text with engravings of architecture--building facades, obelisks, monuments, aerial views; several fold-out pages; white cover with pale leather spine

Della Trasportatione dell' Obelisco Vaticano, 1590

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2017 Accession Highlight

In ancient times, a massive Egyptian obelisk was brought to Rome and set up in what would eventually become known as the Circle of Nero. In 1585, Pope Sixtus V wanted to move the 340-ton stone needle so that it would stand before the newly rebuilt St. Peter’s Basilica, a voyage of approximately 1,000 feet. Unfortunately, the ancient knowledge of how to move such a massive object had been forgotten. A competition brought forth hundreds of ideas on how to do it, many of which would have been disastrous if attempted. The winner was Domenico Fontana, who went on to complete the task with great success. In this book he describes and illustrates in detail the amazing process, which involved the synchronized labor of hundreds of men and horses.

This is the first work by either Domenico Fontana or the engraver Natale Bonifacio in Mia’s collection. It is a fine addition to our growing collection of books that would have been of interest to artists. This book goes to the heart of Renaissance thought and ingenuity, both in the text and the 38 plates. Vivid imagery brings to life the ambition, inventiveness, complexity, and scale of Fontana’s most famous project: moving the obelisk to where it still stands in the center of St. Peter’s Square. Additional plates cast light on his many other projects that aided Sixtus V in his transformation of Rome into a modern city.

text with engravings of architecture--building facades, obelisks, monuments, aerial views; several fold-out pages; white cover with pale leather spine