"THE MAGNIFICENCE OR BEAUTY OF THESE EDIFICES": SCARCE FIRST EDITION OF PAPWORTH'S SELECT VIEWS OF LONDON, 1816, WITH 76 SPLENDID HAND-COLORED AQUATINTS, SOME FOLDING
(LONDON) [PAPWORTH, John Buonarotti]. Select Views of London; With Historical and Descriptive Sketches of Some of the Most Interesting of its Public Buildings. London: R. Ackermann, 1816. Tall octavo, 20th-century three-quarter crimson morocco gilt, raised bands, marbled endpapers, top edge gilt. Housed in a custom cloth slipcase.
First edition of Papworth's elegant volume, featuring 76 beautiful hand-colored aquatints (five folding), authored by this preeminent British architect, one of the earliest "magnificent illustrated books" issued by famed publisher Ackermann, with descriptions and plates of Westminster Abbey, Grosvenor Square, the British Museum, Whitehall Chapel, Bank of England, Newgate and Old Bailey, and other major buildings of early 19th-century London. Nicely bound.
Leading British architect Papworth was "a thorough master of drawing perspective and classic ornament; many of his architectural designs were exhibited at the Royal Academy. His professional practice embraced not only the ordinary work of an architect, but also that of a designer of decorations, furniture and accessories" (DNB). Papworth was "writing a regular series of architectural notes for the Repository of Arts illustrated with colored aquatints" when fine art publisher Rudolph Ackermann offered to publish, in one elegant volume, his descriptions of London's exemplary public buildings, sites and private homes. With text by Papworth, the 76 plates in this first edition of Select Views are classified "in two 'Divisions': the first depicting the places of worship, residence and entertainment of fashionable society and the second the temples of the financial and mercantile City. Of particular topographical interest is the set of views of West End Squares… Select Views anticipates the compilation of another architect, James Elmes' Metropolitan Improvements  in its illustration of the work of contemporaries and topically records the ephemeral structures which appeared in the parks to celebrate the Peace of 1814" (Adams 117). This is one of the earliest "magnificent illustrated books" published by Ackermann (Adams, xx), with the plates "wholly aquatinted or line-engraved with aquatinted skies, colored by hand in pale, transparent washes" (Adams 117). First edition in book form: copies found with Papworth on the title page (this copy) or without, no priority determined. "Copies carrying Papworth's name are somewhat scarcer than those without" (Abbey, Scenery 217). Tooley 361. Abbey, Scenery 217. Baronetage of England, 218-9. Early owner inscriptions on front flyleaf.
Short closed tears to Plates 5 and 6, strictly marginal. Offsetting from plates, a very few spots of foxing. Front joint lightly rubbed, binding sound. A handsome, near-fine copy.