‘Ad explicandum phisicam eclect[i]cam R.P. Joannis Lavagna S.J. tabulae decem et octo.’

Venice, 1789.

Manuscript on paper, in Latin, 4to (c. 205 x 160 mm), ff. [37], comprising a handsome monochrome watercolour frontispiece after Guercino’s ‘The Persian Sibyl’, title-page with vignette of scientific instruments, and 19 numbered plates (mostly double page) with a total of 190 numbered diagrams skilfully executed in ink and wash; a few light marks; very well preserved in original ‘carta rustica’, speckled paper spine, spine label with ‘Phisicae tab. M.S.’ in ink; a little wear to edges and upper board; blind embossed stamp to rear endpaper of ‘Neatham Mill Library'.


US $3147€2916

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A splendid manuscript devoted to physics, comprising 190 beautifully executed diagrams covering matter and motion, gravity, light, sound, hydrostatics, and magnetism, compiled by the Venetian Jesuit Giovanni Lavagna.

Divided into five parts, Lavagna’s work comprises six plates ‘de materia et motu’, five ‘de corporum gravitate’, another five ‘de luce’, and one each ‘de sono’, ‘de hydrostatica’ and ‘de magnete’, replete with, inter alia, balls, scales, levers, gears, pulleys, terrestrial and celestial globes, astronomical diagrams, mirrors, lenses, prisms, and trumpets.

The serious intellectual content is offset with some charming details: one Venetian gondola pulling another; a man shooting at a fish in water with a flintlock rifle; another lifting up a cat with a lever; a child amusing himself with a pulley; a sunrise; two gentlemen observing a Hermes-topped Corinthian column in a mirror; and lightning striking a hillside in a brooding rural landscape.

Lavagna does not appear to have published anything. He does not, for example, feature in Sommervogel’s Bibliothèque de la Compagnie de Jésus.

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