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Saturday 7 August 2021

Domenico Montagù’s engraving, “Du Forum de Nerva”, 1761, after Jean Barbault

Domenico Montagù (fl.1750–1776)

Note: my attribution of this plate to Domenico Montagù is based on Montagù having engraved other ruins in the Forum de Nerva from the same series: e.g. “Partie du Forum ou Place de Nerva” (see

“Du Forum de Nerva”, 1761, after the intermediary design by Jean Barbault (1718–1762), published in Rome by Bouchard & Gravier (fl.1750-1789) as Plate 12 (of 128 plates) in Jean Barbault’s “Les Plus Beaux Monuments de Rome Ancienne ou Recueil des plus beaux Morceaux de l'Antiquité Romaine qui existent encore” (The Most Beautiful Monuments of Ancient Rome or Collection of the Most Beautiful Pieces from Roman Antiquity that still exist), printed by Komarek (fl.c.1761)—viz. Joan Jacob Komarek (see BM inv. no 1873,1213.906); Heritiers de Komarek (see MET inv. no. 52.519.87[1–128]).

The Curator of the British Museum offers the following insights about the publication in which this print features:

“The volume comprises some 128 plates which depict a variety of scenes including vedute of ancient ruins and monuments in Rome and studies of antique sculptural and architectural fragments and objects. The plates are etched and in a range of scales, often with two plates to a sheet. 73 of the larger plates are numbered, 53 with a relevant page reference. The plates are accompanied by Barbault’s text (in French), which often elucidates further detail on the subject of the illustrations on the corresponding page. […]

Over 100 of the signatures on the plate assert the involvement of Barbault in their production, and Barbault was certainly the designer and etcher of a large proportion of the plates. At least 48 of the views of Rome were the result of the ongoing collaboration between Barbault and the vedutist Domenico Montagù, who also contributed etchings to Barbault’s ‘Les Plus Beaux Edifices de Rome Moderne’ (Rome, 1763), and who produced at least 37 etchings for the ‘Nuova Raccolta delle piu' belle vedute di Roma dissegnate, e intagliate da celebri autori’ (Rome, 1761) (see 1892,0804.6.0-50 for a volume of the 1771 edition). While a large proportion of Montagù’s etchings were produced after drawings by Barbault, their fundamental quality demonstrates a reliance on the vedute of Giovanni Battista Piranesi, with whom both Barbault and Montagù shared the publisher Bouchard et Gravier” (

The Metropolitan Museum of Art also offers a marvellously detailed description of this publication:

Stipple engraving printed in warm black ink on buff coloured laid paper.

Size: (sheet) 54.1 x 39.3; (plate) 47.5 x 32.5 cm; (image borderline) 44.6 x 29.7 cm.

Numbered in plate above the image borderline: (right) “Pl. 12.”

Numbered in plate within the image borderline: (above the antique fragments clockwise) “5”, “6” and “7”.

Lettered in plate below the image borderline: (left) “5. Profil du Modillon./ 6. Modillon ou de face.”; (centre) “Du Forum de Nerva”; (right) “7 Soffite ou Plafond du Larmier.”

Fowler 29.37; IFF (1933) II.43.2; Millard IV.13; Cicognara I.170.3592; Le Blanc I.144.4–58; Le Blanc III.42.2; Volle and Rosenberg 60.55 (Reference data from the MET regarding the publication)

Condition: a well-printed, strong and near faultless impression with generous margins. There is a significant worm hole at lower left outside the image borderline, otherwise the sheet is in near pristine condition with no tears, folds, abrasions, stains or foxing.

I am selling this superb stipple engraving of three details of an architectural fragment from the Forum of Nerva in Rome, for the total cost of AU$232 (currently US$170.71/EUR145.07/GBP123.05 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world, but not (of course) any import duties/taxes imposed by some countries.

If you are interested in purchasing this large engraving executed with almost unbelievable sensitivity and skill, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

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