THE CIVIL ARCHITECTURE OF VITRUVIUS.

(London: Printed by Thomas Davison for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme and Brown. 1812 [i.e. 1813-17]). 342 x 277 mm. (13 1/2 x 11"). 4 p.l., lxxvi, 282 pp., lacking final leaf (blank on recto and with printer's name on verso). First Edition of Wilkins' translation.

Contemporary half calf over marbled boards, rebacked to style and recornered, raised bands blind-tooled with floral motifs, compartments ruled in gilt, second compartment with gilt lettering, marbled edges. With 41 engraved architectural plates. Front pastedown with armorial bookplate of Jolliffe. A Large Paper Copy. Millard "British" 86; Fowler 429; Cicognara 744; Brunet V, 1331. ◆Boards a little chafed, other wear and slight soiling to the binding, but the volume entirely sound. Contents with light offsetting and the foxing that seems to be found in all copies (generally minor to moderate here, but not infrequently heavier on plates and facing text), a couple of light marginal dampstains, but still a perfectly satisfactory copy with no fatal condition issues, clean and with conspicuously wide margins.

Written by an accomplished scholar and architect best known for designing the National Gallery and University College in London, this is an important translation of books three through six of Vitruvius' "Ten Books on Architecture," with illustrations and commentary rooted in the latest archaeological evidence. Composed in the first century B.C., Vitruvius' "De Architectura" is, in the words of PMM, "the only Roman work inspired by Greek architecture that has come down to us." It is a thorough examination of Hellenistic and Roman practice in not only architecture, but also town planning and civil engineering. Because it was the only work in its field with the cachet of antiquity, "De Architectura" influenced such architects of the Renaissance as Bramante, Michelangelo, Palladio, and Alberti, and, through these figures, many generations of later architects and builders. Interest in Vitruvius was renewed in the 19th century thanks to a surge in classical scholarship and archaeology, as well as the fashion for Greek revival architecture. The present translation by William Wilkins (1779-1839) was, in the words of Millard, "Written by an architect with contemporary architecture very much in mind," and deserving praise for "the clarity of its texts and illustrations demonstrating the heights to which British book production rose shortly before the machine-press period." Although the publication date given on the title page is 1812, the work was apparently issued in parts between 1813-17, as suggested by the dates on the plates. Wilkins limits the scope of his translation to the sections that cover civil architecture, or, as Millard observes, "those most concerned with building design rather than materials, inventions, etc." In addition to the National Gallery and University College, Wilkins was also commissioned to work on three different Cambridge Colleges, various country houses, the East India House, and numerous other projects. DNB tells us that Wilkins' career "typifies proto-professional architectural practice, combining the skills of the artisan with the learning of the antiquary, but also anticipates the incorporation of gentrified social and academic values which elevated the status of architecture to that of a profession within the Victorian period."
(ST17496-046)

Price: $1,250.00