[ALEXANDER, William (1767-1816)]
Picturesque Representations of the Dress and Manner of the English. Illustrated in fifty coloured engravings, with descriptions
London: printed for John Murray by W. Bulmer & Co, 1814 [but plates watermarked 1819]. Quarto. (9 3/8 x 6 3/8 inches). 50 hand-coloured aquatint plates by William Alexander.
Expertly bound to style in half black straight-grained morocco over marbled paper-covered boards, the flat spine divided into six compartments by double gilt fillets, lettered in gilt in the second compartment
Provenance: E. Burgoyne (early signature)
A fine copy of this fascinating work.
This extraordinary work covers a huge range of social types from 'The Sovereign' to a chimney sweep, a judge to the licensed man that watered and fed the horses pulling the hackney carriages. The images and related text on the lower classes in general and the street vendors in particular are probably the most interesting. They picture and describe people who do not appear in conventional histories of the period, and offer a window into real life on the streets at the beginning of the 19th century. Colas notes that the plates are engraved from earlier images by William Henry Pyne, presumably those published in his The Costume of Great Britain (London: 1804, 60 plates). Pyne's work was evidently a major source for this work, as a comparison of the titles to the plates shows, but there are also a significant number of military subjects that are not in Pyne's work, suggesting a variety of sources. The plates have been executed with a refreshing liveliness and freedom that is not usually seen in books of this type, but which is typical of William Alexander's etched and engraved work.
Colas II, 2357; Lipperheide Gca 21; Tooley 374.