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Rare complete first edition of Visentini's print series with views of Venice after Canaletto,
"crucial to forming the image of Venice in the mind of its visitors"

Urbis Venetiarum prospectus celebriores, ex Antonii Canal tabulis XXXVIII.
Venice, Joannem Baptistam Pasquali, 1742. 3 parts in 1 volume. Oblong folio (ca. 36.5 x 52.5 cm). With 3 letterpress title-pages printed in red and black with engraved vignettes by Visentini, the original engraved title-page for the first series (Prospectus Magni Canali), a double portrait of Canaletto and Visentini by Visentini after Giovanni Battista Piazetta and and XIV, XII and XII numbered engraved prints with familiar views based upon 38 paintings by Canaletto, engraved by Visentini, showing the Grand Canal, public buildings, renowned places in Venice and regatta scenes. Contemporary half morocco, brown paper sides, manuscript title (?) and two old shelfmarks on the spine. [8]; [1]; [1] ll. plus the part-title, double portrait and XIV, XII, XII prints.
€ 45,000
First complete edition of a series of engraved views of Venice by Visentini after Canaletto's paintings, which were in the collection of the book collector, patron of the arts and British Consul of Venice Joseph Smith (ca. 1673/4-1770). Canaletto, also known as Giovanni Antonio Canal (1697-1768) was an Italian painter renowned for his paintings depicting Venice and its canals. Visentini's plates are not only the best known among the many engravings made after Canaletto's famous views of Venice, but also the best and most influential: "crucial to forming the image of Venice in the mind of its visitors" (Millard). The British Consul Smith commissioned the painter, engraver and architect Antonio Visentini (1688-1782), connected to the Academia and to the artistic and publishing circle around Smith, to engrave the plates after Canalettos paintings.
The series of 38 plates is divided into three suites of respectively XIV, XII and XII numbered prints, each suite with its own letterpress title-page. The first set of plates is entirely focussed on the Grand Canal, as is promised by the original title-page, the Prospectus Magni Canali. The prints of the second suite particularly show the banks of the Grand Canal. The third suite shows views of campi and the Piazza San Marco. Besides Saint Mark's Basilica itself and the Piazza we see for example the campo of Santi Giovanni e Paolo, the Piazza San Polo and San Niccolo on the Lido. All prints are captioned in Italian.
The present 1742 edition is the first to include all 38 prints of the complete three suites, but Visentini had completed and published the first suite of views already in 1735. The present complete series proved very succesfull, with further editions in 1751, 1754 and 1773. Even in the 19th century it ran through new editions: an 1833 edition with French and Italian captions was reprinted in 1838. The present first edition of the complete series is quite rare: we have traced only 6 copies worldwide in WorldCat and it rarely appears on the market.
Binding a little rubbed: spine a little damaged, paper sides frayed around the edges and chipped in the right lower corner of the front board, boards a little stained. Bookblock slightly loose in the binding. Some marginal tears professionally repaired. Prints only slightly browned along the edges of the margins, but otherwise in very good condition. The rare complete first edition of one of the most influential print series in shaping the image of Venice. Kat. Ornamentstichsammlung Berlin 2695; Millard, Italian 153; WorldCat (6 copies in 5 entries); for Canaletto: Thieme & Becker V, pp. 455-486; for Visentini: Thieme & Becker XXIX, p. 419.
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