PIRANESI, Giovanni Battista (1720-1778). [Works, a composite set]. Rome: G.B. Piranesi and others, 1756-c.1767, comprising:
Volumes 1-4: Le Antichità romane. Rome: Bouchard and Gravier, 1756. I: Engraved frontispiece portrait of Piranesi by and after Felice Polanzani [cf. W.-E. p.81], etched double-page dedication [W.-E. 279, second state], headpiece [W.-E. 286], 6 initials [W.-E. 280-5], one illustration [W.-E. 287], 73 plates [bound: W.-E. 288-291, 2 plates of indices of fragments, 292-358]; II: title [W.-E. 359], double-page frontispiece [W.-E. 360], index, 58 plates [bound: W.-E. 361, 364-420]; III: title [W.-E. 421], double-page frontispiece [W.-E. 422], 52 plates [bound: W.-E. 423-40, plate XXI, 441, plates XXIV, XXIII, XXV-XXVI by G. Rossi, 442-469]; IV: title [W.-E. 470], double-page frontispiece [W.-E. 471], index, 54 plates [bound: W.-E. 472-3, 477-8, 475, 474, 476, 479-502, 504-513, 516-528]. Together 237 plates on 207 sheets, 7 folding double-page, 123 double-page, 2 folding. (5 plates creased, one plate with a neat early repair on the verso, lacking plates W.-E. 362-3 and 503.) Second edition, with the dedication to Lord Charlemont removed. Hind p. 83; Wilton-Ely D.II.
Volume 5: Diverse maniere d'adornare i cammini ed ogni altra parte degli edifizia desunte dall'architettura egizia, etrusca, greca. [Rome: c.1767]. Etched double-page title [W.-E. 815] and 50 plates [bound: W.-E. 823-5, 863, 859, 884 864, 885, 832-6, 868, 829, 856, 837-8, 877, 869, 839, 862, 830, 840, 871, 841-3, 872, 886, 884, 887, 845, 831, 846, 870, 827-8, 848, 873, 847, 849-55, 881, 879]. (A few plates lightly marked.) EARLY ISSUE. The plates for this work appear to have been etched and issued over a period of some years before the publication of the complete volume in 1769 (cf. Wilton-Ely Piranesi (1978), 243, a letter from Sir William Hamilton to Piranesi of 3 October 1767 indicating that individual plates were in circulation and 244, a letter from Piranesi to Thomas Hollis of 18 November 1768 accompanying 57 proof plates from the work). In addition to the plates present here, the volume published in 1769 contained a prefatory letterpress discourse on Egyptian and Etruscan architecture, three plates inserted into the text of the essay, and 21 further plates of designs; the absence of the letterpress and the 24 other plates, the lack of numbers on some plates, and the smaller number of plates than those sent to Hollis in 1768 suggest that this set was assembled c.1767. Hind p.86; Wilton-Ely F.I.
Volume 6: Opera varie di archittetura, prospettive, grotteschi, antichità, comprising: Prima parte di archittetura [bound: Robison 1.IV, 2.III, 3.III, 5.IV, 15.IV, 16.I, 17.III, 19.II, 20.III, 18.II, 6.III, 7.V (with cancellans caption pasted on), 8.IV, 9.II, 10.III, 11.IV, 12.IV]. Robison's 2nd edition, 5th issue; Opere varie di archittetura [bound: W.-E. 746, 46-7, 747, 49, 48, 745, 748, 50, 738 (third state), 44-5]; Grotteschi [bound: Robison 21.II, 22.III, 23.III, 24.II]. Robison's 2nd edition, 4th issue; Carceri d'invenzione [bound: Robison 29.VII, 43.IV, 30.IV, 31.IV, 44.II, 32.V, 33.IV, 34.IV, 35.VI, 36.IV, 37.V, 38.IV, 39.IV, 40.IV, 41.V, 42.IV] Robison's 2nd edition, 3rd issue. Rome: G.B. Piranesi, '1750' [but c. late 1760s-c.1770]. Title printed in red and black with etched vignette [Robison 28.II], 49 plates on 44 sheets, 18 double-page. Hind pp. 78-81; Robison Early Architectural Fantasies 'Catalogue'; Wilton-Ely B.I, B.V, B.II, B.IV. [Bound with:] Trofei di Ottaviano Augusto innalzati per la vittoria ad Actium e conquista dell'Egitto. [Rome: Bouchard, 1753.] 8 plates, 6 double-page, with 2 additional plates from Vasi [bound: W.-E. 272, 271, 935-6, 274, 273, 276, 278, 275, 277]. (Lacking title.) Hind pp. 82-3; Wilton-Ely D.I. [And:] Antichità romane de' tempi della repubblica, e de' primi imperatori. Rome: G.B. Piranesi, . 2 parts bound in one volume, 2 etched part-titles [W.-E. 103 and 119], dedication leaf [W.-E. 104], leaf of inscriptions [W.-E. 105], leaf of inscriptions and index [W.-E. 106], and 25 plates [including the 'Arco di Galieno'] after G.B. Piranesi  and Israel Sylvestre  [W.-E. 108-118 and 120-133]. The title was changed to Alcune vedute di archi trionfali after 1761 and before 1778. Hind pp. 75-6; Wilton-Ely CIII.
