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FORTIS, Alberto.

(1741 – 1803)

(Born: Padova, Italy, 9 November 1741; Died: Bologna, Italy, 21 October 1803) Italian abate & geologist.

Fortis was a Catholic clergyman, naturalist, bibliophile, and much-published author. He lived first in Rome, then later after many travels, he eventually became a librarian in Bologna. Fortis was a member of the Societé Italiana and the Academy at Padua.

Biographical references: ABI: I 425, 386-438; II 249, 91-97; 249, 121. Benvenuti, Dizionario degli Italiani all'Estero, 1890. Casati, Dizionario degli Scrittori d'Italia, 1925-34. Catalogue of Portraits of Naturalists: 441 [1 portrait listed]. Ciancio, L., Autopsie della terra illuminismo e geologia in Alberto Fortis (1741-1803). Firenze, L.S. Olschki, 1995. 385 p., illus. [Published as: Biblioteca di Nuncius, no. 18; ISBN 88-222-4331-5]. De Tipaldo, Biografia degli Italiani, 1834-45. Frati, Dizionario Bio-bibliografico Italiani, 1933. Imperatori, Dizionario di Italiani all'Estero, 1956. Parenti, Aggiunte al Dizionario, 1952-60. Poggendorff: 1, cols. 778-9. WBI. Wolff, L., "The Enlightened Anthropology of Friendship in Venetian Dalmatia: Primitive Ferocity and Ritual Fraternity Among the Morlacchi", Eighteenth-Century Studies, 32.2, Winter 1998-1999, ??-??. [Subjects include Fortis, Alberto, 1741-1803. Viaggio in Dalmazia.].

1. Italian, 1771.
Saggio d'osservazioni sopra l'Isola di Cherso ed Osero, d'Alberto Fortis ... In Venezia, Presso Gaspare Storti, MDCCLXXI.

4°: [6], 169, [2] p., 3 plates, folding map. Pages 143-144 are blank, but included in the pagination. Very scarce.

Bibliographical references: BL [981.d.10.]. LKG: XIV 642.

2. German, 1779.
Beschreibung des Thales Ronca im veronesischen Gebiet. Aus dem Italiänischen übersetzt von F.A. Weber. Heydelberg: Pfähler, 1779.

8°: viii, 104 p., 4 folding plates.

Very scarce. LKG: XIV 644b. First German edition, translated by Friedrich August Weber.

Bibliographical references: BL [972.g.33.]. LKG: XIV 644b.

3. Italian, 1778.
Della Valle | Vulcanico-Marina | Di Roncà | Nel Teritorio Veronese | Memoria Orittografica. | Del Sig. Abate Fortis, | [...2 lines of titles and memberships...] | [vignette] | In Venezia | MDCCLXXVIII. | [double rule] | Nella Stamperia di Carlo Palese.

8°: [I]-LXX p., [1 (blank)] f., 4 fold-out plates.

Very scarce. The title of this work includes the unusual and rare word "orittografica," from the Greek oryctographia, literally "writing about digging," and refers to a combined interest in geology and paleontology. It is, in fact, an essay on the natural history of the volcanic valley of Ronca near Verona, including a discussion of the geology and fossils found in the valley. It is printed with some very fine etchings on fold-out plates. The first plate shows fossil sea-shells, the remainder showing dramatic formations of volcanic rock and the natural scenery around them.

Bibliographical references: BL [457.d.10.]. LKG: XIV 643a. Ward & Carozzi, Geology Emerging, 1984: no. 849.

4. Italian, 1786.
Delle ossa d'Elefanti, e d'altre Curiosità Naturali de' Monti di Romagnano nel Veronese, Memoria Epistolare Diretta al ... Guiseppe Cobres ... dall' Abate Alberto Fortis ... Vincenza, Nella Stamperia Turra, 1786.

8°: 85 p., 1 folding leaf of plates.

Rare. Letter on fossilized elephant bones found in the region of Verona, Italy. It is addressed to the German naturalist Joseph Paul von Corbes.

Bibliographical references: BL [953.f.3.(2.)]. LKG: XVII 95.

5. French, 1802.
Mémoires pour servir à l'histoire naturelle et principalement à l'oryctographie de l'Italie, et des pays adjacens; par Albert Fortis ... A Paris: Chez J.J. Fuchs, l'an X.

2 vols.

Very scarce. LKG: XIV 518. First edition. Concerns the geology and mineralogy of Italy.

Bibliographical references: BL [726.i.1.]. LKG: XIV 518. Ward & Carozzi, Geology Emerging, 1984: no. 850.

6. Italian, 1774.
Viaggio | In | Dalmazia | Dell' | Abate Alberto Fortis. | [rule] | [...2 lines of quotation, signed Macros...] | [rule] | Volume Primo. | [ornament] | In Venezia. | Presso Alvise Milocco, all' Apolline. | [rule] | MDCCLXXIV.

