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Castelli, E Ponti Di Maestro Niccola Zabaglia Con Alcune ingegnose Pratiche, e Con La Descrizione Del Trasporto Dell'Obelisco Vaticano, e Di Altri Del Cavaliere Domenico Fontana

RA Collection: Book

Record number


Variant Title

Contignationes, Ac Pontes Nicolai Zabaglia


In Roma,: MDCCXLIII, Nella Stamperia Di Niccolò, e Marco Pagliarini Mercanti Librari, E Stampatori A Pasquino. Con Licenza De' Superiori.

Physical Description

[iv], 21 f. (fold.), frontis. (port.), 54 pl. (4 dble. or fold.); 467 mm. (Folio.)

General Note

Plates XXXIV-XXXVI and L are double or folded. In some copies the Latin title-page is bound in before the Italian one.


[Frontis. (port.)] - [T.p. in Italian] - Praefatio - Imprimatur - [T.p. in Latin, 'Contignationes ...'] - Prefazione - [Plates] - [Text, 'Tabularum Explanatio' / 'Spegazione Delle Tavole' - in Latin and Italian in parallel, the Latin left and the Italian right]. - In some copies the Latin t.p. is bound in before the Italian one, and the text and plates are interspersed.

Responsibility Note

According to Comolli, this book was sponsored by Pope Benedict XIV, and its text was written by Lelio Cosatti, with the help of G. G. Bottari and Zabaglia himself (who may have been illiterate). The Latin text is ascribed by Comolli to Cosatti but by Halwas to N. Salulini.

Fourteen plates are unsigned (they have been attributed to B. Gambucciari as draughtsman); 27 are signed as drawn by Francesco Rostagni and engraved by him or others (M. Schedel, N. Guttierez, G. Vasi, F. Duflos, F. Mazzoni, A. Guiducci, M. Sorello, P. Pilaja); thirteen are signed by C. Fontana as draughtsman and A. Specchi as engraver (these are reprinted from C. Fontana's Templum Vaticanum, 1694, where they are copied from D. Fontana's Della trasportatione dell'obelisco, 1590). The frontispiece portrait of Zabaglia is signed as drawn by Pier Leone Ghezzi and engraved by Girolamo Rossi.

The Latin title page has the imprint, 'Romæ Ex Typographia Palladis ... Excudebant Nicolaus, Et Marcus Palearini ...'.


Royal Institute of British Architects, British Architectural Library ... Early printed, 4 (2001), no.3733; National Gallery (Washington), Mark J. Millard Architectural, IV (2000), no. 166, p.509-11; P. Riccardi, Biblioteca matematica (1952), 2:642; Monaco, V. R. R. ed., L'Immagine del antico (1983), cat. 26; Guide di Roma, ed. Schudt (1930/R 1971), 1126.

On Zabaglia see U.M. Milizia, Notizia sulla vita e sulle opere di Nicola Zabaglia (1999) and A.M. Corbo, Nicola Zabaglia un geniale analfabeta (1999); and on the wider context of his work, J. Fitchen, Building construction before mechanization (1986).

Summary Note

The whole text is in Latin and Italian. The Latin title-page reads: 'Contignationes, Ac Pontes Nicolai Zabaglia Una Cum Quibusdam Ingeniosis Praxibus, Ac Descriptione Translationis Obelisci Vaticani, Aliorumque Per Equitem Dominicum Fontana Susceptae. Romæ Ex Typographia Palladis MDCCXLIII. Excudebant Nicolaus, Et Marcus Palearini ...'.

Nicola Zabaglia, curator of the Reverenda Fabbrica di San Pietro, was celebrated for his resourceful scaffoldings - including those used for inspecting the cupola of St Peter's in 1743-1744, and those used for re-erecting the obelisk of Augustus. The importance of scaffolding in Renaissance and Baroque building, especially for vaulted and domed spans, had produced a considerable literature, of which P. de l'Orme's Nouvelles inventions (1561) and M. Joussée's Theatre de l'art de charpentier (1627) were noteworthy examples. In the English-speaking world Francis Price's British carpenter or a treatise on carpentry addressed the subject, and was often reprinted.


Acquired by 1802. Recorded in Catalogue Of The Library In The Royal Academy, London (1802).

Binding Note

Contemporary vellum; red morocco spine-label, lettered, 'Zabaglia Castelli E Ponti'.

Name as Subject

Nicola Zabaglia, 1664-1750
Domenico Fontana, 1543-1607


Engineering - Scaffolding - Techniques - Scaffolds - Temporary structures (Building) - Italy - Rome - Vatican City - Basilica di San Pietro in Vaticano - History - 17th century - 18th century
Manuals - Italy - 18th century
Pictorial works - Italy - 18th century


Nicola Zabaglia
Niccolo Pagliarini, fl. 1743-1762, printer, bookseller, publisher
Marco Pagliarini, fl. 1743-1777, printer, bookseller, publisher
Lelio Cosatti
Carlo Fontana, 1638-1714, draughtsman
Alessandro Specchi, 1668-1729, engraver
Pier Leone Ghezzi, 1674-1755, draughtsman
Girolamo Rossi, 1682 - after 1762, engraver
Francesco Rostagni, fl. 1740s?, draughtsman, engraver
Giuseppe Vasi, 1710-1782, engraver
Martin Schedel, 1677-1748, engraver
Philothee-Francois Duflos, 1708?-1746, engraver
Paolo Pillaja, fl. 1734-1743?, engraver
Angelo Guiducci, fl. 1742?-1779, engraver
Niccola Gutierrez, fl. 1729?-1743?, engraver
Francesco Mazzoni, fl. 1738-1759, engraver
Miguel de Sorello, ca. 1700-ca. 1765, engraver
Benedict XIV Pope
Giovanni Gaetano Bottari, 1689-1775
Nicolo Salulini, translator
Baldassare Gambucciari, fl. 1740s?, draughtsman
Niccolo e Marco Pagliarini (Rome), printer, bookseller, publisher
Typographia Palladis (Rome), printer