THE PAPER MUSEUM OF CASSIANO DAL POZZO A CATALOGUE RAISONNÉ

DRAWINGS AND PRINTS IN THE ROYAL LIBRARY AT WINDSOR CASTLE,
THE BRITISH MUSEUM, THE INSTITUT DE FRANCE AND OTHER COLLECTIONS

THE ‘MUSEO CARTACEO’, or ‘Paper Museum’, is a collection of more than 7,000 watercolours, drawings and prints, assembled during the seventeenth century by the famous Roman patron and collector, Cassiano dal Pozzo, and his brother Carlo Antonio dal Pozzo. It represents one of the most significant attempts ever made before the age of photography to embrace all human knowledge in visual form. Documenting ancient art, archaeology, botany, geology, ornithology and zoology, the collection today constitutes a visual database that provides us with a significant tool for understanding the culture and intellectual concerns of a period during which the foundations of our own scientific methods of research and classification were laid down. Moreover, the Paper Museum reflects the taste and intellectual breadth of one of the most learned and enthusiastic of all seventeenth-century Roman collectors. As secretary to Cardinal Francesco Barberini, as well as patron of such artists as Poussin, and a friend of Galileo, Cassiano dal Pozzo crossed the boundaries of artistic, scientific and political disciplines, to create his unique visual encyclopedia.

The Paper Museum was sold by Cassiano’s heirs to Pope Clement XI Albani in the early eighteenth century. It remained in the Albani collection until it was acquired in 1762 by George III – though not in its entirety – for his library at Buckingham House. In 1834, the collection was transferred to the Royal Library created by William IV at Windsor Castle.

THE PUBLICATION of a Catalogue Raisonné of the Paper Museum provides access for the first time to a major source of reference for the intellectual, cultural and scientific history of seventeenth-century Europe. The drawings are catalogued by subject matter (rather than by artist) in an attempt to reconstruct the method of classification employed by Cassiano. The objective is to identify the subject of each drawing and to describe the circumstances in which the drawing was made, wherever possible with reference to surviving contemporary documentation.

The Catalogue is being published in thirty-six separate volumes, divided into three series: Series A, which covers Antiquities and Architecture; Series B, which deals with Natural History; and Series C, covering the prints. Each part in a series will be devoted to a particular area of the collection and the catalogues are being written by leading scholars in the relevant areas.

The published volumes cover not just the major portion of the Paper Museum that is kept in the Royal Library at Windsor Castle, but also the material now in the British Museum's Department of Greek and Roman Antiquities, the British Library, the Library of the Sir John Soane's Museum, the Institut de France in Paris and a number of other public and private collections, thus bringing together again the contents of the original Paper Museum for the first time since its sale and dispersal.

Each volume consists of introductory essays followed by catalogue entries; the latter provide commentaries as well as details of the media, annotations, inscriptions, drawing-sheets, mount-sheets, watermarks, provenance and related literature. The volumes also include concordances, bibliographies, documentary appendices, watermark listings and indices.

A special feature of the Catalogue Raisonné is the corpus of illustrations: every item in the collection is reproduced, usually as a full-page colour plate, and selected comparative illustrations (in both colour and black and white) show extant monuments or decorations in situ as well as natural history specimens.

Scholarly research was conducted during the first few years with the generous support of Olivetti, which resulted in an exhibition on the Paper Museum at the British Museum in 1993, and the publication of four collections of studies, the Quaderni Puteani (1989-1993, including the exhibition catalogue). As a British Academy Research Project the catalogue raisonné is supported by the British Academy and also benefits from the  patronage of the Accademia dei Lincei and the Académie des Inscriptions et des Belles-Lettres. The Catalogue is being published with the assistance of the Getty Grant Program, the Michael Bishop Foundation, the Monument Trust, The Royal Collection Trust and a number of other private and corporate sponsors.

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Published volumes