Templum Vaticanum Et Ipsius Origo Cum Aedificiis maxime conspicuis antiquitus, & recens ibidem constitutis; Editum Ab Equite Carolo Fontana Deputato celeberrimi eiusdem Templi Ministro, atque Architecto. Cum plerisque Regulis, novisque Architecturae Operationibus ab Ipsomet in lucem evulgatis. Cum Indice Rerum notabilium ad calcem locupletissimo. Opus In Septem Libros Distributum, Latinisque literis consignatum A Joane Jos: Bonnerve De S. Romain. Et dicatum Eminentissimis, ac Reverentissimis Dominis Cardinalibus Sacrae Congregationi R. Fabricae Divi Petri Deputatis.

Carlo Fontana

RA Collection: Book

Record number



Variant Title

Tempio Vaticano E Sua Origine
Tempio Vaticano e sua origine


Romae,: Ex Typographia Io: Francisci Buagni., MDCXCIV. Superiorum Permissu.

Physical Description

[32], 489, [29] p., [79] pl. included in pagination; 434 mm. (Quarto).

General Note

The number of initial unnumbered pages varies in different copies - variously described by cataloguers as 24, 30, 32 or 36. In some copies the Italian title page precedes the Latin one; and some copies have bound in a folded sheet carrying a portrait of Fontana - captioned 'Eques Carolus Fontana Ann. LIII' and signed 'R. V. Auden aert Gand. ad Vivum del et sculp.' - and a two-page tribute to him from Giuseppe Ghezzi, Secretary of the Academy of St Luke (of which Fontana was President from 1693 to 1699). The 79 plates are inserted throughout the text pages and are numbered continuously with them (each plate having a page number on its recto, its verso being blank and unnumbered). There are occasional inaccuracies in this sequence, as follows: between pl. 169 and pl. 173 there is neither a pl.171 nor pages 171-2; between pp.204 and 207 there are two plates both numbered 205; between pl.213 and pl.221 there are no plates 215, 217 and 219 nor pages 215-220; between pl.245 and page 249 there is no pl.247 nor pages 247-8; and between pages 342 and 343 there is also a plate numbered 343.


[T.p.(Italian), t.p. (Latin), two dedics.] - Imprimatur - [Poems in Latin; Italian sonnet to Fontana] - [Port.; tribute to Fontana] - Index Capitulorum / Indice De' Capitoli - Auctores In hoc opere citati / Autori Citati nell'Opera - [Text, with pl.] - Index Rerum Notabilium - Indice Delle Cose Notabili - Index Ichnographiarum huius Operis / Indice Delli Rami contenuti nell'Opera - Registro [binder's register].

Responsibility Note

As well as providing the Italian text (printed with Bonnerve's parallel Latin translation), Fontana also drew all the plates (all signed by him as draughtsman and by Alessandro Specchi as engraver). Most plates for Book III are copied from Domenico Fontana's Della trasportatione dell'obelisco (1590).


National Gallery (Washington), Mark J. Millard Architectural, IV (2000), no. 38, p.141-8; Royal Institute of British Architects, British Architectural Library ... Early printed books, 2 (1995), no. 1096; Johns Hopkins University, The Fowler Architectural Collection (1961), no. 122, p.105-6.

Summary Note

This impressive production was commissioned by the Sacred Congregation for the Fabric of St Peter's, to justify the expense of rebuilding the church. It is presented by Fontana in seven parts: (1) Cose piu notabile della potenza Romana (on the historic importance of St Peter's - here a plate is included showing overlapping plans of the old and new churches and Nero's Circus), (2) Antica basilica (i.e. the Constantinian basilica - with a plate based on Alfarano's plan and inventory), (3) Trasporto dell'obelisco (on Domenico Fontana's moving of the obelisk, with new illustrations of residential areas), (4) Portici, piazze (proposals for the enlargement of Piazza San Pietro and for a new piazza behind the apse), (5) Tempio Vaticano (affirming the safety of the dome, and describing the appearance of all parts of the church), (6) Spese (the costs of construction - St Peter's being declared costlier than the temple of Solomon) and (7) Pantheon & altri tempii (stressing the height of the church, compared particularly with the cathedral of Florence). This is followed by a comprehensive Index.

The plates show plans, elevations and sections of St Peter's and of the piazza.


Obtained by Sir William Chambers during his visit to Paris in 1774. It belongs to a group of books that J. D. Le Roy gave him in order to settle a debt. Chambers recouped the money owing to him by selling this (and at least seven other titles from the same source) to the Royal Academy for a total of £23 5s. The value he put on this particular book was £3 3s. (see RA Cash-book, 1769-1795, entry dated 21 May 1774).

Binding Note

18th-century sprinkled calf, with Maltese cross blind-stamped on upper and lower covers; spine gilt-tooled, with red morocco spine-label.


Basilica di San Pietro in Vaticano - Piazza San Pietro - Architecture, Italian - Churches - Italy - Rome - Vatican City - History - 16th century - 17th century - Renaissance - Baroque
Plans - Elevations - Sections - Italy - 17th century
Pictorial works - Italy - 17th century


Alessandro Specchi, 1668-1729, engraver
Carlo Fontana, 1638-1714, draughtsman
Giovanni Giuseppe Bonnerve, translator
Giovanni Francesco Buagni, fl. 1689-1707, printer, publisher
Robert van Audenaert, 1663-1743, source artist, draughtsman, engraver
Julien-David Le Roy, previous owner
Sir William Chambers RA, previous owner
Catholic Church - Congregatio Reverendae Fabricae Divi Petri, dedicatee