Probaly Venice: the illustrations date from 1795 to 1825.
An exquisite suite of watercolours, including a beautiful series of scenes documenting a Venetian commedia dell'arte troupe, by the Italian artist Francesco Novelli. Francesco Novelli (1767-1836), one of the preeminent artists of his generation, lived in Venice where he was best known for his outstanding book illustration. He enjoyed a long and successful career that culminated in the landmark editions of Don Quixote (1819) and Gil Blas (1820). Novelli is also known for illustrating works such as the Fasti Veneziani (1794), hinting at his abiding interest in the theatre and the performing arts. In this unmatched collection of Novelli's watercolours, the greatest number are piquant images of a troupe of the commedia dell'arte, with especially fine depictions of Pierrot himself, as well as other key figures such as Columbine and Harlequin. There is a remarkable series of scenes from a play, as well as studies of individual performers, many so precisely rendered that it is almost certain Novelli is depicting a known troupe. The remaining images cover all aspects of contemporary life, including several military vignettes (perhaps scenes from the diorama) as well as charming rural scenes. Several show Novelli's work at its most sympathetic, especially in his studies of street vendors and town squares. Many of these scenes derive from a period when the troupe was on the road. Some of the liveliest paintings depict street performers, conjurors and Punch and Judy shows. Unpublished, although the compilation of the album suggests this might have been Novelli's original intention. An exceptional collection, incomparably rare, and providing a wonderful insight into Italian theatre of the Golden Age.Item #1246
Small oblong quarto, 185 x 275mm, a beautiful album containing 46 fine watercolours of various sizes and shapes ranging from delicate circular vignettes to larger scenes of urban and theatrical life, elegantly bound in nineteenth-century ochre morocco, ornately gilt.