"A FIELD ARCHAEOLOGIST MUCH AHEAD OF HIS TIME": LYSONS' ACCOUNT OF ROMAN ANTIQUITIES DISCOVERED AT WOODCHESTER, 1797 FIRST EDITION, WITH 40 LOVELY ELEPHANT FOLIO AQUATINTS, 33 FINELY HAND-COLORED
LYSONS, Samuel. An Account of Roman Antiquities Discovered at Woodchester in the County of Gloucester. London: Cadell & Davies, et al., 1797. Elephant folio (17 by 22-1/2 inches), 19th-century calf with inlaid cloth covers sympathetically rebacked, original printed title label affixed to front cover. $12,500.
First edition of this survey of the second-century Roman villa at Woodchester, an elephant folio lavishly illustrated with hand-colored aquatint title page and dedication leaf, two large aquatint vignettes, and 40 aquatint plates, 33 hand-colored, of which nine are double-page—including two lovely double-page views of Woodchester and the surrounding countryside. A splendid volume.
This work on the second-century Roman villa at Woodchester in Gloucestershire remains the principal account of the site. Lysons unearthed several fragments of sculpture, now in the British Museum, and the celebrated "Orpheus Pavement," which remains in situ underground in front of the church in Woodchester. "Lysons was an artist of some skill, and between 1785 and 1796 was an occasional exhibitor at the Royal Academy of views of old buildings. He also contributed numerous etchings to his brother Daniel's Environs of London. A field archaeologist much ahead of his time is revealed by the reports of the sites upon which Lysons worked, such as the Woodchester Roman pavement [the present work] and other Roman sites, including Horkstow in Lincolnshire, Frampton in Dorset, Bignor in Sussex, and Bath. He was able to illustrate these reports quite lavishly" (ODNB). Plates watermarked 1794, indicating earliest issue; in Abbey's copy some of the plates are watermarked 1810, "which indicates that parts of the book continued to be printed without the title page being altered for at least 13 years" (Abbey). Text in English and French. Abbey, Scenery 143. Engraved portrait of Edward Winman Martin mounted to front pastedown as bookplate.
Text and plates clean and fine, hand-coloring lovely with fine shading. A bit of rubbing to calf edges, nicely rebacked and restored. An excellent copy of this scarce and impressive volume.