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Palazzi Di Genova

RA Collection: Book

Record number


Variant Title

Palazzi antichi di Genova


(Anversa:: , 1622.)

Physical Description

[6] p., 72 pl.; , 422 mm. (Folio).


[T.p., dedic.] - Al Benigno Lettore - Censura - [Plates].

Responsibility Note

The compiler's name appears in the dedication, address to the reader and imprimatur.

Only Plate 1 is signed - as engraved by Nicolaes Ryckemans.

The printer's name is not given, but the type-faces suggest that the book was printed at Officina Plantiniana, owned by Balthasar Moretus - for whom Rubens had designed title-pages and illustrations for other books.

The work is dedicated by Rubens to Don Carlo Grimaldo, a native of Genoa not further identified.


H.W. Rott, Rubens Palazzi di Genova Architectural drawings and engravings, 2 v. (2002); Una reggia repubblicana. Atlante dei palazzi di Genova 1576-1664, ed. E. Poleggi (1998); G.L. Gorse, 'A classical stage for the old nobility: the Strada Nuova and sixteenth-century Genoa', in A. Bull., LXXIX (1997), p. 301-27; K. Zeitler, Galeazzo Alessis Villen Giustiniani-Cambiaso und Grimaldi-Sauli (1993).

Summary Note

The title page supplies a title only; the name of the compiler, 'Pietro Paulo Rubens', and the date and place of publication are found in the Italian dedication and address to the reader and the Latin imprimatur.

As Rubens states in his address, these are designs collected (not drawn) by himself. His intention in publishing them as prints is to provide Belgium (or the Spanish Netherlands) with models of houses suitable for gentlemen rather than princes. They show plans, elevations and sections of twelve Genoese palazzi and villas, all built between 1548 and 1571 by Galeazzo Alessi and others. Most of these were not identified in the drawings, and Rubens distinguishes them merely by grouping his numbered plates under a common letter, as follows:

pl. 1-8: A [palazzo Carrega Cataldi];

9-13: B [villa Giustiniani Cambiaso];

14-19: C [villa Spinola di San Pietro];

20-28: D [villa Grimaldi 'Fortezza'];

29-34: E [villa Pallavicino Delle Peschiere];

35-42: F [palazzo Spinola];

43-48: G [palazzo Interiano Pallavicini];

49-52: H [villa Grimaldi Sauli];

53-60: I [palazzo Rostan Raggio];

61-66: K [palazzo Lercari Parodi];

67-72 [unlettered] [palazzi Doria Tursi and Cambiaso, and further details of villas Giustiniani Cambiaso, Spinola di San Pietro, Grimaldi 'Fortezza' and palazzo Spinola].

Most of the original drawings are now in the collection of the Royal Institute of British Architects, London. These engravings show them reversed. Shortly after 1622 Rubens brought out a second edition of the work, under the same title, expanded by the addition of a further 67 plates (but retaining the original dedication and imprimatur dated 1622). In 1652 and 1663 the Antwerp publisher, Jacob Meursius, issued the complete set again, giving each block of plates its own (misleading) title, Palazzi antichi di Genova and Palazzi moderni di Genova.

The book is not known to have influenced the design of any buildings in the Netherlands. There is evidence that in Britain the work was familiar to John Webb, Roger Pratt and Inigo Jones; but John Evelyn notes in his diary in 1644 that the book is 'rare'.


The work was reprinted, edited by H. Schomann (Dortmund: Harenberg, 1982). A facsimile of the 1652 edition was published in Genoa in 1955.


Acquired between 1769 and 1802. Recorded in RAA Library, Catalogue, 1802.

Binding Note

20th-century calf, gilt-stamped borders on upper and lower covers, brown morocco spine-label lettered 'Palazzi Di Genova'.

Name as Subject


Architecture, Italian - Palaces, Italian - Houses - Country-houses - Villas - Italy - Liguria - Genoa - History - 16th century - Renaissance
Plans - Elevations - Sections - Pattern books - Belgium - 17th century
Pictorial works - Belgium - 17th century