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Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae: The Fate of Dirce

Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae
Georges Reverdy (French, active Lyon, 1529–57)
sheet: 19 9/16 x 14 3/16 in. (49.7 x 36 cm) mount: 22 1/16 x 16 7/8 in. (56 x 42.8 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 2, plate 74 in the scrapbook.
Inscription: At lower left: Eugenius Blaneus Placents disegnant CRF
In margin: ZETVS, et Amphiori Luci Thebanorum Regis ex Antiopa uxore nati, matrem ulcisci volentes; Dircem cuius cause ipsorum genitrix à Rege invincula coiecta fuerat, ad Tauri comua / crimbus alligatum in fontem proieceruit, ut Apollodorus de Deorum origine scriptum reliquit, et Propertius meminit his uerbis, pueriq trahendam uinxerunt Dircem stb trucis ara / bouis , quam historiam veluti hic delineatam aspicis, Apollonius, et Tauriscus sculpserunt; et Romae a Rhodo advectam, inter monumenta Asinÿ Pollionis servatam asserit, / Plinius quod opus in Thermis Anoniams repertus multis in locis fractum, a Paulo III Pont. Max. in suo Palatio translatum; tum iussu Illustriss ac Reverndiss Card Faneÿ eius / nepoti a Io Baptista Blanco Mediolanensi instauratum. Et profectio prae alis omnibus sculpturis est admirabilis, tum ob lapidis magnitudinem: quatuordecim enim palmorum / longitudinis totidema latitudinis continet altitudines ucro alcem et octo, cum ob admirabile antificium et plurimi uno lapide figurarum tantae magnitudinis, ut sint in proprotione quasi emolia ad nature / Illustriss et Reverendiss Card Ampliss Alexandro Farensio Potuensi Ep Sanctaeq Re Vicancelli o Julius Robertus de Burgo S.ti Sepulchri DD MDLXXIX

Marking: On verso at center: The Metropolitan Museum of Art stamp
H. P. Kraus
Quaritch Catalogue 191; Huelsen 188b; Passavant VI.113.31
Peter Parshall "Antonio' Lafreri's 'Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae'" Print Quarterly. 1, London, 2006.

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