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Observations On Italy. By The Late John Bell, Fellow Of The Royal College Of Surgeons, Edinburgh, &c.

John Bell

RA Collection: Book

Record number




William Blackwood,, Edinburgh:: And T. Cadell, Strand,, London.: M.D.CCC.XXV.

Physical Description

xii, 356 p., [6] pl. (incl. frontis.); 232 mm. (Quarto.)

General Note

The plates carry no plate-numbers, but carry the numbers of the pages next to which they are to be bound (viz. p.160 [but bound in as frontispiece], 174, 186, 212, 217, 225).


[Frontis., t.p., dedic.] - Introduction - [Text, with pl.]; [colophon] - [Errata slip].

Responsibility Note

The plates are signed as drawn by Gherardi (apart from that facing p.217, which is signed as drawn by J. Bell), and as engraved by W.H. Lizars.

The printer is named in the colophon: 'Edinburgh: Printed by James Ballantyne & Co.'

The work is dedicated by Rosina A. Bell to the King (that is George IV).


H. Avery, 'John Bell's last tour', in Medical history, 8 (1964), p.69-77; E.W. Wallis, 'John Bell, 1763-1820', in Medical history, 8 (1964), p.63-9.

Summary Note

John Bell was one of the best-known anatomists of his day, and a skilled draughtsman. Recuperating from a fall from his horse, he began his visit to Italy with his wife in 1817, settled in Rome, and died there in 1820. Throughout his stay he made lively notes of the works of art which he saw, and regularly discussed anatomy with the sculptor Canova.

The chapters of the text describe: 1. Lyons; 2. Turin; 3. Milan, Pavia; 4. Placentia, Parma, Modena, Bologna; 5-8. Florence; 9. Rome.

The plates are captioned and show views of Florence: (p.160) 'View Of Ponte Di Santa Trinita'; (p.174) 'View Of The Podesta taken From The Door'; (p.186) 'View Of The Campanello Del Duomo'; (p.212) 'Perspective View Of The Palazzo Pitti'; (p.217) 'Loggia Dei Lanzi'; (p.225) 'Perspective View Of Piazza San Lorenze'.


The verso of the front free-endpaper is inscribed in pencil, 'S. A. H. 1877' - i.e. S. A. Hart, librarian of the Royal Academy, 1864-81. Purchased for RA Library in 1877 (see RA Annual Report for 1877, p. 47).

Binding Note

19th-century white vellum, upper and lower covers having gilt borders; gilt-decorated spine, brown morocco spine-label lettered 'Bell's Italy', spine lettered 'R.A.'

Name as Subject


Art - Sculpture - Italy - Tuscany - Florence - Lazio - Rome - History
British - Italy - Tuscany - Florence - Lazio - Rome - Description and travel - 19th century
Memoirs - Biography - Art criticism - Views - Trave literature - Travel sketches - Great Britain - 19th century
Pictorial works - Great Britain - 19th century