An Essay On The Utility Of Collecting The Best Works Of The Ancient Engravers Of The Italian School; Accompanied By A Critical Catalogue, With Interesting Anecdotes Of The Engravers, Of A Chronological Series Of rare And Valuable Prints, From The Earliest Practice Of The Art In Italy To The Year 1549, Now Deposited In The British Museum and Royal Academy, In London, By George Cumberland.

George Cumberland

RA Collection: Book

Record number



Variant Title

Anecdotes of Julio Bonasoni
Some Anecdotes Of The Life Of Julio Bonasoni
Catalogue raisonnée of all the prints ... of the British Museum, intitled, Roman School; Marc Antonio Raimondi


London.: Printed By W. Nicol, Cleveland-Row; And Sold By Payne And Foss, Pall-Mall; J. And A. Arch, Cornhill; And Colnaghi, Son And Co. Pall-Mall East., 1827.

Physical Description

vii, [i], 536, [4] p., frontis. (port.), 4 [i.e. 2] pl. (on 2 fold. sheets); 255 mm. (Quarto.)


[Frontis., t.p., dedic.] - Preface; Notice - Contents - Introductory Essay - A Critical Catalogue, &c. - Anecdotes Of Julio Bonasoni, A Bolognese Artist, First Published In 1793, Now With Notes - Catalogue of the Works of Julio Bonasoni ... - Appendix - [Plates] - Errata - Works by the same Author.

Responsibility Note

The frontispiece portrait of G. Cumberland is signed as engraved by T. Woolnoth from a miniature by Branwhite. The folding plates are unsigned.

The work is dedicated by the author to Baron Farnborough [formerly Charles Long], of Bromley Hill, Kent.


An account of the appreciation of Italian art in Britain was Italian art and Britain [Royal Academy exhibition catalogue] (1960).

On Cumberland see G.E. Bentley, A bibliography of George Cumberland 1754-1848 (1975); G. Keynes, 'Some uncollected authors, 44: George Cumberland 1754-1848', in Book collector, 19 (1970) p.31-65.

The Royal Academy's sale of the Cumberland collection is described briefly in J. Fenton, School Of Genius A History of the Royal Academy (2006), p.23, 291-2.

Studies of the history of engraving include D. Landau and P. Parshall, The Renaissance print 1470-1550 (1994); A. Griffiths and R. Williams, The Department of Prints and Drawings in the British Museum (1987); T. Riggs, The Print Council index to oeuvre-catalogues of prints (1983); M. Melot, Prints: history of an art (1981).

Summary Note

The 'Anecdotes Of Julio Bonasoni' and the catalogue of his works were originally published in 1793 under the title, 'Some Anecdotes Of The Life Of Julio Bonasoni ...'.

The Appendix consists of 'A Catalogue Raisonnée of all the prints ... of the British Museum, intitled, Roman School; Marc Antonio Raimondi ...' and Memoranda of other rare prints at the Museum.

The two sheets of plates show engravers' monograms and marks.

The collection of early Italian engravings described in this catalogue as in the possession of the Royal Academy had been bought from George Cumberland in 1820 for £600. Arranged in a series of 9 folio albums it represented the Academy's most important holding of old master prints. In 1967 however the RA Council decided to put it on the market and employ the proceeds to establish a staff pension fund. The sale was handled (somewhat ironically) by P. & D. Colnaghi's Print Department, who sold the highest value items on commission and dispersed the remainder as part of their general stock. Among the most valuable prints was a complete set of E-series 'tarocchi' cards, which Cumberland had felt 'ought to have gone direct to the British Museum', but been reassured by the thought that its being 'at the Academy will secure it to the country'.


22 December 1832: 'Resolved that the Catalogue publish'd of M.r Cumberland's Collection of Prints be immediately purchased for the Library.' (RA Council Minutes, VIII, p. 11).

30 January 1839: 'Produced a copy of Cumberland's Critical Catalogue of Prints, price £2 (formerly ordered by the Council) - which was directed to be paid.' (RA Council Minutes, IX, 6).

Binding Note

20th-century beige cloth-covered boards; black morocco spine-label lettered 'Cumberlands Catalogue Of Italian Prints', spine lettered 'R.A.'

Name as Subject


Engravings - Engravers - Italy - History - 15th century - 16th century - Renaissance
Collections - Great Britain - London - 19th century
Catalogues - 19th century