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Illustrations, Historical And Critical, Of The Life Of Lorenzo De' Medici, called The Magnificent; With An Appendix Of Original And Other Documents. By William Roscoe.

William Roscoe

RA Collection: Book

Record number




London:: Printed For T. Cadell, Strand; And W. Blackwood, Edinburgh., 1822.

Physical Description

[12], 223, [1], 168 p., frontis. (port.), 3 pl.: [2] illus.; 287 mm. (Quarto.)

General Note

The three plates are unnumbered, but each carries the number of the page next to which it is to be bound in: p. 90, 131, 200. The in-text illustrations are on pp. 96, 120.


[Half-title, frontis., t.p.] - Canzone Di T.J. Mathias A Guglielmo Roscoe - Prefatory Observations - [Text] - Appendix; [colophon].

Responsibility Note

The frontispiece portrait is captioned as 'Lorenzo De Medici. From a Bust by Michaelagnolo, presented by the Marquis Capponi of Florence to the Author', and signed as 'Drawn & Engraved by Edw. Smith.' The first plate (p.90) is captioned as 'Cosmo de' Medici ... from a Picture by Francesco Peselli'. The other two plates, and the two in-text illustrations, are unsigned.

The printer is named on the title-page verso and in the colophon: 'J. M'Creery, Tooks Court, Chancery-Lane, London.'


D.A. MacNaughton, Roscoe of Liverpool: his life, writings and treasure (1996); G. Murphy, William Roscoe, his early ideals and influence (1981); C.P. Darcy, The encouragement of the fine arts in Lancashire 1760-1860 (1976); M. Compton, 'William Roscoe and early collectors of Italian primitives', in Liverpool bulletin, 9 (1960-1), p.26-51; G. Chandler, William Roscoe of Liverpool (1953).

On the printer and publishers see J. R. Barker, 'John McCreery, a radical printer, 1768-1832', in The Library, 5th ser. 16 (1961), p.81-103; J. R. Barker, 'Cadell and Davies and the Liverpool booksellers', in The Library, 5th ser. 14 (1959), p.274-80.

Summary Note

The work was first published, in two volumes, in 1796 (also printed by McCreery), after ten years of research. It won immediate acclaim in Britain - 'Roscoe', declared Horace Walpole, 'is by far the best of our historians, both for beauty, style, and deep reflections' - and established Roscoe's international reputation. It is the study of a ruler who was also a scholar, and who promoted the arts both for their own sake and as a means of extending his political influence; and Roscoe probably took Lorenzo as a model for his own encouragement of the arts in Liverpool.

Most plates are captioned, and show: [frontis.] 'Lorenzo De Medici ...'; [1](p.90) 'Cosmo de' Medici with his Son Piero and his grandsons Lorenzo and Giuliano ...'; [2](p.131) 'The Fable of Ambra, as carved on an Amber Fiaschetto ... formerly belonging to Lorenzo de Medici'; [3] (p.200) tomb design by Michelangelo. The two in-text illustrations (pp. 96, 120) show medallions representing Lorenzo de' Medici.

The work is finely printed by McCreery - possibly using types cast by William Martin, who designed type for Boydell's Shakespeare printed by William Bulmer.


The half-title is inscribed in ink, 'Sir Thomas Lawrence P.R.A. with the Author's sincere respects', and in pencil, 'Arabella Fletcher'. The title page is inscribed in ink, 'Archer [?] December 1868'. Presented by Anthony Blunt, May 1944.

Binding Note

20th-century grey-brown cloth, three-quarters covered with white paper; black morocco spine-label lettered 'Life Of Lorenzo De' Medici - Roscoe'.

Name as Subject


Rulers - Arts - Patronage - Italy - Tuscany - Florence - History - 15th century
Art history - Biography - Great Britain - 18th century - 19th century


Thomas Cadell the younger, publisher
William Blackwood, publisher
John McCreery, printer
William Roscoe, previous owner
Sir Thomas Lawrence PRA, previous owner
Thomas James Mathias
Michelangelo Buonarroti, source artist
Edward Smith, draughtsman, engraver
Francesco Pesellino, source artist
Anthony Blunt, Donor