ROME 1729 -- OTTOBONI, Cardinal Pietro (1667-1740, Vice-Chancellor of the Church, Protector of France). Carlo Magno. Festa teatrale in occasione della nascità del Delfino. Offerta alle Sacre Reali Maestá Cristianissime del Re, e Regina di Francia. Rome: Antonio de' Rossi, 1729.
Large 2o (428 x 294 mm). Collation: a-b6, A-D6 E8; 13 etched plates by FILIPPO VASCONI, PAOLO PILAJA and others after cavaliere NICCOLÒ MICHETTI (fl. 1718, d. 1759). Etched frontispiece by Baldassare Gabbugiani after Michetti, title-vignette of the French royal arms, and engraved border of classical ornament by Gasparo Massi after cavaliere GIROLAMO ODAM (b. 1681) around title, all text pages and all plates.
EXTREMELY IMPORTANT ORIGINAL ROMAN WOVEN PRESENTATION BINDING of gold thread (the warp) and yellow silk (the weft), stretched over pasteboard, the sides decorated with pen-and-ink drawings by FRANCESCO TREVISANI (1656-1746) and/or SEBASTIANO CONCA (1680-1764) within wide elaborate Rococo borders of French Royal devices including suns, dolphins and fleurs-de-lis, the front cover showing two allegorical female figures (one holding a viol) approaching Charlemagne (or Louis XV) seated, the back cover an armed royal warrior kneeling before Mary (or Marie Leczynska), flat undecorated spine, gilt edges, (binding soiled, joints split, free endpapers removed). Provenance: MARIE LECZYNSKA (1703-68), Queen-Consort of France (married Louis XV in 1725), mother of Louis dauphin (1729-65) and grandmother of Louis XVI; A.R.A. Hobson (Sotheby's London, 10th November 1975, lot 62); Martin Breslauer Ltd. (sold to Gourary 1977).
DEDICATION COPY FROM CARDINAL OTTOBONI TO THE QUEEN OF FRANCE. The King's copy, similarly bound, was located in 1995 in a Lugano private collection. Both belong to the DE LUXE LARGE-PAPER ISSUE, with Odam's borders that could not be fitted on the ordinary paper. The quite magnificent binding fabric and the artists of the binding decoration drawn in pen-and-ink and brush are described in the 24th November 1729 entry of Francesco Valesio's Diario di Roma (1700-1742), ed. G. Scano, 6 vols. (Milan: 1977-79). See Flavia Matitti, "Due doni del cardinale Ottoboni alla Corona di Francia", in: Strenna dei Romanisti (18 April 1995) pp. 383-398.
The first performance of Ottoboni's opera/ballet took place in his own theater at the Chancery -- in a shortened version, before the dauphin was born and a male heir could only be hoped for - with machines and decoration by Domenico Vellani. This published illustrated libretto represents the more complete and splendid second production, with the sets by Michetti. Filippo Juvara was also associated with the workings of the Cardinal's theater (see F. Haskell, Patrons and Painters ). The music was by Giovanni Battista Costanzi, but is not reproduced here. Michetti's frontispiece shows Agostino Cornacchini's statue of Charlemagne in the portico of St. Peter's, a fashionable audience in the side-boxes and the orchestra in the pit. Berlin 4147; Sonneck p. 259; Watanabe 1022.