Sketches in architecture containing plans and elevations of cottahes villas and other useful buildings with characteristic scenery ; Six designs for improving and embellishing grounds. With sections and explanations.
London, Taylor 1793 ; I. & J. Taylor 1793.
Large folio. 2 works in 1. (4) + iv pp, 43 engraved plates, of which 26 are aquatint perspective views, the rest engraved plans (plate VIII is faintly browned and probably supplied by a previous owner from a smaller copy) ; iv + 20pp, 11 engraved plates ; 4pp publisher’s adverts. Twentieth century quarter green morocco, cloth sides (a binding by Garnham, Norwich, dating from the 1970s or 1980s ?), but internally excellent copies, untrimmed at outer edges, in very clean and fresh condition as issued, with the original facing tissues to each plate. Pictorial bookplate of Michael Valentine Briton Riviere FSA.
Good copies of the first editions of these two titles, issued in the same year by the same publisher and almost invariably found bound together as here. They occupy an influential place in the literature of the English picturesque cottage and of English landscape gardening. Sir John Soane’s Sketches in Architecture offers a range of designs for “cottages for the laborious and industrious part of the community” and for “other buildings generally calculated for the real uses and comforts of life, and … within the reach of moderate fortunes”. Only a few of these seem actually to have been executed, but the designs were more overtly picturesque than those in most earlier pattern books, and Soane’s name and architectural talent has given them substantially greater prestige, right down to the present day, than similar designs by such architects as John Plaw.The second item in the volume is a series of designs for landscape gardens by George Isham Parkyns, a painter and engraver from a Nottinghamshire county family whose career later took him to the USA, where he was to make drawings of New York and the earliest known topographical drawing of Washington DC. The present designs date from an earlier period of his life, when he spent his leisure as an officer in the Nottinghamshire Militia during the American War of Independence in “surveying and drawing simple but appropriate decorations for numerous little spots that arrested the eye”; his procedure was to make a measured survey drawing of any such site and do a theoretical redesign of the natural landscape, his objective being to “prune away the exuberances with a careful hand” and thus achieve a properly picturesque effect. The six specimen designs published here, for sites given the appealing names of “Fairfield Cot”, “Rose Cliff”, “Belmont” and so on, typify the enthusiasm of the late eighteenth century educated English public for gardens of this nature, and foreshadow the success as a garden designer of Parkyns’ younger contemporary Humphry Repton. BAL Cat 3099 (Soane) ; Harris/Savage 843 (Soane) ; Berlin Cat 2304, 3426.