Oblong 4to (200 x 277 / 211 x 300) mm.). 36 leaves with graphite drawings on rectos and many versos, foliated and paginated  1-69 . Two titles within cartouches (f. 1r and 23r), 103 pencil drawings of trophies, funerary statue designs, knights in armor, and a full-page allegorical drawing of death, most pages with one to two pencilled captions. The four largest leaves signed Luigi Rancilio dis. Deckle edges, ff. 1-14 and 19 on shorter narrower paper, ff. 15-18 on sheets that are too tall for the binding and were folded at bottom. A few sheets with marginal pin-pricks, the drawings on pp. 52-53, 58, and 66-69 showing signs of rubbing (from copying?) and with some highlighting in lead, or, on pp. 67-69, in ink. Watermarks (partially visible): three fleurs-de-lis atop a double-line pointed oval; crescent moon with human profile; countermark or third watermark of filigree decoration. Some finger-soiling, fraying and a few chips to larger sheets. Early 19th-century calf-backed marbled-paper covered boards, the marbled paper apparently 18th-century, smooth spine gilt lettered “Rancilio Raccolta di Trofei Sacri,” and with parallel gilt fillets; traces of blue paper wrappers in gutters (worn and stained, corners bumped).***
An album of accomplished rococo ornament drawings, largely of the allegorical assemblages of objects known as trophies, by an otherwise unknown Italian artist. No two drawings are the same. Evidently dating from the late eighteenth century, the drawings appear to constitute a reservoir of motifs which could be used for book illustrations, or possibly for more general use, by an artist or for the use of a studio of artists.
In the first part, entitled “Sacred trophies,” religious motifs include Moses’ tablets entwined with laurel wreaths; a Bishop’s mitre, chalices and the serpent; a pedestal, urn, flaming torches, and the handles of a scroll; the Eye of Providence, the Cross, the Bible, David’s harp, statues of the Crucifixion, Veronica’s veil, and instruments of the Passion. Most pages bear thematic captions, e.g., Testamento Vecchio, Fede Speranza e Carità, or Nuovo Testamento.
Leaves 15-18 (pp. 28-34), the largest sheets in the album, containing drawings on rectos only, are devoted to death and funerals. Page 28, captioned Monumenta e Trofej Sepolcrale and Transit Gloria Mundi, contains on the outer sides two different designs for a funerary monument, and at center four trophies, each a skull wearing respectively a cardinal’s mitre, royal crown, papal tiara, and biretta. More neoclassical designs for tombs and funerary statuary, including women in mourning, a weeping skeleton, father time atop pedestals, and a sorrowful winged angel, occupy the next two leaves. A full-page allegorical drawing occupies the final leaf in this section. Captioned La Morte e il Tempo, the ravages of death are shown as two skeletal Death figures in the foreground and Time in the center background, all three wielding scythes. On the ground in the foreground are the dispersed elements of a trophy – shields, drums, helmets, arrows, sheaths, spears, crowns, etc. – and in the far background is a landscape with a neoclassical villa, a gothic ruin, and a tomb or funeral monument with the initials P A M.
In spite of the title several of the later drawings in this first part are secular, and show a torso in Roman military dress, classic military trophies with warriors’ torsos, helmets, spears, etc., and two pages of knights standing alone and on horseback.
The section title Raccolta di Trofei Sacri e profani introduces trophies of musical instruments, objects associated with the visual arts, theater, the sciences (globes, telescopes), and agriculture or gardening (one including a woman’s sun-hat). A few pages are captioned Costume moderno. On one page are four small beribboned allegorical trophies identified as Justice, Strength, Prudence and Temperance. The last few pages include six ornate rococo cartouches; these may have been copied by a tracing or transfer method, being slightly smudged, perhaps the reason for the ink highlighting on four of the drawings.
The watermark of a crescent moon with human profile was used by papermakers of northern and eastern France in the 16th and 17th centuries. The fleur-de-lis watermark may also indicate a French paper, but the album and its binding are Italian. The draughtsman Luigi Rancilio is not identified in any of the standard sources (Thieme Becker, Nagler, Dizionario Nazionale degli Italiani, the Allgemeines Künstlerlexikon). Item #2857