Volume 7: Della magnificenza ed archittetura de' romani. Rome: [?G.B. Piranesi], 1761. Etched titles in Latin and Italian [W.-E. 753-4], portrait frontispiece by Piranesi and D. Cunego after Piranesi [W.-E. 755], 2 tailpieces [W.-E. 759-60], 3 initials [W.-E. 756-8], 40 plates on 38 sheets, 4 folding double-page, 8 double-page [W.-E. 761-98]. Wilton-Ely E.II; Hind pp. 84-5. [Bound with:] Osservazioni ... sopra la lettre de M. Mariette. Rome: [?G.B. Piranesi], 1765. Etched title [W.-E. 799], 3 headpieces [W.-E. 800-1 and 803], tailpieces [W.-E. 802 and 804], full-page illustration [W.-E. 805] and 3 (of 4) plates [W.-E. 806-8]. (Small losses to the plates caused by dampstaining.) This copy does not contain the five additional plates which were included in copies issued after 1768. Hind p. 86 (noting that this work was normally bound as a supplement to Della magnificenza ed archittetura de' romani); Wilton-Ely E.III.
Volume 8: Lapides capitolini. Rome: G.B. Piranesi, [?1762]. Etched title [W.-E. 553], dedication [W.-E. 554], one headpiece [W.-E. 555], 3 tailpieces [W.-E. 556-7 and 739 (second state with quotation in cartouche)] and one folding double-page plate [W.-E. 558]. Half-title. Hind p. 85; Wilton-Ely D.IV. [Bound with:] Antichità di Cora. [Rome: ?1764]. Etched title [W.-E. 671], one headpiece [W.-E. 672], one full-page illustration [W.-E. 673], 11 plates on 10 sheets, one folding double-page, 6 double-page [bound: W.-E. 674-84]. Half-title. Hind p. 85; Wilton-Ely D.IX. [And:] Le Rovine del Castello dell'Acqua Giulia. [Rome]: G.B. Piranesi, [?1761]. Etched title [W.-E. 529], 2 tailpieces [W.-E. 532-3], 2 initials [W.-E. 530-1], 20 plates on 18 sheets [bound: W.-E. 534-551, 269, 552]. Half-title. Hind p. 85 (noting a letterpress imprint on title, not present here); Wilton-Ely D.III.
Volume 9: Campius Martius antiquae urbis Romae. Rome: G.B. Piranesi, 1762. Etched title [W.-E. 559], frontispiece [W.-E. 560], 2 headpieces [W.-E. 563-4], 2 tailpieces [W.-E. 565-6], 2 initials [W.-E. 561-2] and 46 maps and plates on 42 sheets, one double-page, 2 folding double-page [bound: W.-E. 567-612]. One folding double-page plate by Arnold van Westerhout after Francesco Fontana. Text in Latin and Italian. (Clean tear on D1, small losses on 4 plates caused by dampstaining.) Hind p. 85; Wilton-Ely D.V.
Volume 10: Antichità d'Albano e di Castel Gandolfo. Rome: [?G.B. Piranesi], 1764. Etched title [W.-E. 638], double-page dedication [W.-E. 639], one headpiece [W.-E. 641], one initial [W.-E. 640], 28 plates on 27 sheets, 11 double-page, one folding double-page [bound: W.-E. 642-669]. Half-title. This copy without the final plate (no. XXVII, which, Wilton-Ely notes, was added to copies issued after April 1769. Hind p. 86; Wilton-Ely D.VIII. [Bound with:] Descrizione e disegno dell'emissario del Lago Albano. [Rome: ?G.B. Piranesi, 1762-4]. Etched title [W.-E. 613], tailpiece [W.-E. 615], initial [W.-E. 614], 9 plates, 7 double-page, one folding double-page [bound: W.-E. 616-624]. Hind p. 85; Wilton-Ely D.VI. [And:] Di due spelonche ornate dagli antichi alla riva del Lago Albano. [Rome: ?G.B. Piranesi, 1762-1764.] Etched headpiece [W.-E. 625], 12 plates, one folding double-page, 5 double-page [bound: W.-E. 626-37]. Hind p. 86; Wilton-Ely D.VII.
