A Vast Volume with Sometimes Just as Vast (and Beautiful) Scenes of Italian Ruins


(London: Printed for Edward Orme by W. Bulmer and Co.; J. F. Dove, 1812 [but 1811 - ca. 1823: see below]). 480 x 335 mm. (19 x 13"). 1 p.l. (title), 50 pp. (plus plates). (Collation matching Abbey and Tooley.) FIRST EDITION.

Modern retrospective red half morocco over older marbled boards, front cover with original red morocco title label, flat spine with densely tooled gilt panels at head and tail, gilt titling, expertly reinforced hinges, all edges gilt. WITH 25 BEAUTIFULLY ENGRAVED PLATES by M. Dubourg after Middleton, Philip Giuntotardi, and others, 23 OF THEM HAND-COLORED AQUATINTS (THREE DOUBLE-PAGE), and two of them plain line engravings. Abbey, "Travel" 165; Tooley 328; Avery Architectural Library, p. 666. ◆Inconspicuous abrasions to paper boards, minor stain to fore edge of front flyleaf, a handful of leaves with inconsequential small, faint spots at margins, the vaguest hint of offsetting onto small portions of two plates, but QUITE A FINE COPY, the binding expertly restored and certainly pleasing, and the engravings richly colored as well as entirely clean and fresh.

This is a masterwork of aquatint engraving notable for the beauty and precision of its depictions of ancient Greek and Roman ruins in Italy. The plates are visually impressive--the three double-page images especially so--showing to good advantage architectural ruins, Italian towns, and surrounding landscapes, often in the form of memorable vistas. Author and artist John Izard Middleton (1785-1849) was the son of Arthur Middleton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. He spent much of his adult life travelling in France and Italy where, like many contemporary travellers, he sketched extensively. His careful depictions of ancient ruins established him as one of America's first Classical archaeologists. Middleton deserves more credit as a topographical artist than he has received. A number of his drawings turned up without attribution in other books, notably those of the more famous Edward Dodwell, with whom our author travelled and whose "Views in Greece" and "Tour through Greece" were substantial and well received publications. This copy of "Grecian Remains" is a first edition, but it's more complicated than that. The book was originally issued in parts over a period of nine years (probably during 1811-1812 and in 1819), with the title page (as here) dated 1812. The plates themselves were issued in 1818 or later, and then combined with the separately printed installments of text. In our copy, the paper on which the text is printed is watermarked 1805 for parts I-III, and 1818 for parts IV-VII, surely indicating that the letterpress here represents the original parts. All but one of our plates are on paper watermarked 1818 (our later plate being dated 1823). Abbey's copy had watermarks identical to ours. Whatever the dates of the paper they were printed on, our plates are clear, sharp, and beautifully colored. The present copy is remarkable in that the fatal offsetting from text onto plates, which mars the vast majority of otherwise beautiful color plate books, is virtually absent here.

Price: $19,500.00