Augsburg: Negitium Academiae Caes. Francisceae, 1760. First edition. Single sheet matted in rag board. Fine copperplate engraving with bold period hand-coloring. Light soiling. Folio; (plate mark 17 x 11.5 inches; sheet size 17.75 x 12.5 inches.) Matted in Ivory rag mat with gilt French line decoration sized to 23.25 x 18 inches.
Sight: The Triumph of Belisaire. A fine perspective of the stage setting of ornately garbed royal courtiers and soldiers surrounded by onlookers in two-tiered balcony. Putti donning plumed soldiers' helmets, Gods and Goddess statues abound. Caption in four languages; German, Latin, French & Italian engraved below the scene.
Centuries ago stage designers were engaged by royal patrons to leave documentary evidence illustrating their activities. This dramatic eighteenth century engraving; an allegorical optical view by Setlezsky of Burnacini's lavish setting for the opera Il Pomo d'Oro (The Golden Apple) by Francesco Sbarra and Antonio Cesti Vienna in 1668 is a fine example of one such commission. 18th century engraver of Polish origin Balthazar Sigismond Setlezky (Augsburg 1695- 1774) studied under Johann Andreas Pfeffel the Elder and engraved in the style of Baroque Painters such as Jean-Antoine Watteau (1684-1721) and the Roos Painters. Italian architect and designer Ludovico Ottavio Burnacini (1636-1707) in the service of the Hapsburg Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I created this magnificently revolutionary staging of Sbarra and Cesti's opera Il Pomo d'Oro; the story of the Judgment of Paris in Vienna in 1668 to celebrate 17th birthday of Holy Roman Empress Margaret Theresa of Spain.
Il Pomo d'Oro embodied both consolidated experience and seeds of future innovation...and through the twenty three scene changes develop the metaphorical concept of theater = universe, conjuring up a cosmic voyage from the heavens to earth to underworld, followed by a return to the heavens, where natural and supernatural are joined through the 'Triumph of the House of Austria' in the "Halls of Fate." Spectacular effects reflected the dynastic requirements and hierarchical structures of the Hapsburg Court. (Benezit. Bianconi & Pestelli, Editors. Opera on Stage. Chicago; University of Chicago Press, 2002.). Fine. Item #7341