POLENI, Giovanni (1683-1761). Memorie istoriche della gran cupola del Tempio Vaticano, e de' danni di essa, e de' ristoramenti loro. Padua: stamperia del Seminario, 1748. 2° (433 x 305mm). Engraved title-vignette, arms of Benedict XIV, the dedicatee, on following leaf and 28 plates, 19 folding, 9 with letterpress explanation on verso, half-title (trifling worming in first and last few leaves touching a letter or two, occasional light foxing). Contemporary Italian vellum. Spine in gilt on spine, sprinkled edges (a little worming, extremities rubbed, corners worn). Provenance: A.N. (small contemporary circular stamp on title).
In 1748 Pope Benedict summoned Giovanni Poleni, then at the height of his fame, to inspect the damage to St Peter's and this is the result of his examinations. Poleni, who was an expert in philosophy, ancient languages, theology, mathematics, astronomy, physics and architecture, among other subjects, was appointed professor of astronomy at the University of Padua at the age of twenty-five and then of mathematics seven years later. As an expert in hydraulic architecture his services were sought all over Europe. At his death the Paduans erected a statue to him, one of the first works of Canova, and Venice struck a medal in his honour. There is a measure of confusion over the correct number of plates: Cicognara calls for 27, Riccardi 29 and Olschki mentions both but records the correct number as 28. Cicognara 3842; Riccardi II, 297 'Bella e rara edizione'; Olschki Choix, 17835.