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Leonardo’s Last Supper
in all its Facets
Giuseppe Bossi’s Monumental Luxury Edition
Leonardo – Bossi, Giuseppe. Del Cenacolo di Leonardo da Vinci. Libri quattro. Milan, Stamperia Reale, 1810. Large fol. (18½ × 12⅝ in [47 × 32 cm]). 263, (1) pp. With
frontispiece & 6 copper plates ,
3 of which printed in bistre ,
after drawings of Leonardo’s. Contemporary dark brown h. leather with 5 raised bands with gilt fillets, leather corners with blind fillet and brown marbled covers. Uncut.
Thieme-Becker IV, 406; Brunet I, 1129; Graesse I, 501; Cicognara 3373; Verga 298 (“Un monumento mirabile di erudizione e di critica”). – In Italian. – Printed on strong vélin, now and then watermarked GFA. – Free endpapers and preliminary title slightly creased and a little soiled in the lower right corner (front) and far left edge (back) resp.
First and only edition
of the essential monumental monograph
on Leonardo’s Last Supper fresco
in the refectory of Santa Maria della Grazie in Milan. Created 1495-97 in an oil-tempera mixture onto the dry plaster – and in such a manner not really a fresco strictly speaking – the painting soon showed damages, and no 60 years later Vasari described it as a “jumble of spots”. After first attempts of repairing in the 18th century it was damaged further by French occupation forces of the revolution and Napoleonic period, who used the refectory as armory. In the course of a comprehensive restoration between 1978 and 1999 the painting was restored in accordance with current scientific knowledge and stabilized:
(Jack Wassermann, Leonardo da Vinci, 1990, p. 15).
As quintessence of his works
for the life-size copy commissioned by Eugène Beauharnais
documenting every known facet of the monumental painting ,
Bossi’s as splendid as scientifically sound publication
brought the Last Supper back into the awareness of the educational travelers – not least Goethe, who, as Stendhal, too, owned a copy of present monograph annotated – , for whom from now on a pilgrimage to Milan was requisite:
(Susanna Zatti and Andreas Stolzenburg in Allgemeines Künstler-Lexikon XIII , p. 218).
Introduction and short biography of Leonardo followed by 60 pages chronological presentation of references to the Last Supper in literature from Luca Paciolo (1498) to Luigi Lanzi (1809). In the second book (part) description of the fresco in general as well as in detail of Christ and the twelve disciples, the place and the damages (51 pp.). The third book presenting the numerous copies up to printed renderings and imitations (42 pp.), followed by extensive treatment of the copy made for Beauharnais (21 pp.). Rounded off in the fourth book finally by a study of Leonardo’s manner of working and preparations of both technical and historical kind (53 pp.) and annotations & contents (22 pp.).
The plates worked in copper by Giuseppe Benaglia (Monza about 1766 or 1796 – Milan about 1830/35), Giuseppe Longhi (Monza 1766 – Milan 1831) and Francesco Rosaspina (Monte Scùdolo, Rimini, 1762 – Bologna 1841) rendering
the rather portrait-like highly interesting head of Christ
with suggested crown of thorns and another hand in the back hair
after a drawing of Leonardo’s — head of a young man with rich hair, in roulette technique printed in bistre after a red chalk drawing attributed to Cesare da Sesto (Sesto Calende? 1477 – Milan 1523) — head of an elderly man to the right and left (in brown) resp. after drawings of Leonardo’s now preserved in Venice (a further sheet of the same head, again to the left, on blue paper within the Anatomical Studies at Windsor) — Homo Vitruvianus, now likewise Venice — a charming group with St. Anna, the virgin with child & lamb.
As frontispiece finally – roulette engraving printed in reddish brown – full-page (15⅞ × 10⅞ in [40.3 × 27.5 cm])
Leonardo’s magnificent old age portrait
as the only known self-portrait :
(Jack Wassermann, op. cit., p. 28).
Recently doubted by some and even decried as fake of Bossi’s, the critics at least miss that with regard to the features criticized as being to old for Leonardo deceased at the age of 67 the drawing corresponds with Plato personified indeed by Leonardo in Raphael’s fresco The School of Athens created about 1810 – thus still very much in Leonardo’s lifetime (1452-1519). Present engraving worked by Benaglio not immediately from the original drawing, but a copy by Raffaele Albertolli (Bedano 1770 – Milan 1812), considered an “excellent draughtsman” (Allgemeines Künstler-Lexikon II , p. 111).
BOSSI (1777-1815), pupil of i. a. Martin Knoller and Andrea Apiani at the Milan Academy, received an Academy prize in 1801 after returning from further studies in Rome.
(E. Verga in Thieme-Becker IV , p. 406).
Praised by current literature still two centuries after its publication:
(Pietro C. Marani, Leonardo: The Last Supper , p. 27).
Here then present in wonderfully wide-margined ,
practically snow-white copy uncut on three sides
in contemporary dark brown half leather :
Giuseppe Bossi’s Monumental Last Supper Monograph
on Leonardo’s Monumental Last Supper Fresco .
Offer no. 29,001 / EUR 2300. / export price EUR 2185. (c. US$ 2652.) + shipping