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City Monuments and Views

Guidebooks and gazetteers; series of urban vedute; illustrated travelogues; architectural monographs; books on urban archeology and antiquarianism

Rare Books Online Exhibits External Resources Related Content

For armchair travelers, early modern cities must have resembled collections of monuments contained within the circuit of walls, in which views of contemporary palaces and churches—including exterior and interior decorations—increasingly claimed their rightful place alongside ancient remains. It was not until the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries that depictions of streets, squares, rivers, canals, embankments, bridges, markets, and docks also came into prominence, adding gardens as publicly accessible recreational amenities to the list of city attractions. Enhanced with scenes of street life, this image of urban improvement was popularized by widely circulated series of vedute, which visitors valued as souvenirs. The focus of these publications expanded beyond the traditional canon of tourist and pilgrimage destinations, such as Rome, to include other European capitals, notably Amsterdam, Vienna, Florence, London, and Paris.  

Rome of the Grand Tour—as immortalized by Giovanni Battista Falda in his etchings of Roman street views, fountains, gardens, and palaces—is particularly well represented among Dumbarton Oaks holdings. Falda’s celebration of the flourishing papal capital contrasts with Giovanni Battista Piranesi’s somber and inspired vision of antique ruins of the Campus Martius. A different version of antiquarianism is exemplified by Antonio Bosio’s exploration of the subterranean world of Christian catacombs, its copy featuring the Pamphilj coat-of-arms of Pope Innocent X. Recent additions comprise a selection of books from the Sergio Rossetti collection, including a rare set of prints of Roman fountains by Giuseppe Tiburzio Vergelli.  

A parallel genre of urban representations associated with cultural and religious pilgrimage that evolved in late Edo Japan is exemplified by the illustrated guidebook to the gardens and scenic spots around Kyoto, published in 1799 by Ritō Akisato.


Searching for Materials in HOLLIS​

In addition to select digitized titles, the Dumbarton Oaks Rare Book Collection holds numerous materials related to city monuments and views. To quickly locate items in HOLLIS, use the “Advanced Search” feature to specify material subject, language, date range, or other criteria. Relevant subjects include the following:

Rome (Italy) -- Buildings, structures, etc.

Palaces -- France

Fountains -- Italy

Gardens -- Austria

Gardens -- Japan -- Kyoto


Digitized Rare Books

Online Exhibits

Explore highlights from the collection related to botanical illustration below, or view all online exhibits.

External Resources

MappingRome is a collaborative research project of historians, art historians, geographers and digital designers centered around Dartmouth College, the University of Oregon and Stanford University. This work in progress aims to create an encyclopedic platform comprised of multilayered historic maps replete with dynamic features keyed to a timeline, vetted annotations, patrons, artists, relevant bibliography, historic and photographic images and other data.

Zuccaro is a database on Roman architecture, urbanism, and painting developed at the Bibliotheca Hertziana, Max Planck Institute for Art History. In addition to searching the database, you can also browse the provided sample queries, such as representations of fountains and travel sketchbooks.

The Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae is a collection of engravings of Rome and Roman antiquities, the core of which consists of prints published by Antonio Lafreri. In addition to searching the collection, users can explore digitized materials through virtual itineraries—mini-exhibitions designed by scholars that are organized around a particular theme, location, collection, or artist.

The American Viewbooks Collection at Columbia University’s Avery Architectural and Fine Arts library provides pictorial documentation of cities and towns throughout the United States. The collection is comprised of more than 4,000 titles, including printed books, photographic albums, and novelties. Together, these items present an evolving illustrated history of the American-built environment from the mid-nineteenth century to the twentieth century.

Getty Research Institute’s Italy on the Grand Tour is a compilation of three related exhibitions—Naples and Vesuvius on the Grand Tour, Rome on the Grand Tour, and Drawing Italy in the Age of the Grand Tour—that explore the importance of the Grant Tour as an artistic and cultural phenomenon. Artwork from the Getty Collections can be viewed under Experience the Grand Tour.

The City Maps and Urban Environments exhibit on Harvard Digital Collections allows users to explore maps of urban design, artistic prints, and urban planning documents from around the world. The exhibit contains images of hundreds of maps, from the sixteenth century to the present, scanned from the Harvard Map Collection.


Related Collection Strengths

Learn more about other collection strengths that may contain materials of interest to this research topic, or view all collection strengths.

Related Content

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