Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae: Temples on the Isle of Tiber

Speculum Romae Magnificentiae
Nicolaus van Aelst (Flemish, Brussels 1526–1613 Rome)
16th century
Engraving and etching
sheet: 13 7/8 x 18 5/16 in. (35.3 x 46.5 cm) mount: 16 3/4 x 22 1/8 in. (42.6 x 56.2 cm)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, Transferred from the Library, 1941
Accession Number:
Not on view
This print comes from the museum’s copy of the Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae (The Mirror of Roman Magnificence) The Speculum found its origin in the publishing endeavors of Antonio Salamanca and Antonio Lafreri. During their Roman publishing careers, the two foreign publishers - who worked together between 1553 and 1563 - initiated the production of prints recording art works, architecture and city views related to Antique and Modern Rome. The prints could be bought individually by tourists and collectors, but were also purchased in larger groups which were often bound together in an album. In 1573, Lafreri commissioned a title page for this purpose, which is where the title ‘Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae’ first appears. Lafreri envisioned an ideal arrangement of the prints in 7 different categories, but during his lifetime, never appears to have offered one standard, bound set of prints. Instead, clients composed their own selection from the corpus to be bound, or collected a group of prints over time. When Lafreri died, two-third of the existing copper plates went to the Duchetti family (Claudio and Stefano), while another third was distributed among several publishers. The Duchetti appear to have standardized production, offering a more or less uniform version of the Speculum to their clients. The popularity of the prints also inspired other publishers in Rome to make copies however, and to add new prints to the corpus.

The museum’s copy of the Speculum entered the collection as a group of 3 albums with inlaid engravings and etchings. The prints have since been removed, but the original place of each print within the album is contained in the accession number: 41.72(

Originally volume 1, plate 24 in the scrapbook.
Inscription: At top center: Greek inscription spread in two columns / INSVLA TIBERINA
At bottom center: Essendo sacciato da Roma Tarquinio Superbo gli tenendo che fosse cosa abbominevole magiar il suo formento che all'hora haveva parte tagliato, et parte era da tagliarse nel campo tiberino, lo gettorno nel fevere con la paglia che per la staggione / calda et il fiume basso insieme con altre brulture fece massa et diviene isola la quale puoi con industria et arte fù formata in forma di nave, et fù chiamata insola de Giove licaonio, dal suo: tempio che vi fù edificato gli furno anchora doi altri tempij uno de Esculapio, la'ltro de fauno, con / molti stupendi edificij, Era di longhezza de un'quarto de miglio, et larghezza de cinquanta passi / Nicola Van Aelst Formis Roma
Labeling the buildings on the island from left to right: HOSPITALIS / TEMP ESCVLAPII / T BERE / CINTHIAE / TEMP IOVIS LICAONII / T FAVNI

Marking: On verso at center: The Metropolitan Museum of Art stamp
H. P. Kraus
Huelsen 110C; Quaritch Catalogue 23
Peter Parshall "Antonio' Lafreri's 'Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae'" Print Quarterly. 1, London, 2006.

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