A Fine Copy of a "Magnificent and Grandious" Large Folio, With Scottish, French, Italian, and Croation Connections


(London: Printed for the Author, 1764). 520 x 365 mm. (20 3/4 x 14 1/4"). iv, [8] (subscribers list), 33 pp. FIRST EDITION.

Attractive modern light green half morocco, gilt, by J. F. Newman of Dublin (his ticket on front pastedown), raised bands, spine panels with central patera ornament, two darker green morocco labels, reinforced hinges, edges untrimmed. WITH 61 SPLENDID ENGRAVINGS (14 plans and elevations, 47 views) ON 54 PLATES (eight double-page, six folding) by Bartolozzi and others. Front flyleaf with ink signature of Francis D. Bedford dated October 1886. Cicognara 3567; Fowler 2. ◆Spine sunned to a light olive shade, one corner bumped, one plate with a little browning along the fold, occasional mild marginal foxing or trivial smudges, but A FINE COPY--fresh, bright, and clean internally, with deep impressions of the type, rich impressions of the plates, and generous margins, in a binding with few signs of wear.

This is an extremely appealing copy of one of the great architectural books of the 18th century, described by Cicognara as a "magnificent and grandiose work." Scottish architect Robert Adam (1728-92) was a product of the Scottish Enlightenment, and moved in intellectual circles that included historian William Robertson (who wrote the introduction here), David Hume, and Adam Smith. His interest in architectural drawing was stimulated by books in his father's extensive library, which DNB tells us contained "a working collection of illustrated architectural books in English, French, and Italian, and a series of manuals on architectural draughtsmanship." This curiosity developed into a passion during his 1755-57 tour of Italy, which "was in every way a period of intense professional training during which the skills learned in Scotland were tested and given an international gloss by the Roman circle in which he now moved." (DNB) At the center of this circle was French architect, antiquarian, and artist Charles-Louis Clérisseau (1721-1820), the leading authority on Roman antiquities and architecture, who introduced Adams to, among others, the great Piranesi. With Clérisseau as guide and tutor, he explored and sketched various sites before arriving at the un-surveyed fortress palace built by the former emperor Diocletian at Spalatro (the modern-day Croatian city of Split). Adam undertook a survey of the building and drew the architectural plans and elevations for this work, while Clérisseau sketched views of the ruins. Adam planned this book as a way of promoting his career as an architect, and worked with Clérisseau to have engravings made for it. According to Thom, "while the traditional plans, elevations and sections--what Robert Adam called the 'Geometricals'--were generally supplied by English engravers like Rooker, Patton and Walker, the all-important picturesque views and perspectives, which Adam thought were essential to convey the emotional impact of the remains of Diocletian's Palace, were engraved in Italy, mostly by Bartolozzi, Paolo Santini, and Zucchi." Adams also wrote the architectural commentary. The publication was a success, praised by the "Critical Review" in October 1864 as possessing "a taste and execution that has never been equalled in [England]." As DNB observes, "during these two Roman years Adam succeeded in transforming himself from a provincial and rather green Scottish architect into a cosmopolitan figure, ready indeed to put into effect 'the Antique, the Noble & Stupendous.'" Now based in London, he embarked on a distinguished career, specializing in country houses and townhomes that reflected the deep influence classical architecture and his Italian sojourn had on his work. Our copy was once owned by another artist, Francis Donkin Bedford (1864-1954), who exhibited landscapes at the Royal Academy and illustrated books during the Golden Age of children's book illustration in the late 19th and early 20th century.

Price: $12,500.00