2 vols. 8°. viii, 180, xlvii, [1]; [2], [iii]-viii, 204 pp. With 2 folding maps and 13 engraved plates (all folding). 4to., 254 x 185 mm

Very scarce. Bound with: Antal Verancsics Iter Buda Hadrianopolim anno MDLIII exaratum ab Antonio Verantio ... nunc primum e Verantiano carthophylacio in lucem editum at end of volume one, with separate title page and pagination.Fortis, an Augustinian friar, physician, naturalist, poet, journalist (and finally librarian of the Bologna library) resided in Croatia from 1771 to 1774; his letters, describing the country and its people, to various luminaries were collected together and published in the present volume. Included are his observations of Cherso and Osero, and the account of the voyage of Antonio Veranzio from Budapest to Constantinople in 1553, edited by Fortis. There are numerous details of the Morlacchi, or Vlassi as they called themselves. In his account Fortis outlined many of the divisions and tensions: the Vlassi despised the people of the coastal towns, who heartily detested them in return. To Fortis the Morlacchi represented a key to the ethnographic identity of Eastern Europe, since they could be identified by their language as Slavs. The accidental discovery of coins, walls and a necropolis at Tupeci made Fortis famous; the naturalist came to the conclusion that the locality could have been the site of the Late Antiquity Laurentum described by Procopius (500? - 565? AD), a Byzantine historian. The engravings depict landscape views, native costumes, archeological ruins, fossils, mineral formations, Fortis's Viaggio in Dalmaziawas translated into English and French, both editions published in 1778. The above work was quoted by Montague Summers in The Vampire: His Kith and Kin(reprinted 1960): "When a man dies suspected of becoming a Vampire or Vulkodlak, as they call it, they cut his hams, and prick his whole body with pins, pretending that, after this operation, he cannot walk about." Another method found to incapacitate the body of an individual destined for vampirism is to break the deceased's spine. Mustard seeds were often placed in the coffin in order to keep the vampire busy counting them" (pp. 204-210). The discrepancy between the number of plates called for on the title-page and the number found in other perfect copies may be accounted for by several plates showing more than one subject.

Bibliographical references: Apponyi, Hungarica Ungarn Bücher, 1903-27: no. ??. BL [454.a.13.]. LKG: XIV 841.

7. German, 1776.
Reise in Dalmatien. Aus dem Italianischen. Bern, 1776.

2 vols. 13 plates, 3 maps. 8°:

Very scarce. First German edition, translated from Viaggo in Dalmazia (1774).

Bibliographical references: BL [1049.b.24.]. LKG: XIV 841.

8. English, 1778.
Travels into Dalmatia; containing general observations on the natural history of that country and the neighboring islands; the natural productions, arts, manners, and customs of the inhabitants; in a series of letters from AbbéAlberto Fortis ... To which are added by the same author. Observations on the island of Cherso and Osero. Translated from the Italian under the author's inspection. With an appendix and other considerable additions, never before printed. Illustrated with twenty copper plates ... London: Printed for J. Robson, 1778.

8°: [2], x, 584 p., 19 plates (partly folding), one map.

Very scarce. First English edition, translated from Viaggo in Dalmazia (1774).

Bibliographical references: BL [149.d.3.]. LKG: XIV 841.

9. French, 1778.
Voyage en Dalmatie. Traduit de l'Italien. Berne: Sociéte typ., 1778.

2 vols. 8°. 2 folding maps, plates.

Very scarce. First French edition, translated from Vaggio in Dalmazia (1774).

Bibliographical references: LKG: XIV 841.

10. German, 1797.
Reisebeschreibung von Dalmatien; geographische, historische, naturalistische Denwürdigkeiten auch von den Sitten der Morlaken. Aus dem Italiänischen. Bern: Typographische Scoietät, 1797.

2 vols. 8°:

Very scarce. Second German edition, translated from Viaggo in Dalmazia (1774).

Bibliographical references: LKG: XIV 841.

11. German, 1775.
Die Sitten der Morlacken aus dem Italiänischen übersetzt. Bern: Typographische Gesellschaft, 1775.

8°: [4], 99, [1] p., frontispiece, plates.

Very scarce. First German edition, translated by Friedrich Werthes from Viaggo in Dalmazia (1774). Not a complete translation. Caption title: "Von den Sitten der Morlacken."

12. German, 1788.
Mineralogische Reise durch Calabrien und Apulien. In Briefen and den Grafen Thomas von Bassegli in Ragusa. Aus dem Italienischen. Weimar: Hoffmannischen Buchhandlung, 1788.

8°: 128 p.

Very scarce. First German edition, translated by Joachim Christoph Friedrich Schulz, novelist.

Bibliographical references: BL [972.e.21.]. Hoover Collection: no. 319. LKG: XIV 559. Roller & Goodman, Catalogue, 1976: 1, 410.

13. German, 1792.
Reise zu den Morlacken. Lausanne: Bey der Typographischen Gesellschaft, 1792.

8°: [4], 99, [1] p., 3 plates.

Very scarce. Second German edition, translated by Friedrich Werthes from Viaggo in Dalmazia (1774). Caption title: "Von den Sitten der Morlacken." First published in 1775 under the title: "Die Sitten der Morlacken."

Bibliographical references: BL [1049.b.26.].

14. Italian, 1790.
Mémoria ... al celebre sig. commendatore F. Diodato Dolomieu ... sopra la miniera di carbone di Sogliano in Romagna. Cesena: Eredi Biasini, 1790.

8°: 31, [1] p.

Very scarce. Concerns coal deposits in Italy.

15. Italian, 1793.
Due lettere su i pesci fossili del Monte Bolca. (Lettera del Abate F. al Abate Testa sopra i pesci ischeletriti de Monti di Bolca.-Seconda lettera del Abate Testa su i pesci fossili del Monte Bolca in riposta alla precedente, etc.). Venezia, Presso A. Zatta, 1793.

4°: 96 p.

Very scarce. First edition. Concerns fossil fish found around Bolca, Italy.

Bibliographical references: BL [899.i.2.(7.)].

16. German, 1792.
Mineralogische Beschreibungen merkwurdiger Gebirge und Vulkane Italien. Aus dem Italianische übersetzt von F.A. Weber. Bern, 1792.

2 vols. 8°:

Very scarce. Pini and Strange.

Bibliographical references: LKG: XIV 517.