"HIS ITALIAN PICTURES… ARE CONSIDERED SMITH'S BEST": SMITH'S 1792-96 VIEWS OF ITALY, WITH 72 ENGRAVED VIEWS, IN FINE CONTEMPORARY MOROCCO
(ITALY) SMITH, John. Select Views in Italy, with Topographical and Historical Descriptions in English and French. London: T. Chapman, 1792-96. Two volumes bound in one. Folio (11 by 14-1/2 inches), contemporary full red straight-grain morocco gilt, raised bands, all edges gilt. $6800.
First edition, profusely illustrated with engraved map of Italy and 72 beautiful engraved folio plates, splendidly bound in full contemporary morocco.
Views include natural landscapes and "magnificent remains of antiquity," after sketches by John Smith and others. With topographical descriptions in English and French. Smith earned recognition as a topographical draughtsman and watercolorist; "the novelty and beauty of his work created much admiration" (DNB). "While staying in Derbyshire in 1775 Smith was introduced to George Greville, second earl of Warwick, an avid collector of art for Warwick Castle. Admiring some views of Matlock drawn by Smith, Warwick agreed to send him to Italy, where he met the artists William Pars, Thomas Jones, and Francis Towne. Although Smith had the highest contemporary reputation it is probable that all four encouraged and influenced one another's work; together they brought a new vividness to some of the finest drawings of the late 18th century with pictures such as Smith's Outside Porta Pia, Rome (1777-80, Tate collection) and Interior of the Coliseum (British Museum). His Italian pictures, which he continued to produce for many years after his return to England, are considered Smith's best. Between 1792 and 1799 he published Select Views in Italy" (ODNB). Topographical descriptions in English and French. With engraved dedication page; list of plates at rear. Map dated 1799. Cox I, 162. Lowndes, 2425. ESTC T147454. Engraved armorial bookplate.
Some foxing to a few plates, chiefly marginal. A desirable copy in fine contemporary morocco.