Memorie della Vita del glorioso patriarca San Giuseppe sposo di Maria Vergine date in luce da un suo divoto e figurate in rame da Giorgio Fossati, Architetto ec. Giorgio Domenico FOSSATI, artist.
Memorie della Vita del glorioso patriarca San Giuseppe sposo di Maria Vergine date in luce da un suo divoto e figurate in rame da Giorgio Fossati, Architetto ec.
Memorie della Vita del glorioso patriarca San Giuseppe sposo di Maria Vergine date in luce da un suo divoto e figurate in rame da Giorgio Fossati, Architetto ec.
Memorie della Vita del glorioso patriarca San Giuseppe sposo di Maria Vergine date in luce da un suo divoto e figurate in rame da Giorgio Fossati, Architetto ec.
Memorie della Vita del glorioso patriarca San Giuseppe sposo di Maria Vergine date in luce da un suo divoto e figurate in rame da Giorgio Fossati, Architetto ec.
Memorie della Vita del glorioso patriarca San Giuseppe sposo di Maria Vergine date in luce da un suo divoto e figurate in rame da Giorgio Fossati, Architetto ec.
Memorie della Vita del glorioso patriarca San Giuseppe sposo di Maria Vergine date in luce da un suo divoto e figurate in rame da Giorgio Fossati, Architetto ec.
A palette of prints

Memorie della Vita del glorioso patriarca San Giuseppe sposo di Maria Vergine date in luce da un suo divoto e figurate in rame da Giorgio Fossati, Architetto ec. Venice: Carlo Pecora, 1750.

Folio (367 x 250 mm). [4], 76 pages. Engraved frontispiece portrait of Joseph, Jesus and angels in sepia, set within ornamental border in black, title printed in red and black with red-printed engraved vignette, 20 engraved plates by Fossati, of which 5 printed in black and the rest in 9 different shades of sepia, red, green, blue, bistre, and brown, large red-printed engraved headpiece vignette and initial opening text, woodcut initials and tailpieces. A full-sized, fine copy (fol. B2 with old extension to fore-margin, marginal dampstain to C1 and C2, a very few marginal spots). Contemporary patterned pastepaper-covered flexible boards, backstrip with old, chipped parchment reinforcements, abrasions and staining especially to lower cover, sewing loose before final quire exposing inner backstrip and sewing structure. Provenance: (?authorial) correction in ink to a word and a letter in the dedication; a few childish scribbles in lower margins of text leaves; a small engraved religious print, partly colored, mounted on lower flyleaf; on front flyleaf is mounted an intricate and very fragile cut-paper bookplate(?), in brown paper, showing Mary(?) holding the cross, with palm tree, emblematic religious objects and a funerary monument with motto “hoc signo Vinces,” the Emperor Constantine (cut from a separate piece) kneeling before her; Comte Folchi, armorial bookplate, motto "impavidum ferient.”***

Only edition of a rare and important celebration of color printing, by the architect, designer, scenographer and engraver Giorgio Fossati, who left his mark on Venice thanks to his 42-year position as proto (chief architect) of the Scuola di San Rocco.  Fossati was also the pioneer of color-printing in Venice.  His illustrated books were the first in Italy to join the vogue for color prints which took root in the mid-18th century. This devout publication with its extensive color printing preceded by a year his parallel (and slightly less rare) Vita del glorioso San Rocco; both contain 20 plates, being thus slimmer productions than Fossati’s celebrated 6-volume Favole (1744). The Vita di San Giuseppe is superior to the San Rocco not only in the quality of the illustrations, but in its size, being the only folio work of these three principal color-printed publications of Fossati, all from the press of Carlo Pecora. Fossati issued at least three other works with some plates in multiple colors; all preceded the publications of his greatest “rival” in early Venetian color printing, Antonio Zatta, whose four-volume Dante, in which some large-paper copies had plates in multiple colors, appeared in 1757-58.

Fossati dedicated the present Vita to the sisters of Santa Cecilia in Como (near his birthplace of Morcote, or Morcò), most of whom (notably the abbesses) came from illustrious Milanese families. The ostensibly pious inspiration to publish a life of Saint Joseph (which is followed by a few devotional sonnets) was perhaps encouraged by the fun of producing plates in at least 10 different colors. Copies of both the Vita di San Giuseppe and that of San Rocco were available with the plates printed in black or in various colors. In this copy subtly different colors are used for the 20 engravings: sepia, reddish sepia, olive green, bluish green, green, chocolate brown, warmer brown, etc. The printer created further differences between closely similar colors in part by leaving very faint residues of ink on some plates, creating a sort of tonal wash.

While Fossati’s architectural work, representing an early expression of neo-classicism, has received generally faint praise, even the most critical architectural historian has paid tribute to the meticulous nature of his work, and his architectural publications command respect. Similarly, while the draftsmanship of some of these engravings, especially of the human figures, may be found wanting, they are redeemed by the soaring spatial volumes of the dramatic scenes and above all by the fine color printing. Remarkably, no two color-printed copies of this book, or of Fossati’s other color-printed books, are alike, the plates being printed in different colors in different copies. Dr. Andrew Robison, who generously shared with us his knowledge of Venetian color printing, owns two copies of this work, in both of which the frontispiece border and portrait are printed “in reverse” compared to our copy, with the portrait in black and the border in sepia.

The book is surprisingly rare, and I locate no copies in American libraries. Outside Italy OCLC locates a copy at the Lyon Municipal Library. Of the 6 copies listed by ICCU in Italian libraries, only 3 appear to be complete. Morazzoni, Il Libro Illustrato Veneziano del Settecento, 232.
Item #4173

Price: $9,800.00

Status: On Hold