Domenico Fossati Sketchbooks


“Perhaps the most charming objects in Professor Friend’s collection are the two sketchbooks by the Venetian artist and stage designer Domenico Fossati (1743-1784),” writes David R. Coffin, Class of 1940 for the Princeton University Library Chronicle.

“The small sketchbook … has on its first folio the date “4 Febrajo 1784,” the year of Fossati’s death, but there is evidence that it was used by him earlier. A pocketbook of thirty-eight folios, most of the sketches are hasty ones for stage sets done in ink, but scattered among the stage designs are some wonderful details of rococo ornament done in pencil or in a gray-blue wash with a brush.”


“The larger notebook …, with forty-two bound folios and two smaller loose sketches pasted in at the end, commences with a large series of very finished drawings, many of them magnificent in their choice of colored washes. Perhaps the most striking of these is an underworld scene, and still other designs are exotic in character, combining the wonderful curves of late rococo decoration with elements of chinoiserie.”

The scrapbooks are part of TC020, a collection of theatrical drawings given by Professor Albert M. Friend, Jr., Class of 1915 (1894-1956). The collection consists of some sixty-two single sheets of drawings and two double leaves, the latter probably from sketchbooks of the Austrian theatrical designer Josef Platzer (1751-1806). Along with the Fossati sketchbooks, there are also drawings by Juvara, Sacchetti, Bernardino Galliari, Minozzi, and others. Here is a checklist:


Albert Mathias Friend Collection of 18th-century Set Designs, 1700s. Graphic Arts Collection (GA) TC020