination of years of working together on illustrated book projects.  In a short essay on the book by Eleanor Garvey, Hofer Curator at Harvard, she refers to the illustrations for the canto’s as follows:


“The canto frontispieces, each framed with a border, are compositions of heroic episodes, depicted in the traditional manner.  More interesting are the head-and tailpieces, the former in the shape of elaborate pictorial cartouches framing the engraved canto summaries.  They combine the heroic, mythological, and genre, whereas the tailpieces, resting on brackets, are all bucolic genre scenes.  They both express Piazzetta’s own individual pastoral style, freed from the restraints of the narrative canto frontispieces.  Even those are pervaded with his poetic and often melancholy interpretation.”


This appears to be the second edition published in the same year as the first and Piazzetta was responsible for the changes to the design of the engravings.  The coat-of-arms and the dedications have been omitted from the 20 plates and inserted is poem as an introduction to the “Argomento” for each canto.  For a more complete information see Andrew Robison’s discussion in George Know’s Piazzetta p. 231-32, part of which reads:


“It used to be thought that this second edition was a pirated one, but it is now clear that its preparation was already in progress prior to 1743, and that Piazzetta himself was responsible for the alterations in the design which it displays.  Perhaps Albrizzi realized as the subscriptions came in that his Tasso was going to be a bestseller, and that a second edition with new or completely reworked engravings would be necessary.  If he was not prepared to take advantage of the demand, someone else would surely step in to fill the gap.”


Torquato Tasso (1544-1595), author of the lyrical poems Rinaldo, Aminta , his master work the epic poem Gerusalemme liberate, and numerous love poems, were completed during his tenure in Ferrara as a guest of Cardinal Luigi d’Este and his brother Duke Alfonso II.  He became good friends of Alfonso’s two sisters, Lucrezia and Leanora, who became his patrons and the inspiration of much of his love poetry during the 1570’s.  Gerusalemme liberate, written over a period of fifteen years, captured the ethos of the period by intertwining religious fervor and the romance of chivalry into a great epic poem about the capture of Jerusalem during the first Crusade.  The twenty cantos are highlighted by the romantic interaction of the crusader and the exotic Saracen women they encounter and the love affairs that ensued.  These themes reflected the Italian epic style and were elevated by the lyrical nature of Tasso’s poetry. 


Tasso was considered by many to be the greatest Italian poet of the late Renaissance period and his work was recognized by future generations in numerous editions in Italian, French, Spanish, and English issued well into the 19th century.  His biography is complex.  Tasso’s decline into mental illness severely impacted his writing career and his last twenty year were clouded by doubt, suspicion, and erratic behavior that resulted in a nomadic life, moving from one Italian city to another, until he was embraced by Pope Clement VIII just before his death in 1595.


Eleanor Garvey, “Torquato Tasso, La Gerusalemme liberate” in Visions of a Collector, the Lessing J. Rosenwald Collection in the Library of Congress.  Washington 1991, no. 52.  George Knox.  Piazzetta, a Tercentenary Exhibition.  Washington: The National Gallery of Art, 1983. pp, 166, 230.  Giuseppe Morazzoni.  Il libro illustrato Veneziano del Settocento. no. 256.  See also Giovanni Aquilecchia’s essay in Encyclopedia Britanica, published in 1998.

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Price: $8,000.00

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