Finely engraved added allegorical title-page & added engraved port. of the author, 158 engraved plates (numbered 1-54; 1-42; 1-25; 1-15; 1-17; 1-5), five engraved headpieces & four tailpieces in the text, and several finely engraved initials. 8 p.l., 127,  pp., 1 leaf of errata. Folio, cont. red morocco, gilt arms of Nicolas-Joseph Foucault on covers, panelled in gilt, spine gilt, a.e.g. Rome: J.J. Komarek, 1690.
First edition, and a splendid copy in handsome contemporary red morocco with the arms of Nicolas Joseph Foucault, of a “sumptuous work describing and depicting upon the excellent engraved plates a large variety of ancient Roman objects…”–Sinkankas, Gemology, 1194.
La Chausse (1660-1724), the famed antiquarian and diplomat, transformed his hobby of collecting antiquities into the science of archaeology while living in Rome. He amassed one of the most impressive collections of antiquities, many of which are illustrated and described in the present work. A century later, Leopold Cicognara held the present work in great esteem, citing it frequently.
This book, a predecessor of the archaeological manual, presents a detailed inventory of ancient objects including coins, engraved marble, gems and stones, knives and receptacles used in ritual sacrifices, sculptures (some from Egypt), vases, insignia, lamps, objects with phallic motifs, etc. The descriptions by La Chausse provide historical and religious context for each item, as well as explanations of their uses. He not only classifies them but also compares the objects within these categories, thereby reaching conclusions about objects for which he is not sure of their practical application. La Chausse’s observations represent some of the earliest examples of a systematic approach to the description of antiquities.
Both the added title-page and portrait were engraved by Nicolo Billy (active 1689-1747). Pietro Santo Bartoli (ca. 1615-1700), who first studied painting under P. Lemaire and Poussin, executed the 158 plates of various antiquities.
A very fine and handsome copy, from the Macclesfield Library. Engraved bookplate of Nicolas Joseph Foucault (1643-1721), high government official and bibliophile, and engraved bookplate of “North Library.”
❧ Benezit, Dictionary of Artists, Vol. 1, p. 1238 (Bartoli) & Vol. 2, p. 489 (Billy, the Elder). Georges Brunel, “Michael-Ange de la Chausse,” in Publications de l’Ecole française de Rome, 1981, Vol. 52, No. 1, pp. 723-47.
Item ID: 6005