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"The Circus Maximus was the first and largest circus in Rome, the site of games and entertainments, including charioteers, horseback riders, athletes, gladiatorial contests and musicians. The oval shape was particularly well suited to races, and on the track of this print, as the captions indicate, are both large chariots pulled by four horses and single riders. In the center is a large obelisk labeled “sacred to the sun,” a smaller one labeled “sacred to the moon,” and other sculptures including a statue of Fortune, a monument to Neptune topped with sculptures of dolphins, and at either end, groups of three large pillars called “metae,” which marked the starting line of the race course, with another set at the opposite end. In the lower left corner Roman soldiers are restraining two men, though whether they are being forced to compete or being carried away is not clear. Captions also label the orientation of the arena (e.g. “Hinc Aventinus” showing the location of the nearby Aventine hill).
Antoine Lafréry (also known by the Italian name Antonio Lafreri) was a French printseller and publisher, and possibly also an engraver, who moved to Italy and was active in Rome from around 1540 until his death in 1577. His firm published maps and a wide range of prints: ancient and modern Rome, portraits, ornament and mythological, historical and religious subjects. He also bought and sold drawings, coins and medals. Among Lafréry’s publications were two architectural treatises and several sets of ornament prints, including Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae (c. 1540-c.1565). According to the subtitle of Speculum, it had the most accurately drawn representations of nearly all the extant monuments of the City of Rome; in the 1570s, the Lafréry catalogue listed some 500 subjects. Engraving depicting chariot racers in the Circus Maximus, after a painting by the eminent Italian architect and antiquarian Pirro Ligorio. According to the caption, the artist intended to show this Roman stadium as it appeared in antiquity. This engraving was originally published by Michele Tramezzino in 1553, and bears his monogram. Architectural, Italy, Speculum Romanae, Circus Maximus, Rome, Antique Print.
Very Good – light foxing to paper; see pictures
22.5” x 14.75” (Width x Height)