The book „Memorie istoriche della gran cupola del tempio vaticano, e de’danni di essa, e de’ristoramenti loro“ (Historical memoirs of the great dome of the Vatican temple) was written by Giovanni Poleni. It is stored in the Werner Oechslin library in Einsiedeln. There were only 700 copies printed.
The first part of the book is a dedication from the author to the Pope Benedict XIV. The literary work speaks about the structural design of the St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome. At the time of Michelangelo’s (architect of St. Peter’s) death in 1564, the dome itself was left unfinished, but work on it was continued by Vignola an Giacomo della Porta. However, existing cracks and earthquakes questioned the stability of the dome. Therefore Pope Benedict XIV called in a fifth commission twenty-nine experts under Giovanni Poleni (Professor of Mathematics at the University of Padua) to Rome to discuss the stability of the St Peter’s Cathedral. The pope wanted a detailed report on the structure of the entire building, to make sure, that there was no danger of the dome collapsing. A number of solutions were proposed, but in the end it was Poleni’s own proposal that prevailed, advising that the worst cracks should be filled and that the dome be encircled at strategic points with iron trusses. The work was carried out between 1743 and 1744 by the architect Luigi Vanvitelli. The book “Memorie istoriche della gran cupola del tempio vaticano” is a record of the fifth commission, it comprises a history of the dome, details of the work and the solution.
Formally the literary work consists of five books in one volume, continuously connected. The book is bound with light brown leather. In addition, one can find golden details and the cardinal’s coat of arms on the cover and even on the red back title plate. Further there’s a red ribbon in the book. All chapters contain plans of the St Peter’s Cathedral and images. There is a total of 36 illustrations, tables and foldings included. The whole book consists of 470 columns (two on each page).
Being 460mm high, 330mm long and 45mm wide the size of the book corresponds to the standard size “Folio” (because the outside height is over 300mm).