ACKERMANN'S HISTORY OF WESTMINSTER ABBEY, WITH 81 BEAUTIFUL HAND-COLORED AQUATINTS
(ACKERMANN, Rudolf and COMBE, William). The History of the Abbey Church of St. Peter's Westminster, Its Antiquities and Monuments. London: R. Ackermann, 1812. Two volumes bound as one. Thick folio (11-1/2 by 14 inches), contemporary full red morocco, raised bands, elaborately gilt-decorated boards and spine, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. $8200.
First edition of this splendid history of Westminster Abbey, with 81 magnificent hand-colored architectural plates in aquatint, in beautiful contemporary morocco.
In the history of book production "there is no more attractive figure than that of Rudolph Ackermann, through whose extraordinary enterprise and spirit of adventure, aquatint was successfully applied to the illustration of books" (Prideaux, 120). These beautiful hand-colored aquatints depict numerous views of the Abbey, its stained-glass windows, mosaic pavement, its many chapels with monuments and effigies, and its detailed architectural features. The impressions were pulled and hand-colored in the Ackermann studio, whose reputation for producing fine lithographic and aquatint prints spanned centuries. Volume I contains three illustrations: an uncolored portrait of William Vincent, Dean of Westminster, a hand-colored view of the West Front and an uncolored floor plan; Volume II contains 80 magnificent hand-colored aquatints, many by Ackermann's chief artist Augustus Charles Pugin. Pugin had learned aquatinting from Merigot and through his association with John Nash also developed "an accuracy and knowledge of Gothic architecture [that was] influential in establishing a purer appreciation of the style" (Houfe, 266). Text is by William Combe, author of the famous "Dr. Syntax" series, also published by Ackermann (DNB). First edition, second issue, with the first plate in Volume II, entitled "Aymer de Valance," signed "A. Pugin" rather than "F. Mackenzie." Originally issued in paper wrappers in 16 monthly parts. Volume I with "List of Subscribers" (vii-xiii) bound after Introduction; and two-page "Arrangement of the Plates" bound in rear. Without half title in Volume I. Also two uncolored engravings in Volume I, as called for: stipple-engraved portrait of William Vincent, Dean of Westminster, and engraved floor plan of Westminster Abbey. Abbey, Scenery 213, 214. Tooley 2. Upcott II: 859-68.
Plates generally fine, scattered foxing to a few text leaves, front joint expertly reinforced; sumptuous contemporary binding in excellent condition. A lovely and desirable copy.