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An impostor's passport for his journey home

[Passano, Giacomo, Italian adventurer (d. 1772)]. Passport.

Karlsruhe, 13 May 1751.

Folio (ca. 210 x 330 mm). 1 p. on bifolium. With papered seal. Signed by the chancellor of the Lord Chamberlain's Office of Baden-Durlach, Johann Georg Grundler.

A passport issued by the court of Baden-Durlach for the Italian adventurer and versatile man of letters Giacomo Passano, who had stayed at the margravial court of Karlsruhe since mid-December 1750 in the capacity of a painter of miniatures, and now intended to return to Italy: "Demnach Vorweißer dieses Giacomo di Passano aus Florenz gebürthig, sich bey die Fünff Monath lang in hiesiger Fürstlichen Residenz alß Miniatur Mahler aufgehalten, nunmehro aber wiederum in Italien zurück zu gehen Vorhabens ist, Alß wird Männiglich Standes Gebühr nach hierdurch ersuchet, ihne aller Orthen, frey, sicher und ohngehindert passiren zu laßen, auch bedürffenden Fallß demselben allen geneigten Willen und Vorschub zu erweißen [...]".

The poet, painter, comedian, theatre director, traveller, and impostor of all trades Passano, also known by his anagrammatic pseudonyms "Ascanio Pogomas" and "Cosimo d’Aspagona", was the son of a Genoese officer in Prussian services. Always a confrontational writer, he took sides with Carlo Goldoni against Pietro Chiari, while his own verses were considered too unrefined to see print. He nursed a long-standing feud with the all-too-similar but more successful Casanova, whom he met in Leghorn in 1760 and whose occultist benefactor Jeanne d’Urfé he managed to woo away in 1763.

A few stains; small edge flaws; the date "1751" shows an (apparently contemporary) erasure in the digit "5". Stored in an old collector's folder. An interesting document from the life of the elusive adventurer whose correspondence copybook for the years 1743-1750 is preserved at the Bibliothèque universitaire de Droit-lettres at the Université Grenoble Alpes; an autograph manuscript was sold at Christie's in 2005.


For Passano see B. Brunelli, Avventurieri minori del settecento: Giacomo Passano (Venice, 1933).