Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae
Roma nell’incisione del Cinquecento


edited by S. Corsi

exhibition catalogue: Florence, Casa Buonarroti, 23 October 2004- 2 May 2005

The collections of engravings that became popular in the second half of the 16th century under the title of Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae saw the light in the press of Antonio Lafréry, in Via del Parione, Rome. Lafréry’s publishing endeavour, conceived “for the service and pleasure of the virtuous”, proved enormously successful; indeed, in the 1570s the press’s catalogue included as much as five hundred subjects.

“Every copy of the Speculum” writes Stefano Corsi, curator – together with Pina Ragionieri – of the exhibition held at the Casa Buonarroti (23 October 2004-2 May 2005), “is unique, each differring from the others in the number of pages and subjects included, and also with respect to the printers and engravers responsible for the various pieces.”

The copy of the Casa Buonarroti once belonged to the private library of Charles de Tolnay, director of the Florentine museum from 1965 to 1981 and includes 84 pieces: 52 of them are shown in the exhibition, split in two sections – one devoted to ancient Rome, the other to the Rome of Michelangelo’s times.

The French artist Nicolas Béatrizet is responsible for suggestive engravings of famous ancient statues, and for rigorous studies such as the cross-section of the Pantheon; Lafréry, himself a skilled engraver, excelled in the composition of perspectival views where scenic effect is paramount. Several works by Enea Vico from Parma also stand out, as well as a number of plates from the ever-popular series depicting the exotic animals once kept in the Vivarium and used in the venationes. This section of the exhibition is completed by representations and reconstructions of monuments, theatres, gates and columns of the ancient city. At the core of the section devoted to 16th-century Rome are architectural studies: here, however, the plates not only document existing buildings, but also illustrate models, projects and building solutions of great historical value.

Eur 14,00

Weight 0.3 kg
Dimensions 20 × 22.5 cm





52 in b/w