First German edition of »Le Antichità di Ercolano esposte«, 1777/99


Chr. G. Murr; G. Chr. Kilian et al.: Abbildungen der Gemälde und Alterthümer, welche (…) in der verschütteten Stadt Herkulaneum (…) an das Licht gebracht worden sind (…) 9 parts in 3 vol. With 638 (of 643) engravings. Augsburg, 1777-1799

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Christoph Gottlieb von Murr; Georg Christoph Kilian, Johann Baltasar Probst (pt. 7), Baltasar Friedrich Leitzelt (pt. 8.1., 8.2), ed., engr.: Abbildungen der Gemälde und Alterthümer, welche seit 1738 sowohl in der verschütteten Stadt Herkulaneum, als auch in den umliegenden Gegenden an das Licht gebracht worden, nebst ihrer Erklärung (...) Nach den Original-Kupferstichen in Contorni verfertigt und herausgegeben (...) 9 parts (1-7, 8.1, 8.2) in 3 volumes. With title vignettes in all parts (except for pt. 6) and 16 text illustrations, all in copper-engravings (of which 4 etched), as well as 638 (of 643) partly full-paged outline engravings on mostly folding plates. Augsburg: Christian Deckart and Christoph Friedrich Bürglen (pt. 8.1, 8.2), 1777-1799.

Folio. [10 (title, dedication, printer's privilege, preface)], 16; [4 (title, preface)], VI, 20; [2 (title)], 20; [2 (title)], 28; XVI (incl. title and preface], 31 [1 (Errata for pts. I-V); [4 (title, preface)], 36; [4 (title, preface of editor)], IV (preface of author)], 63 [1]; [2 (title)], XIV, 24; [2 (title)], 18 pages. Etching, copper engraving, outline engraving, wood-cut and letterpress, bound in contemporary leather covers on 5 raised bands over cardboards, with gilt spine titles on leather labels as well as end papers made of differently coloured and patterned paste papers.

First German edition of the first ever and profusely illustrated work about the excavations in Herculaneum, here in a fairly complete and solidly bound set.

Contents, Edition: »Le Antichità di Ercolano esposte« was published in 9 volumes in Naples between 1755 and 1792. "The illustrated volumes of antiquities published under direction of the Royal Herculaneum Society, founded in 1755, represent the first attempt at a systematic record of all the discoveries made during the excavations at Herculaneum carried out under the aegis of the King of the Two Sicilies, Charles III." (cf. Blackmer). The enterprising Augsburg based engraver and publisher Georg Christoph Kilian (1701-89) wanted to meet the broader European interest for the excavation project. As the Naples original had been published in a small and exclusive print run only and was therefore hard to obtain, Kilian made simplified outline engravings of the spectacular and mostly etched original engravings and gained the renown scholar Christoph Gottlieb von Murr (1733-1811) to describe each of the illustrations with the vigour of an art historian, resulting in present edition. Kilian simultaneously started to publish a German and an Italian edition (»Li Contorni delle pitture antiche d'Ercolano con le Spiegazioni incise d'apresso l'originale«, 1777-1802). Parts 1-6 of present German edition were published between 1777 and 1782. Parts 7, 8.1 and 8.2 and the supplement volume (VD18 90229312, missing in this set) followed in 1794-99 as extension to a second edition of parts 1-6 and were published by Kilian's grandson Christoph Friedrich Bürglen, who had inherited the copyrights (see publisher's note in pt. 7, p.3). Bürglen gained Johann Baltasar Probst and Friedrich Leitzelt as contributing engravers, the latter also acted as editor.

Condition: Present set contains 638 of 643 engravings (collated not after the quantity of plates or following the latin numbering of the publishers, but after the number of different engravings, as many plates depict 2 or more engravings and numbers are assigned several times). 5 engravings are missing, all of them depicting phallic objects or exposed genitals: pt 6, plates XCVI, XCVIII and XCIX; pt. 7, plates XXXIII, XXXIV). Copies of all missing plates are attached. Plates I and II of pt. 6 are double. – Leather covers worn, at edges and corners bumped, top and bottom of spines with old skilful repair; some of the plates slightly cut at margins; paper in parts slightly foxy and finger-stained, otherwise a well preserved copy.

Provenance: 1. Library of the Benedictine monastery Ochsenhausen (Germany), with a remark by the librarian in Latin, mentioning the Abbot of the monastery Romuald Weltin (1723-1805), dated 1791 and stamps of the library on title pages of parts 1, 4 and 7. The library was dissolved in 1825 by its owner, the Austrian Chancellor Klemens von Metternich. 2. Joseph Schönmann (1799-1879), Austrian painter, with his pen and ink signature on the title pages of parts 1, 4 and 7. Schönmann lived in Italy from 1832 to 1848, among other locations he visited Naples (and presumably also Ercolano) in 1834. On the second fly leaf recto Schönmann documented his purchase of present set: „20 Sendi. Rom. 1836. Schönmann.“ 3. A third, indecipherable owner also made his purchasing remark on the second fly leaf recto, underneath Schönmann's: „30 flor. [Gulden] Vienne 1873 ...“ 4. Georg Daumer. 5. Heinrich Lafite, with his owner's remark on the second fly leaf recto: „cca. 1890 von Georg Daumer übergegangen in den Besitz von Heinrich Lafite“.

References: (pt. 1) VD18 90081617, (pt. 2) VD18 90081625, (pt. 3) VD18 90081633 (pt. 4) VD18 90081641, (pt. 5) VD18 9008165X, (pt. 6) VD18 90081668, (pt. 7) VD18 90081676, (pt. 8.1.) VD18 90081684, (pt. 8.2) VD18 90081692; Blackmer 37 (see cf.); Borroni F. Il Cicognara. Bibliografia dell'archeologia classica e dell'arte italiana, no. 5433; Catalogo ragionato dei libri d'arte e d'antichità posseduti dal conte Cicognara, vol. 2, no. 2645; Ebert, F. A. Allgemeines Bibliographisches Lexikon, vol. 1, no. 11373 (dates the supplement with 1801); F. Thieme U., Becker F. Allgemeines Lexikon der Bildenden Künstler von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart, vol. 30 (1936), for Schönmann.