Parma: Dalla Stamperia Reale, 1785. Folio. 372 x 245 mm. (14 3/4 x 9 3/4 inches). [xii] (first leaf blank), 99 pp. Engraved title-page vignette, 15 plates, 3 of which are folding, 5 engraved head-pieces and 2 engraved tail-pieces. Bound in contemporary vellum, gilt borders on the boards, gilt spine; the arms of Pius VI (Giovanni Angelico Braschi of Cesena 1717-1799) gilt on both boards; very fresh copy, with only a few minor abrasions to the vellum binding.
Only Edition. Beautiful copy printed by Giambattista Bodoni at the Stamperia Reale in Parma. It is illustrated with 15 engravings and seven head- and tail-pieces designed by Gerli and Domenico Muzzi and engraved by Domenico Gagnoni, Girolamo Mantelli and Giuseppe Patrini, engravers who worked closely with the Bodoni's press.
Gerli's Opuscoli, is divided into five parts, all of which are testaments to his technical and artistic skills. The first part is devoted to Gerli's construction of a hot air balloon, based on designs published by Montgolfier. The 6 engravings that accompany his explanatory text illustrate many of the components that make up the balloon structure as well as technical images of the balloon in flight. Part two is a description of a novel method of making pavement for interior floors using a glaze that resembles marble and decorating it with designs that resemble the paintings of the Renaissance masters. The third part is a Gerli's method for plastering walls and decorating them with encaustic paintings in the style of the ancient Greeks and Romans. This part is illustrated with 3 plates. Part four, illustrated with 5 plates, is a description of his architectural designs for the restoration of the church in the town of Seregno outside Milan, that was damaged by earthquakes. The final part is his reflection on a method to enhance the livability of 17th and 18th century buildings by constructing soffits that would direct air to all parts of the structure. One plate illustrates this section.
Agostino Gerli (1744-1821) was not only a master of the decorative arts, he was a historian of the field who researched ancient methods and techniques to recreate neo-classical interior designs for many of the noble palace in Bologna, Ferrara, Milan, and Parma. As a young man he went to France and worked with Hubert Guibert and Jacques Gabriel and learned the art of interior design and decoration. In the 1780's he went to Rome, Pompeii, and Herculaneum and studied the designs of the Romans and learned the methods of floor and wall decoration that was to be in such demand in the last years of the century. At times he worked with his two brothers, whose technical skills enhanced his sense of decoration, and together they became leaders in Italy in the transformation of interior space from the rococo style to the fashionable classical style of post-revolutionary France.
Brooks 293. Berlin Catalogue 2643. Bodoni, Bibliotheca Wittockiana, no. 42. For biographical information see, http://www.treccani.it/enciclopedia/agostino-gerli the digital version of the Dizionario Biografico Italiani. (70). Item #70