TASSO, Torquato.. La Gerusalemme liberata di Torquato Tasso con le figure di Giambatista Piazzetta, alla Sacra Real Maestà di Maria Teresa d’Austria, regina d’Ungheria, e di Boemia…

Venice, Giambatista Albrizzi., 1745

Folio (451 x 304 mm.), [12], 254 (recte 258) leaves. Half-title, title printed in red and black with engraved vignette, engraved allegorical frontispiece in praise of Tasso, who appears in a portrait medallion surrounded by Apollo and the nine muses, engraved portrait of the dedicatee Empress Maria Theresa by Felix Polanzani after Giambatista Piazzetta, 20 plates with ornamental borders, 20 pictorial head-pieces, 20 culs-de-lampe (6 full-page), at the end full-page double portrait of Piazzatta and Albrizzi, numerous engraved historiated initials. This copy has the plates in the unaltered state; the large illustrations have the dedications at the foot of the plates, the rococo scrolls are present at the foot of the culs-de-lampe, the portrait of the younger Maria Theresa is present in the first state. All of these elements were changed in the second edition. Contemporary Italian calf richly gilt, panels with two large frames of floral motifs and small tools with a central arabesque, pannelled spine gilt in compartments with red morocco lettering piece, gilt edges. A restored tear in the blank margin of one leaf, binding very slightly rubbed small restoration to spine, overall a very fine copy.First edition of the most sumptuos Venetian book of the eighteenth century. The publisher's far-reaching ambition is testified by a prospectus issued by him, a copy of which, scrutinized by Andrew Robison, is kept in the Pierpont Morgan Library; there Albrizzi declares: ‘Nothing will be lacking, neither in the correctness of the text, nor in the quality of the type, and of the paper: but above all I have endeavoured to distinguish my edition with the singularity and perfection of more than sixty plates, all of different designs, drawn by the celebrated painter Piazzetta, and incised in copper by the most talented engravers. This printing will satisfy not only the poets, but also the painters, and the sculptors; and I expect that so many, and such fine ornamentations may never again be seen in any book' (quoted in Knox). ‘Albrizzi's patronage of Piazzetta reached its climax in the most famous of all Venetian eighteenth-century books - the Gerusalemme Liberata... For this book Piazzetta produced some seventy drawings' (Haskell, Painters and Patrons, pp. 335-336).Piazzetta enjoyed a long friendship with the publisher Giambattista Albrizzi. ‘The illustrations were in preparation as early as 1740, when Johann Caspar Goethe saw them during a visit to Venice and was 'amazed with wonder and admiration'. These designs are now in the Pierpont Morgan Library, New York; the Biblioteca Reale, Turin; and the Hermitage Museum, St Petersberg. Albrizzi issued a prospectus for the volume accompanied by a list of 73 subscribers, including Joseph Smith, Marshal Schulenberg, the Comte de Caylus and Pierre-Jean Mariette. By the time it was published in 1745, 333 copies had been sold by subscription'. (rct.uk) At the height of Venetian book production, Piazzetta's Tasso stands out as one of the grandest examples, and a paradigm of the Venetian pastoral style.‘non a torto è considerato il più bel libro veneziano [...] G.B. Piazzetta ha assecondato i desideri dell'editore da pari suo, superando in brio e felicità d'invenzioni la già bella ediz. del Bossuet, disegnando 70 composizioni e sfoggiandovi una piacevolezza che ci fa passare da meraviglia in meraviglia [...] è un'ediz. che ben caratterizza un'epoca, e ben si merita tutta l'ammirazione che oggi ancora la circonda' (Morazzoni 256).George Knox, Piazzetta. A tercentenary exhibition of drawings, prints, and books (Washington, 1983), p. 168; Lanckoronska 240; Morazzoni 256; Andrew Robison, The Albrizzi-Piazzetta Tasso, in: Non Solus I (Urban-Champaign, IL), 1974.


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