Volume 11: Vedute di Roma [Rome: G.B. Piranesi, c.1767.]. 68 loose double-page etchings (only) from the series [Hind 1.III, 4.III, 5.IV, 6.IV, 7.III, 8.III, 9.III, 10.II, 11.II, 12.II, 13.I, 14.III, 15.IV, 16.IV, 17.IV, 18.IV, 19.III, 20.II, 21.II, 22.II, 23.I, 24.II, 25.II, 26.II, 27.III, 28.IV, 30.I, 31.II, 33.III, 34.III, 35.III, 36.I, 38.II, 39.III, 40.III, 42.III, 44.III, 45.III, 47.III, 48.II, 49.III, 52.III, 54.III, 55.I, 56.III, 57.I, 58.IV, 59.III, 60.I, 63.I, 64.I, 66.I, 67.I, 68.I, 69.I, 70.I, 71.I, 72.I, 73.I, 74.I, 75.I, 76.I, 77.I, 78.III, 79.I, 80.I, 81.I]. (Removed from guards, some trimmed or folded at margins for framing, some etchings with marginal traces of adhesive tape from previous framing.) Hind pp. 30-73; Wilton-Ely C.IV.
11 volumes, 2° (580 x 450mm). (Some light dampstaining, generally marginal but affecting some text and plates, more severe on Vedute di Roma.) Volumes 1-10 bound in contemporary Italian half vellum over marbled paper boards, titled and numbered in gilt on the spines and further numbered in ink in an 18th-century hand, UNCUT, PLATES RETAINING THEIR DECKLES (damaged by damp, causing some loss of marbled paper, some vellum cornerpieces and corners of pasteboard, some tears on spines causing losses on 3, spine partially detached on another); volume 11 disbound and contained in two 20th-century portfolios. Provenance: Joseph Smith, British Consul at Venice (1682-1770, engraved bookplates on upper pastedowns (probably acquired directly from Piranesi), [?]his sale, 25 January 1773, lot 2, [?]sold to:) -- Sir Christopher Sykes, 2nd baronet, Sledmere House (1749-1801, and by descent).
THE CONSUL SMITH-SIR CHRISTOPHER SYKES SET OF PIRANESI'S WORKS, COMPRISING ALL OF THE ARTIST'S WORKS PUBLISHED BEFORE 1768, except the Lettere di giustificazione of 1757, a lacuna made good by Sykes through his purchase of the Pinelli copy in 1789 (cf. the previous lot).
Joseph Smith (1682-1770) left Britain at the age of 18 for Venice, where he pursued a successful and lucrative career as a merchant, and in 1744 he was appointed British consul at Venice (a post which he held until 1760), and was thereafter generally known as Consul Smith. A knowledgeable and voracious collector and connoisseur, in the field of fine arts Smith was a patron of contemporary Italian vedutisti -- particularly Giovanni Antonio Canale, Il Canaletto (with whom Smith had a close relationship, both as a patron and informal agent), Francesco Zuccarelli, and Giuseppe Zais, three leading proponents of the mid-18th-century Venetian school of landscape artists -- while in other fields Smith's collecting encompassed printed books and manuscripts, prints, coins, and gems. The formation and development of Smith's library can be traced through a series of catalogues which he published privately in limited editions; his Catalogus librorum rarissimorum was first published in c.1735 and a second, augmented edition appeared in c.1737, succeeded by the Bibliotheca Smithiana in 1755. Following financial setbacks in the 1750s, Smith sold most of his art collection to King George III in 1762, and in 1765 the King purchased Smith's library en bloc for £10,000.
Following this first dispersal, Smith continued to collect, and his remarkable set of Piranesi's Works -- which was most probably acquired directly from the artist by Smith -- belonged to his second collection, formed between 1765 and his death in 1770. The set can be dated with some precision to 1767-8 on the basis of internal evidence; a firm terminus post quem is provided by Osservazioni ... sopra la lettre de M. Mariette (vol. 7, dated 1765) and can be advanced to 1767 by the collection of Vedute di Roma, the latest of which, 'Veduta interna dell' antico Tempio di Bacco', is dated to 1767 by Hind, while a terminus ante quem can be deduced from Diverse maniere d'adornare i cammini (vol. 5) and Antichità d'Albano e di Castel Gandolfo (vol. 10), both present in forms predating those in which they were issued in 1769. Following Smith's death in 1770, his collections were shipped to England for sale, and the library sold in two parts in 1773. Lot 1 of the first auction was 'The whole works of that great modern artist ... Piranesi ..., 11 vols ... compleat to the present time, bound in Russia leather' and lot 2 was 'Another copy, 11 vols, fine impression of the plates' -- presumably the present, vellum-bound set. (Volume 11, containing the Vedute di Roma, appears to have been disbound in order to rebind the plates in an oblong broadsheet format, and subsequently disbound once more, in order to frame some of the etchings; cf. lot 127 for another set of the Vedute di Roma rebound in an oblong broadsheet format during the 19th century.)
