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The life of Frá Bartolommeo della Porta, a Tuscan painter, with his works, engraved from the original pictures, dedicated, to the Honorable Horace Walpole, an Intelligent Promotor of the fine Arts, by his most Obedient and most humble Servant Thomas Patch. Vita di Frá Bartolommeo della Porta, pittor Toscano, colle sue opere, intagliate in rame, dagli originali, Dedicata al Sigre Orazio Walpolo Nobile Inglese, Fauttore Intelligente, delle belle Arti, dal suo umil Servo Tommaso Patch

RA Collection: Book

Record number


Variant Title

Vita di Frá Bartolommeo della Porta, pittor Toscano, colle sue opere, intagliate


(In Firenze): [s.n.],, 1772. (-1773)

Physical Description

[2] p., XXIV, XXII, [1(fold.)] pl.; 470 mm. (Folio).

General Note

Plate XIX of the first series is misnumbered XXI. Sometimes the first set is found alone.

Responsibility Note

In the first series all plates are signed, 'Fra Bartolommeo pinxit. Patch 1771' (or similar). In the second series all are signed 'Fra Bartolommeo. Patch f.' (or variants), except plate II (unsigned) and the unnumbered, double plate (which is captioned as painted by Fra Bartolommeo and signed as made by Tommaso Patch, and dated 1773).


J. Ingamells, A Dictionary Of British And Irish Travellers In Italy 1701-1800 (1997), p.745-6; E.A. Maser, in Festschrift Klaus Lankheit (1973), p.192-8; F.J.B. Watson, 'Thomas Patch: some light on his work', in Apollo 85 (1967), p. 38-53; F.J.B. Watson, 'Thomas Patch (1725-1782): notes on his life together with a catalogue of his known works', in Walpole Society, 28 (1939-40), p.16-50; E.A. Maser, The contributions of Thomas Patch and Ignatius Hugford to Italian art history [dissertation, Univy. of Cicago] (1948); G.K.S. Edwards, 'Thomas Patch', in Apollo, 26 (1937), p.217-221. On the development of interest in early Renaissance painters see G. Previtali, La fortuna dei primitivi dal Vasari ai neoclassici (1964); T. Borenius, 'The rediscovery of the Primitives', in Quarterly Review, 239 (1923 April), p.258-70; C. von Klenze, 'The growth of interest in early Italian masters from Tischbein to Ruskin', in Modern philology, 4 (1906), p.207-74.

Summary Note

Our title for this publication is supplied by the opening words of Patch's dedication, which are engraved at the head of page [1], above the letter-press text, 'Thomas Patch To The Reader'. (As a title it is misleading, since the whole text consists of only two pages, in which the biography of Fra Bartolommeo is summarised in one sentence.) In the address to the reader (given in both English and Italian) Patch states his intention to publish the works of Fra Bartolommeo 'in five numbers each number to contain 24. prints', and follows this with a description of the twenty-four plates of the first 'number'. It appears that we have here two of the proposed numbers - the first having twenty-four numbered plates, all dated 1771 and accompanied by two unnumbered pages of text (dated 1772); the other having twenty-two numbered plates (undated) and one unnumbered folding plate (dated 1773), without accompanying text. The place of publication is given in the colophon on page [2] of the first 'number', 'In Firenze L'Anno MDCCLXXII'. The plates of the first series show: the Presentation (pl. I-VII); S. Vincent (VIII, IX); Savonarola (X); Madonna and Child (XI, XII), Emmaus (XIII-XVI); Madonna and Child (XVII, XVIII); Madonna and Child (XIX, misnumbered XXI); Pietà (XX); Madonna and Child (XXI); S. Mary Magdalen (XXII); S. Jerome (XXIII), S. Catherine (XXIV). Those of the second group show one painting only, Fra Bartolommeo's 'Pala della Signoria' - an almost monochrome depiction of the Virgin and the Christ-Child, with saints and angels - the last plate showing the whole painting (unnumbered plate), the rest showing details of heads (I-XXII). For some plates the engraver has used aquatint. Thomas Patch left Rome for Florence in 1755. There he painted vedute (e.g. the Piazza della Signoria now in Plymouth City Museum) and caricatures of painters and patrons. In the 1770s his engravings after Fra Bartolommeo, Masaccio (1770), Giotto (1772) and Ghiberti (1774) demonstrated his strong interest in the art of the early Renaissance. A portrait of Patch is included in Zoffany's Tribuna (now at Windsor Castle), where he is shown discussing Titian's Venus of Urbino with his friend Horace Mann.


Recorded in RAA Library, Catalogue, 1802.

Binding Note

18th-century mottled calf, the upper cover gilt-stamped with royal arms of Great Britain and 'R.A.'; rebacked in 1988 by A. Wessely, spine lettered 'Works of Bartolommeo Della Porta'.

Name as Subject


Painters, Italian - Paintings, Italian - Italy - Florence - History - 16th century - Renaissance
God - Saints - Angels - Christian art and symbolism - Iconography
Pictorial works - Italy - 18th century
Armorial bindings - Great Britain - 18th century


Thomas Patch, draughtsman, engraver
Horace Walpole, 4th Earl of Orford, dedicatee
Bartolommeo Fra, source artist
Anthony Wessely, binder