(Accademia delle Belle Arti, Milano) Aluisetti, Giulio (draughtsman and engraver)

(The “Concorso d’Ornamenti” volume of “Opere dei grandi concorsi premiate dell’ I.R. Accademia delle Belle Arti in Milano. Disegnate ed incise per cura dell’architetto Giulio Aluisetti”).

Milano, Claudio Wilmant 1847.

Reference: 08825
Price: £1 [convert currency]

Full Description

Large folio. (28) (apparently ex 30)ff, (67) engraved plates (numbered I-XI, XIII-XV, XIX-XLV, XLVA, XLVI-LVI, LVIA, LVII-LXIX, plates XII and XVI-XVIII never issued), one unrelated double-page engraved plate numbered III also bound in by mistake after plate II. Contemporary quarter calf, worn at corners and spine neatly repaired.

The Accademia delle Belle Arti in Milan, founded in 1776, followed the example of other major European academies of art in awarding annual prizes for the best drawings submitted by students specialising respectively in architecture, painting, figure drawing and ornamental design. The competition drawings were preserved in the Accademia’s archives, and it was not until the beginning of the 1820s that a decision was taken to publish them in three complementary series, publishing the best of the prize-winning drawings from 1805 onwards in volumes devoted to architecture, ornament and “figura” (the last category including drawings by students studying painting, sculpture and engraving). The present volume, publishing in large format and accurate linear outline the winning drawings in most of the annual “Concorso d’Ornamenti” competitions between 1806 and 1841 (omitting 1807-10, 1812-3, 1830 and 1840, years for which the drawings seem either not to have survived or not to have been thought worth publication), provides an excellent overview of the work of the most talented students of the Accademia over a thirty-five year period. For each competition a different design project was set, and the range of project subjects for the Concorso d’Ornamenti includes fountains, monuments, secular and religious metalwork, fireplaces, doors, panelling and so on, all executed in the neo-classical style then fashionable. Competition winners included a number of students who went on to have successful careers as architects and designers in Milan and Lombardy, including two members of the Albertolli family, Francesco and Gaetano Durelli, and Domenico Moglia. The bibliography of the Opere dei Grandi Concorsi volumes is extremely complicated, as can be seen from the relevant catalogue note in the recent British Architectural Library Early Imprints Catalogue (BAL Cat 18). Essentially, publication began in 1821, and from that date onwards subscribers to the respective series received subsequent parts as and when they were issued. After publication of new parts ceased in the late 1830s or early 1840s (the last architecture competition covered was that of 1838 and the last ornament competition covered in the series proper was that of 1841), the Milan publisher Civelli acquired the coppers, and perhaps also any surviving sheet stock, and issued new editions of each volume with the imprint dates 1843. The present volume is of a slightly later reissue dated 1847 (more or less corresponding in its collation to that of the British Library copy of the edition of 1843 as described in the BAL Catalogue : our copy has the advantage over the British Library copy that it contains the correct plate XXIV, but it does not contain the two text leaves respectively describing the winning drawings for the years 1817 and 1818, or two added plates at the end, numbered LXX and LXXI, illustrating the winning drawings for the year 1843). What should however be stressed is that because of the period over which the original publication of these volumes took place, and the evident lack of care taken in putting together copies of subsequent printings in the 1840s, it is very difficult to find entirely complete copies of any of the volumes. Berlin Cat 604 (likewise an 1847 printing, and apparently with the same number of text leaves and plates as our copy – although the numbering of the plates in the Berlin copy goes up to LXXI – but with a different publisher’s imprint).

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