Night has fallen. The fuse ignites. At first only a hiss. Then a bang. A blazing varicoloured flower suddenly blooms in the sky. Our eyes are filled with wonder. A stunning human artifice: a thrill of joy to celebrate a feast day. As we leaf through the pages of ARTIFICIUM, we find ourselves surrounded by “dazzling chaos”, a brilliant pentagram of forms, sketches and colours, and ephemeral devices, blazing sequences and spinning Catherine wheels suddenly lighting up the night skies. Pietro Grandi recounts the history of fireworks through texts and drawings taken from manuscripts and xylographic and lithographic prints, with which he constructs theatrical scenes in movement. From the birth of the first bamboo tube rocket to cutting-edge electric devices, he accompanies us on a magical journey set against a red backdrop illuminated by sparkling red, gold and white illustrations and blinding pyrotechnic explosions. The face-powder-pink paper transforms the book into an illustrated catalogue of methods, shapes and figures used by pyrotechnic artisans in their workshops. In the richly illustrated afterword, historian Simon Werrett reflects on the depiction of fireworks through the ages: elegant compositions by painters, architects and printers who exalted and ably captured fleeting, sublime moments with ingenuity and curiosity.