Whilst Joseph Smith was one of the most important influences on the formation of the neo-classical tastes of English 18th-century collectors and connoisseurs through his promotion of the Italian vedutisti to 'Grand Tourists' travelling in Italy and patrons such as King George III in England, Sir Christopher Sykes Bt stands out as a remarkable example of an Enlightenment 'renaissance man', equally well-versed in the arts as in the sciences. In the course of his education at Brasenose College, Oxford, where he studied history, law, French, drawing, music, mathematics, botany and astronomy, Christopher Sykes was already assembling collections to increase his knowledge and inform his taste. Writing to his father in 1770, he could itemise his acquisitions thus: 'a very valuable collection of books in most branches of sciences; a much admired collection of prints of the best Masters which will be in infinite use in drawing & in forming a pure & just taste; a collection of coins not to be despised; mathematical instruments & many miscellaneous things of less moment, with a set of beautiful specimens of the various kinds of fossils collected by a man the most famous in the fossil world' (quoted in: C.S. Sykes, The Big House (London: 2004), p.41). Following his marriage on 23 October 1770 to Elizabeth Tatton, Christopher Sykes continued to augment his collections and to acquire pieces to decorate the couple's new home, Wheldrake Hall (purchasing, inter alia, pictures to the value of £82. 8s and £63 at Mr Christie's in February 1771). Later in 1771, Christopher Sykes began the work that would occupy the rest of his life, and remains the greatest testament to the application of all that he had learnt of the fine and applied arts -- the rebuilding and development of Sledmere, the family seat in the East Riding of Yorkshire.
The house built in 1751 by Christopher Sykes' uncle Richard Sykes (1706-1761) was the centre of a large estate, and it was to the surrounding land that Christopher Sykes first turned his attentions, landscaping it, and building three new farms -- one designed by the architect John Carr and the other two by Christopher Sykes himself, who was becoming increasingly confident in his abilities as an architect. These initial improvements were followed by other developments and alterations before the death of Sir Mark Sykes Bt in 1783, when the estate and title passed to his son. Sir Christopher now turned his attention to the house itself and in 1787 he began work on the construction of a new house around the original building of 1751. Although both John Carr and Samuel Wyatt put forward plans for a new house, the design eventually executed was Sir Christopher's (which integrated elements from the two professional architects' work); equally, Joseph Rose's interiors for Sledmere were very much the product of collaboration between the patron and his plasterer and friend. The finished building -- widely recognised and lauded as one of the great 18th-century English country houses -- is a remarkable testament to Sir Christopher's great abilities as an architect, and the purity and justness of his taste. It seems probable that this set of Piranesi's works would have been valued by its owner not only for its intrinsic aesthetic worth, but also as a tremendously rich source of architectural inspiration. For example, Piranesi's etchings of ancient Roman edifices cannot have been far from Sir Christopher's mind during the construction of the Gallery, a room 'two storeys high and running the entire length of the south front of the the house, a distance of 120 feet, ... divided into three great cross-vaulted compartments, inspired by such Roman buildings as the Baths of Diocletian and Caracalla, soaring upwards into the roof space' (C.S. Sykes, op. cit., p.71). Joseph Rose was also a connoisseur of Piranesi's work -- see, for example, two architectural drawings by Piranesi purchased from the artist in Rome by Rose in 1770, presumably given to Sir Christopher by him, and sold in these rooms, 4 July 1989, lots 104 and 105 -- and much of the detailing of the interior is clearly informed by Sir Christopher and Joseph Rose's knowledge of designs by Piranesi, such as those included in Diverse maniere d'adornare i cammini (vol. 5).
Thus, THE PROVENANCE OF THE CONSUL SMITH-SIR CHRISTOPHER SYKES SET OF PIRANESI'S WORKS IS OF THE GREATEST INTEREST. In Smith's library it formed part of the collections of one of the great 'Grand Tour' bibliophiles and arbiters of taste, while in Sir Christopher Sykes' library the neo-classical ideals and aesthetic agenda that Piranesi propounded found expression in one of the finest examples of the English 18th-century country house -- the art form which was one of the most remarkable legacies of the 18th-century English fascination with the art and architecture of ancient Rome. (12)