Attributed to Cosimo Rossi-Melocchi (Pistoia 1758 – 1820 Florence)
View of the Uffizi, Florence
Pen and black ink, brown ink wash, black ink framing lines, traces of black chalk on verso intended for transfer, 234 x 343 mm (9.2 x 13.5 inch)
Private collection, The Netherlands
This interesting sheet appears to be the preparatory drawing for the aquatint etching by Cosimo Rossi-Melocchi, included in Viaggio Pittorico della Toscana, published in Florence between 1801 and 1803 in three volumes (see fig.).1 One of the most famous pictorial representations of Tuscany, the project was masterminded by Francesco Fontani and printed by Giuseppe Tofani. The attractive set comprised maps and some two hundred views of the major sights of Tuscany, including Florence, Pisa, Livorno and Siena. Among the draftsmen who provided drawings for the engraved views were Vincenzo Soinazzi, Giuseppe Pera, Giuseppe Polito, Carlo Cecchi and Matteo Carboni. The set was especially sought after by Grand Tourists from England and elsewhere.
Born in 1758 in Pistoia, some twenty miles north-west of Florence, Cosimo Rossi-Melocchi trained as an architect under the tutelage of Gaspare Paoletti at the Accademia di Belle Arte in Florence, and finished his studies in Rome. He returned to Florence to design a temporary architectural structure in honour of the marriage of the Archduchess Maria Theresa of Austria to Anton of Saxony in 1787. He did much work in his native Pistoia, restoring the Teatro Manzoni and designing the Pantheon degli Uomini Illustri around 1812. In 1805 he published a work on the determination of shadows of geometric shapes.
Among his few drawings that have survived is a large view of the Piazza della Signoria in Florence (see fig.).2 Although the scarcity of secure drawings complicates establishing a good idea of Rossi-Melocchi’s draftsmanship, the handling of our sheet is closely comparable to that observed in the view of the Piazza della Signoria, and the characterisation of the figures and application of shadows is distinctive, while the highly controlled delineation of the architecture betrays the hand of an architect. When Rossi-Melocchi engraved the drawing, he followed its composition very faithfully but varied the shadowing, introducing bolder effects, particularly the strong diagonal dark shading along the lower edge, serving as a repoussoir, and casting the central pilasters in strong sunlight.
Today one of the world’s most celebrated museums, the Uffizi were designed from 1560 by Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574) for Cosimo I de’Medici to house the offices (uffizi) of the Florentine magistrates.
1. Inscribed ‘Veduta dell’Interno degl’ Uffizi di Firenze’, and signed ‘Cosimo Rossi del et scul’.
2. Pen and black ink, watercolour heightened with bodycolour, 478 x 787 mm; Christie’s, London, 8 July 2009, lot 122 (attributed to Cosimo Rossi-Melocchi.Request more information »