Oblong folio (15 3/8 x 18 3/8 inches). Extremely fine calligraphic manuscript title-page, dedication leaf. FULL PEN-AND-INK AND WATERCOLOUR DRAWING HEIGHTENED IN GOLD, showing the dedicatee Marie-Louise of Austria with classical attributes; and 53 superbly colour-printed and hand-coloured aquatint plates, each with hand-ruled black ink border, by various engravers after Sanquirico (minor small stain to inner blank margin of "Tempo di Giove" plate 46, not affecting the image). FINE ORIGINAL PRESENTATION BINDING of red straight-grained morocco, each cover elaborately decorated with gilt panels of neo-classical roll-tools, fillets, and repeated roundels with star and anthemion, the smooth spine tooled in seven compartments with abstract star designs, turn-ins gilt (head and foot of the spine and corners a bit scuffed, endpapers renewed).
Provenance: Presentation copy to Marie-Louise of Austria (1791-1847), Empress of France; with the bookplate of Calvin Bullock on the front paste-down, and shelfmarks at end; by descent to Katherine Seymour Bullock Cole.
A SPLENDID PRESENTATION COPY TO THE FORMER EMPRESS OF FRANCE OF A MASTERPIECE OF THE COLOUR AQUATINT AND A MILESTONE IN THE HISTORY OF OPERA AND STAGE DESIGN A MAGNIFICENT COPY, and an early compilation with an original watercolour drawing of the dedicatee Marie-Louise of Austria, unsigned, but by Sanquirico.
The superb and beautiful plates record Sanquirico's sets for scenes from operas and ballets performed at La Scala in the years 1812-1826. The paper is watermarked J. Whatman Turkey Mill, and dated 1816, 1824, and 1825. A number of bound or unbound suites are recorded with the prints uncoloured, and apparently only a handful were coloured by hand; probably expressly for presentation. The exceptional colouring of this copy indicates that it was executed by Sanquirico himself. Other presentation copies recorded were compiled after Sanquirico completed his tenure at Las Scala in 1832. Sanquirico, architect, decorator, restorer, inventor, and practiced artist of perspective and lighting was the chief scenic artist and stage designer at La Scala from 1817 to 1832. While there he instigated a new aesthetic of stage design that was to become indissolubly associated with the art of 19th-century grand opera, and which continued to influence operatic set dressing well into the 20th-century.
Sanquirico recorded all of his major stage designs in a series of meticulous aquatint engravings and disseminated them throughout Europe. They were often copied, and so were a major vehicle of his influence, which extended even to fashions in furniture, interior decoration, and clothing. Catalogued by Kate Hunter