Nota de' regali avuti Da Sua Eccellenza la Signora Donna Costanza Falconieri, E Sua Eccellenza il Signor D. Luigi Braschi Onesti, In occasione de' loro già seguiti Sponsali
by WEDDING GIFTS -
Rome: Cracas, 1781. 4to (196 x 142 mm.). XIV pp. Double column, typographic ornamental column dividers, two woodcut tailpieces. Originally folded, traces of vertical crease. Paper softened and slightly browned, first leaf rehinged, first 2 leaves and last leaf each with a small internal repair affecting a few letters, restored in old ink facsimile, lower blank fore-corners of 5 leaves restored. Later boards, sides covered with contemporary copper-gilt paper (partly oxidized).***A rare ephemeral list of the wedding gifts received by a wealthy Roman couple with close Papal ties.Luigi Braschi Onesti (1745-1816) was a nephew of Pope Pius VI (Gianangelo Braschi). Costanza Falconieri (1764-ca. 1820) was one of six children of Countess Giulia Millini, allegedly the Pope's mistress in her youth. Falconieri certainly enjoyed special favor: her dowry having been settled at a much higher sum than was usual for her family, thanks to a Papal dispensation, at age 16 she was married to Braschi Onesti in the Sistine Chapel, by the Pope himself. THE social event of the season, if not of the decade, the wedding celebrations were practically a state event: "nobles, princes, and Cardinals competed to offer propitiatory gifts to the newlyweds" (DBI). Their gifts, recorded in the present pamphlet, were staggering in their opulence and sheer number. Possibly intended for distribution to guests, this extraordinary inventory of wedding gifts contains 91 entries of gifts to the bride and 59 to the groom, listed by donor (identified by name and rank), but many of the entries include multiple gifts, and the total approaches 300. For the lady there was above all jewelry, dripping with diamonds, opals, emeralds and rubies; next in quantity came dresses, capes, and other garments, in satins and silks, embroidered with gold and lace, in pink (apparently a favored color) or white, or ash-grey, with floral designs, with lace trim, with matching muffs...; gold and silver boxes and painted baskets, pocket watches, a silver and ivory writing set preserved within an ornate wooden case from Portugal; travelling cases embellished in lapis lazuli and gold; silver dinner and coffee services; glassware including a mirror; fine linens; a gold and enamel clock; a jewel-encrusted fan; a reliquary, an "acquasanteria" (holy water font, presumably for a private chapel) of beaten silver with a bas-relief design of putti, the Virgin, St. Joseph, and the Holy Dove; and even a book, of theater architecture, presented by the author, Cosimo Morelli (apparently his Pianta e Spaccato del Nuovo Teatro d'Imola, Rome 1780), and splendidly bound with the couple's arms. Braschi Onesti, made Duke upon his marriage, was showered equally with jewels, rings, snuffboxes, and porcelain; but also with furniture including a Meissen writing desk, noble stallions for his stable, an ornately decorated gold-trimmed carriage for two, a pair of magnificent silver containers, one filled with chocolate and one with coffee, silver wine services, Parisian chandeliers, paintings and tapestries to decorate his new home, including a large painting of the meeting of Jephthah with his daughter, by Giovanni Francesco Romanelli, prayer books printed by Salvioni, finely bound "a la Francese," and precious objects for a cabinet: ancient cameos, oriental pearls, and enamelled and bejewelled boxes containing, conveniently, wads of cash. After the wedding the couple's lavishly appointed household became nothing less than a court, the center of high society and cultural events, where visiting dignitaries, newly anointed Cardinals, and all those interested in currying favor with the Pope were expected to pay their respects. Benefiting further from the latter's unabashed nepotism, Braschi Onesti became one of Italy's biggest landowners. The palace his uncle built for him on the Piazza Navona, which housed his splendid collection of art and antiquities, is now the Museo di Roma. Costanza Falcionieri gained celebrity, or notoriety, through her extramarital affairs (in this hardly exceeding her husband, who was of course excused for the same behavior), notably with the poet Vincenzo Monti, for a time Braschi Onesti's secretary.I locate four other copies, of which one still in the Palazzo Braschi, two in Germany and one at the British Library.
(Inventory #: 2798)
Continental printed books and manuscripts; Renaissance and Baroque literature; Incunables; Illustrated books
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