De Templo Iovis Capitolini

Method Copper engraving
Artist Domenico de' Rossi after Giacomo Lauro
Published Cura, Sumptibus, ac Typis Dominici de Rubeis, Io: Iacobi hæredis ad Templum Sæ. Mariæ de Pace. Romæ, Anno MDCXCIX cum Privilo. Summi Pontis. et Lica. Super. [1699]
Dimensions Image 144 x 230 mm, Plate 178 x 234 mm, Sheet 260 x 402 mm
Notes A depiction of the Temple of Jupiter Best and Greatest on the Capitoline, Plate 29 from Rossi's Romanae Magnitudinis Monumenta. The plate depicts the temple in a manner that suggests the cruciform layout of a basilica cathedral, with the grand colonnaded entrance flanked by a number of wings stepped back from the central building. At the centre of the plan is a squat round tower with a shallow dome topped by a tempietto. Four large statues adorn the building's roof. Lauro's depiction of the temple in such a fashion is surprising. Although the temple was no longer extant in Lauro's day, everything but its foundations having been destroyed in the remodelling of the Capitoline by Michelangelo, there were numerous depictions of the building on Roman coinage. A number of Lauro's other plates make reference to the evidence of ancient coinage, so presumably he would have at least been familiar enough with the building's basic structure. Instead, perhaps this plate is a deliberate attempt to present the temple as the pre-Christian equivalent of a building like St Peters, as the religious heart of Rome's pagan past. Lauro's copious notes to the plate describe the history of the temple, with particular focus on the first of its four iterations, built during the ancient Regal period.

The Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus was the most important of Rome's ancient religious structures. Located on the Capitoline, it would have dominated the skyline of the city of Rome. The temple had a long history, and was rebuilt numerous times, usually due to destruction of the previous temple by fire. The first temple was, according to Roman tradition, vowed by Tarquinius Priscus and completed by his grandson and the last of Rome's kings, Tarquinius Superbus, in 509 BC. The temple was Etruscan in style, and decorated extensively with terracotta, including a number of statues on its roof. In 83 BC, having stood for over 400 years, it burned down, and was replaced by the dictator Sulla. It too was burnt, in the civil unrest of the Year of the Four Emperors in AD 69. The third temple was set up by Vespasian, but again burned down, this time in a fire that damaged much of the city in AD 80. The final iteration of the Temple was built by Vespasian's second son, the emperor Domitian, in a particularly opulent style, including gilded roof tiles and lavish sculptural work. Unlike its predecessors, the fourth temple was not destroyed by fire, but rather succumbed to centuries of disuse following the closure of all pagan temples by decree of Theodosius in AD 392. Although the ruins remained largely intact throughout the Medieval period, the temple was eventually destroyed for the Renaissance remodelling of the Campidoglio.

Romanae Magnitudinis Monumenta was published in 1699 by the Roman book-dealer, printer, and antiquarian, Domenico Rossi. The work, a collection of plates designed to celebrate the architectural and archaeological achievements of ancient Rome, featured over 130 depictions of Roman temples, public buildings, amphitheatres, gardens, private villas, and monuments. Although unsigned, most of the plates were probably engraved by Rossi's friend and collaborator, Pietro Santi Bartoli. The majority of the views are actually re-engravings of an earlier series of Roman buildings published by the antiquarian Giacomo Lauro in 1612 in his Antiquae Urbis Splendor. Lauro's original work was published in four parts. The first detailed Roman customs, with a brief history of the city and its hills and public buildings. The second and third enlarged upon this theme with further illustrations of Roman buildings and monuments, both public and private. The fourth presented a number of views of notable ruins, as well as images of Roman structures that had been reused in the present day, such as a the Villa d'Este at Tivoli and a particularly spectacular scene of a fireworks display at the Castel St Angelo. In most successive reprints though this fourth part was omitted, as it was in Rossi's 1699 edition, owing to the fact that Rossi and his audience were interested predominantly in Rome's storied past, rather than the churches, palazzi, and ruinous monuments of the present. Rossi later published a companion to the Romanae Magnitudinis Monumenta, called the Collectio Antiquitatum Urbis, in which the engravings from Lauro's fourth volume were combined with other views of the contemporary city, its cathedrals, churches, villas, and ruins. A number of Rossi's own views from this series would later be re-engraved and republished by Piranesi.

Academically, the Antiquae Urbis Splendor is significant for portraying the buildings as the artist believed they would have been at their peak, rather than as they appeared in their contemporary seventeenth century setting. Of particular note are a number of illustrations, which, while fanciful, attempt to depict monuments that by Lauro and Rossi's age had been completed erased from the archaeological record. Such depictions provide a fascinating glimpse at the breadth of seventeenth century knowledge of the Roman architectural past, and suggest that Lauro relied just as much upon descriptions of buildings in the classical text as he did the ruins of the structures themselves. Apart from providing some of the very earliest representations of Roman buildings, in many ways, men like Lauro and Rossi also pre-empted the detailed archaeological analysis championed by Piranesi and his followers a century later. Lauro's copious notes to his plates draw heavily from textual evidence, but, as he admits, he is less interested in rigid historical accuracy as he is evoking a sense of wonder for the Roman past. As a result, his Roman buildings are usually depicted isolated from their urban context. The effect at all times is one of an artist who is intensely proud of his Roman ancestry.

Domenico de' Rossi (1659 – 1730) was an Italian publisher, engraver, bookseller, and antiquarian. The scion of a large and prolific family of printers, Domenico inherited the Rossi printshop from his father, Giovanni Giacomo de' Rossi. The printworks was established near the church of Santa Maria della Pace in 1633 by Guiseppe de'Rossi, who specialised in producing engravings for designers. Under Giovanni Giacomo and Domenico, the workshop reached its zenith, with father and son working on engravings on many diverse subjects, but with a speciality in publishing works of antiquarian interest. Domenico's friendship and collaboration with the engraver Bartoli and the antiquarian Bellori proved fruitful, and in the period between the early 1690s and Domenico's death in 1730, the group published numerous works on Roman architecture, sculpture, history, portraiture, ceramics, oil lamps, and funerary iconography. In Domenico's later life, his connections with the influential Maffei family secured the Rossi imprint Papal privilege. Following Domenico's death, the Rossi printshop became the Calcographia Camerale, then the Regia Calcographia, and finally the current Calcographia Nazionale.

Giacomo Lauro (fl.1583 - 1645) was an Italian engraver, printmaker, antiquarian, and connoisseur, most famous for his 1599 perspective map of Rome, and the publication, between 1612 and 1628, of a series of views of Roman buildings called the Antiquae Urbis Splendor. Very little is known of his life outside of these two works. He may be the son of another Giacomo Lauro of Treviso (1550-1605), though the fact that Lauro frequently signed his name as 'Jacobus Laurus Romanus' would suggest a Roman, rather than Trevisan, origin. Considering the rudimentary nature of many of the plates from his Antiquae Urbis Splendor, it would be easy to see Lauro as an engraver of only moderate talent, but his cartography, and the small number of portraits in his name indicate he was an artist of some skill. Instead, the Antiquae Urbis Splendor should be seen as Lauro's attempt at producing a work that demonstrates his skill as an antiquarian and historian, the images intended to elucidate and educate.

Condition: Crisp impression with full margins. Minor time toning and light foxing to sheet.
Framing unmounted
Price £45.00
Stock ID 40764