BUONARROTI, Michelangelo, SCULTORI [GHISI], Adamo.. Michael Angelus Bonarotus Pinxit, Adam Sculptor Mantuanus Incidit.

Rome, Jo. Bapta. de Rubeis,., 1612

Octavo (197 x 156 mm.), portrait of Michelangelo in ovale and 73 engravings. Light browning, an ink spot on the first page, a very fine copy in contemporary Italian limp vellum with manuscript title on spine.The scarce first edition, second state, of this superb collection of 73 engravings after Michelangelo's frescos in the Sistine Chapel, with a portrait of the painter.Produced to facilitate the study of anatomy and models for artists-in-training, and in general to provide reproductions of those not easily accessible masterpieces, the plates were engraved by the Mantuan artist Adamo Scultori (also called Ghisi, 1530-74) and probably first printed by Giovanni Battista de' Rossi (de Rubeis) in Rome, c.1580. Michelangelo's portrait, dated 1612 and not systematically present, shows the painter aged 74.The number of recorded plates is variable, with Brunet listing 74, Bartsch and Le Blanc 72, and Steinmann/Wittkover 72 to 74. With 73, this copy collates like those at Pierpont Morgan and the Royal Collections. The plates portray the sybils and prophets, and individual figures of men, women and children in various poses, extracted from Sistine Chapel frescoes. In particular, they also reproduce frescoes that are no longer extant. The portraits of the ancestors of Christ, to which Scultori devoted four plates, were destroyed by Michelangelo to make room for the Last Judgement. The figure of Atlas was irremediably damaged by the explosion at Castel Sant'Angelo in 1798.A scarce, fascinating and masterful collection.WorldCat locates 6 copies in the US (NYPL, NGA, Lake Forest, Pierpont Morgan, Princeton, Illinois); COPAC locates 7 in the UK (including Oxford and BL).Steinmann/Wittkower 817; Bartsch XV, 426; Le Blanc II, 290, 9-80; Nagler, Monogr. I, 1224; Brunet I, 1393: ‘recueil assez rare'.

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