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FEA, Pietro. Ragione ed intagli a contorno del dipinto eseguito ad ornamento dello scalone nel Palazzo della Città di Torino. Torino, Dalla Tipografia di Giuseppe Favale, 1824.

Folio, [45.4 x 29.2 cm], 16 pp., 4 full-page single-sided etchings. Bound in olive green paper. Wrappers clean. Very minor occasional spotting not affecting text or images.


Rare first and only edition of a presentation work by the painter and essayist Pietro Fea da Casale (1771-1842) commemorating his designs for the ‘Scalone d’Onore’ in Turin’s Palazzo di Città (now know as the Palazzo Civico). The volume, which includes 4 full-page reproductive etchings executed by the artist himself and an essay in which he explains his aesthetic and iconographic program, provides a fascinating glimpse into the intellectual and formal background of an important civic commission in early nineteenth-century Piedmont. Addressed to the city’s mayors and senators, the work is offered as a reciprocal gift for having been allowed (and paid) to decorate this municipal seat.

Fea first discusses how the rich appointments (colored marbles, paintings in chiaroscuro) already in place in the Scalone led him to favor neutral, fictive basso-relievo friezes executed in a nearly achromatic palette. The paintings, very much in the neoclassical mode, are allegorical treatments of Turin: The Four Seasons Offer the Rivers Po and Dora the Fruits of the Piedmont Soil and The City of Turin Receives Homage from Science, Literature, Art, Commerce, Navigation, Agriculture, Industry, and Military are the principal subjects with smaller paintings representing winged victories flying above the modern city and reclining among Roman trophea. Fea’s four outline etchings reproduce these compositions along with an architectural elevation of the Scalone showing the placement of the pictures. In his essay Fea treats at length his formal and iconographical rationale, citing numerous Greek artists (Poygnotus, Praxitiles, Apelles, etc.), the Arch of Titus, the Mars Gate at Reims, the art theory of Winckelmann, Piranesi’s etching of the Camera Sepolcrale di Larrunzino, Agrippina’s tomb at Pozzuolo, the modern triumphal gateway at Chieri, and use of friezes in the architecture of Quarenghi and Juvarra.

OCLC locates no U.S. copies of this work and only two outside of Italy, both in France.

* Biblioteca storica italiana, (1871) p. 340, no. 6055; Memorie della Reale Accademia delle Scienze di Torino, vol. 28, p. xxx; DBI, vol. XLV, pp. 541-3.

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