by Marsha Stevenson, Visual Arts Librarian
The Very Rev. Jeremiah Donovan, D.D., professor of Rhetoric at Maynooth College, travelled to Rome in the 1830s and resided there for nine years. He documented his observations and recounted his impressions in his four-volume Rome, Ancient and Modern and Its Environs, printed privately by Crispino Puccinelli in 1842-44. Enhancing the text are 62 copperplate engravings by Roman artist, Gaetano Cottafavi.
The preface delineates the text’s arrangement as a “rapid historical sketch . . . with notices geological, statistical, political and religious,” followed by an admirably detailed description of the modern city’s “churches, palaces, museums, galleries, charitable institutions, hospitals, prisons, schools, colleges, universities, and other public establishments.” The work continues with “the antiquities ranged for the most part in chronological order” and “conducts the stranger through the environs of Rome” before concluding with a “copious and accurate index.”
Donovan emphasized his “personal observation and methodical description” and does not spare his subjects “unflinching but impartial criticism” even in light of Rome’s “transcendent and peculiar charms.”
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