One of the most influential guidebooks of Renaissance Rome was written by the young Bolognese natural historian Ulisse Aldrovandi. Drafted while he awaited trial for heresy before the Inquisition in 1549–50, his Di tutte le statue antiche describes the private antiquities collections of Rome. It was published in 1556, 1558, and 1562, and was frequently imitated and copied by later authors. Though scholars often cite the text in studies of the history of art and collecting, few have analyzed it in its entirety, and fewer still have considered the ways in which it reflects Aldrovandi’s experience with the Inquisition. The text is more than a simple guidebook: it was designed to flatter powerful patrons who could help Aldrovandi in his predicament with the Holy Office. By examining the context of its creation and its content, this article examines Aldrovandi’s guidebook as a document of sixteenth-century urban social experience.
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