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Kolbe & Fanning
Auction 165  3 Dec 2022
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Lot 109
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Starting price: 6500 USD
Current bid: 8500 USD
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An Outstanding Complete Set of Visconti & Mongez's Incomparable Greek & Roman Iconography
Visconti, Ennio Q. [continued by Chevalier A. Mongez]. ICONOGRAPHIE ANCIENNE OU RECUEIL DES PORTRAITS AUTHENTIQUES DES EMPEREURS, ROIS ET HOMMES ILLUSTRES DE L'ANTIQUITƒ.

TOME PREMIER. ICONOGRAPHIE GRECQUE.

PREMIéRE PARTIE. HOMMES ILLUSTRES.

SECONDE PARTIE. ROIS.

SUITE DE LA SECONDE PARTIE.

Paris: de l'Imprimerie de P. Didot l'AinŽ. 1808. Three volumes, complete. Large folio [63.5 by 49 cm], original matching maroon half morocco with red sides; spines ruled and lettered in gilt; marbled endpapers. [Part I] (2), xxv (1), iii (i), (2), 182 pages; [Part II] (2), vii, (1), (185)-364 pages; [Part III] (2), 365-658 pages; large, unsigned, finely engraved historiated frontispiece device dated 1816 and depicting Lollius Alcamenes on main title; 58 finely engraved plates [numbered 1-57, 39*], occasionally bound out of sequence.

ICONOGRAPHIE ANCIENNE OU RECUEIL DES PORTRAITS AUTHENTIQUES DES EMPEREURS, ROIS ET HOMMES ILLUSTRES DE L'ANTIQUITƒ. ICONOGRAPHIE ROMAINE.

TOME PREMIER. PREMIéRE PARTIE. HOMMES ILLUSTRES. SUPPLƒMENT Ë L'ICONOGRAPHIE GRECQUE.

TOME SECOND. SECONDE PARTIE. EMPEREURS, CƒSARS, TYRANS, ET LEURS FAMILLES.

TOME TROISIéME. SECONDE PARTIE. EMPEREURS, CƒSARS, TYRANS, ET LEURS FAMILLES.

TOME QUATRIéME. SUITE DE LA SECONDE PARTIE. EMPEREURS, CƒSARS, TYRANS, ET LEURS FAMILLES.

Paris: de l'Imprimerie de P. Didot l'AinŽ. 1817-1826. Four volumes, complete. Large folio [61.5 by 45.5 cm], contemporary matching maroon half morocco with mottled sides; spines toned to tan with six raised bands, ruled, lettered and decorated in gilt; marbled endpapers. [Part I] (6), ii, ii, (2), 219, (1) + (2), 18, (2) pages; [Part II] (6), 232 pages; [Part III] (6), 187, (1) + (2), 18 pages; [Part IV] (6), 178 pages; large, unsigned, finely engraved portrait medallion depicting Louis XVII on main title; lithographic and finely engraved portraits or armorial devices on subsequent two titles; 70 finely engraved plates [numbered 1-63, 19*, 24*, A, B, 39*, 64A, 64B]. Seven volumes total. Binding extremities lightly rubbed; intermittent spotting and foxing, occasionally heavy; pages supple. A handsome set, very good or better. Extremely rare: probably the best of the three complete sets we have been privileged to sell at auction in the last thirty years. The "footprint" of this remarkable set of books is overwhelming. Over two feet in height and nearly 20 inches wide, these immense tomes weigh a total of 50 kg (110 pounds). They may well be the most imposing set of numismatically illustrated books ever published. The vast array of numismatic images was utilized in the selection of illustrations for Benjamin Richard Green's 1829 Numismatic Atlas, of Ancient History. The main author, Ennio Quirino Visconti (1751-1818), was an internationally recognized classical scholar and draughtsman. As a child he was schooled by his father, Giovan Battista, utilizing the family collection of ancient coins and the sculptures and ancient coins in the Museo Pio Clementino, where Giovan served as its first director. In 1798 Ennio became one of the five consuls of the newly created Roman Republic; a year later, he was summoned to Paris as Conservateur des Antiques in the Louvre. As such he was also Director of the MusŽe Napoleon, and conceived the imperial project of a classified iconography of the ancient world--a monumental lexicon of classical antiquity.

The seven resulting volumes, printed by Didot in his striking new type, are but a mere fragment of the iconography as it was intended. Visconti himself died in 1818, and the final volumes were prepared under Chevalier Antoine Mongez (1747-1835). (Brunet states that the final volume was published in 1833, not 1826 as indicated on the title.) The work was never completed, but even within this small preliminary field the range is enormous, covering every known, or suspected, king whose portrait has survived, and a variety of portraits of famous men, backed by contemporary references from classical literature. Some of the finest engravers of the day contributed to this work, including Beisson, Dorez, Guttenberg, Lacour, Laurent, Migneret and others. Many of the plates partly or entirely feature ancient coins.

While the outstanding quality of the engravings is perhaps most striking at first glance, the volumes evince a very high level of scholarship as well. This first folio edition, intended for presentation purposes only, was followed by an edition for sale in which the text was published in quarto format and accompanied by two folio volumes of plates. Sandys, in A History of Classical Scholarship, writes that Ennio was the most famous member of the archeological family of the Visconti, and was a precocious genius. He also found it worthy of mention that he had seen the "finely-bound large-paper copy" of Visconti's "three important volumes on Greek Iconography...that once belonged to Napoleon himself" which, at the time, was in the "collection of M. Gennadius in London." John Drury (David Edmunds) has written of that "the quality of the typography, printing and paper, the excellence of the plates, and the high level of scholarship, go to make this not simply a grand early 19th century coffee-table book, but a highly important contribution to its subjects and worthy a place in every major library of numismatics, classics or the arts." Babelon 130: "E. Quirino Visconti and A. Mongez ... drew on numismatics as a source for their glorious work on the iconography of the ancients." Brunet 30412: "Ces deux magnifiques iconographies, qui font suite l'une ˆ l'autre, ont ŽtŽ imprimŽes aux frais de l'Etat, et distribuŽes en prŽsents." Cicognara 2717 and 3917. Graesse 370. Hennin 69. Leitzmann 148. Ex La Rochefoucauld Duc de Bisaccia (presumably Sosthenes II of La Rochefoucauld), with his bookplate in all seven volumes.

Estimate: 10000 USD

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