Plaw, John ; Laing, David

Ferme ornée; or, rural improvements. A series of domestic and ornamental designs, suited to parks, plantations, rides, walks, rivers, farms, & … calculated for landscape and picturesque effects. Engraved in aquatinta on thirty-eight plates. With appropriate scenery, plans, and explanations. A new edition (bound with) Hints for dwellings : consisting of original designs for cottages, farm-houses, villas, &. plain and ornamental ; with plans to each : in which strict attention is paid to unite convenience and elegance with economy. Including some designs for town houses … elegantly engraved, in aqua-tinta, on thirty-four plates, with appropriate scenery.

London, “J.Taylor, at the Architectural Library, No.59, High Holborn”, 1800, (same imprint) 1801.

Reference: 14534
Price: £895 [convert currency]

Full Description

4to. 2 works in 1. (4) + 13 + (3)pp, 38 sepia aquatint plates; 15 + (1)pp, 34 sepia aquatint plates. Contemporary quarter calf, marbled boards, rebacked using original spine. Faint contemporary ink ownership inscription of P.J.Hamilton on title leaf of second item. Some light browning on outer margins of plates of both titles (as often). George Atkinson’s copy.

John Plaw’s Ferme Ornée, a pattern book first published in 1795, demonstrated Plaw’s ability to design rural buildings of all kinds and uses, ranging from cattle sheds and dog kennels to cottages and farm houses, in an architecturally attractive manner. The volume features a number of designs made for named clients, including a pair of cottages at Belmont, Throwley, Kent, built “in the American style”, farmhouses at Thornville Royal, Yorkshire, and a bath house and fishing lodge commissioned by a client at Brockenhurst, Hampshire. Also of interest is the publicity Plaw gives in his introductory remarks to the potential benefits for cottage building of pisé construction as advocated at the time by François Cointeraux in France. The success of Plaw’s book can be measured by the fact that it was reissued in 1796 and again, with a reset text, in 1800 (the present “new edition”), further editions following in 1803, 1813 and 1823. BAL Cat 2578. Bound with it in this volume is a pattern book by a younger architect David Laing (1774-1856), offering a selection of designs for cottages, farm houses and villas in a classical style owing much to the influence of Sir John Soane, to whom Laing had been articled in 1790. They are shown in front perspective elevation and Laing provides accompanying ground plans. The volume had originally been issued in 1800, but the present copy is of a reissue of 1801 incorporating minor alterations to its text. One of the motives for the 1801 reissue is that Laing, who had been in January 1800 at 7 Thanet Place, Temple Bar, had moved by January 1801 to Cannon Row, Parliament Street. This change of address illustrate the difficulties facing younger architects seeking to establish themselves in the profession, as does the fact that various of the designs illustrated were evidently prepared for clients who did not in the event employ Laing as their architect ; these included two clients in Ireland (of whom one appears to have been Lord Cloncurry, a sympathiser with Irish nationalist aspirations), and, more unexpectedly, a house to be built at Frankfurt am Main for “the late Russian Consul at Hamburgh”. A design that may however have been built in some form or other was one described as going to be built for a client at Abbots Langley, Hertfordshire (plates XV-XVIII) ; Colvin identifies the client concerned as Griffith Jones, and this strongly suggests that the house was Nash Mills, Hertfordshire, known to have been built for Jones and later on to become the residence of the papermaker and antiquary Sir John Evans (and recently largely demolished in rather unfortunate circumstances). Laing’s subsequent architectural career was wrecked by the structural collapse of the new London Customs House, built to his designs between 1812 and 1817, but he was nonetheless an able designer in a manner influenced both by Soane and contemporary French neo-classicism. BAL Cat 1715 (1800 edition, but an incomplete copy).

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