Publisher Information: Basel: C. de Mechel, 1778.
Pigage, Nicolas de (1723-96) and Christian von Mechel (1737-1817). La galerie électorale de Dusseldorff, ou, catalogue raisonné et figuré de ses tableaux . . . Oblong folio. [iii] - xiv, , 34, , 28, , 52, , 42, , 28, , 44pp. 30 engraved plates with guards, numbered A – D and I – XXVI, engraved vignettes. Title-leaf misbound after plates. Basel: Chez Chrétien de Mechel & chez Mrs. les Inspecteurs des Galeries Électorales à Dusseldorff & à Mannheim, 1778. 380 x 282 mm. 19th-century half morocco, gilt spine, a bit rubbed. Minor foxing and browning, a few small marginal tears but very good.
First Edition. “A revolutionary step in the history of museums, museum publications, and the art book” (Gaehtgens and Marchesano, p. 33). La galerie électorale de Dusseldorff, an illustrated catalogue of the magnificent art collection of Carl Theodor, Elector of Bavaria (1724-99), was the first such publication to contain both illustrations and detailed descriptions of the artwork being recorded; “no other text describing in great depth the individual paintings in a gallery’s collection existed at the time” (ibid.). The Elector’s collection of Italian and Flemish paintings, including a large group by Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640), and other important paintings by Vandyk, Giordano, Tintoretto, Carracci, Veronese, Raphael, Corregio, Rembrandt and Reni, were reproduced in the catalogue by engravings showing the paintings in situ on the walls of the Dusseldorf gallery. These engravings, sumptuously printed on thick paper, illustrated the gallery’s innovative approach to staging its paintings: Not only did the gallery abandon the practice of hanging paintings frame-to-frame, “allowing them to preserve their identity as works of art in the space,” but “the principle of hanging paintings in a gallery according to decorative and representational considerations was abandoned in favor of a system of order determined by the history and significance of the artwork themselves, resulting in a history of art” (Gaehtgens and Marchesano, p. 31). The Elector’s gallery can thus be seen as an important ancestor of the modern museum, and its catalogue as a forerunner of the modern museum catalogue. The allegorical frontispiece by Nicolas Guibal includes a portrait of Prince Elector Johann Wilhelm von der Pfalz, the founder of the art collection. Gaehtgens and Marchesano, Display & Art History: The Dusseldorf Gallery and its Catalogue (2011).Book Id: 43929