Magnificent 16th-century architectural drawings acquired by the British Architectural Library

  • 3 May 2006

Art Fund has given a grant of £100,000 towards one of the most significant 16th-century collections of architectural drawings of the great buildings of Rome.

The Codex Stosch has been acquired by the British Architectural Library with The Art Fund’s help following an export-stop by Culture Minister, David Lammy in 2005. The total cost of the Stosch was £274,417.

Produced by Giovanni Battista de Sangallo (1496-1548), a member of Raphael’s circle, the drawings appear to be the only surviving outcome of Raphael’s famous proposal to Pope Leo X to record the threatened monuments of Ancient Rome, made some time after 1514.

The Codex once belonged to Baron Philipp von Stosch (1691-1757), a collector, antiquarian and sometime spy for the British state. . While von Stosch is best known for his collection of antique gems he was also in the pay of the British employed to spy on the exiled Jacobite Court of James III in Rome (1689-1718). The Codex disappeared from about 1760 until it was rediscovered in a Northumberland library in March 2005.

The collection is of outstanding significance for the study of architectural history and, in particular, architectural approaches to ancient buildings during the High Renaissance.

It contains 50 highly detailed drawings on 23 folios depicting 16 ancient buildings in Rome and nearby Cori that date from about 1520.

The Art Fund’s Director, David Barrie, said 'This is a unique collection of Renaissance architectural drawings - not only are they highly finished reconstructions of buildings from antiquity but they are closely connected to the work of Raphael and his passion for cataloguing and surveying Rome.'