WRIGHT[E], William (active 1790-1802)
Grotesque Architecture, or Rural Amusement: consisting of Plans, Elevations, and Sections, for huts, retreats, summer and winter hermitages, terminaries, Chinese, Gothic and natural grottos, cascades, baths, mosques, moresque pavillions, grotesque and rustic seats, green houses, &c. many of which may be executed with flints, irregular stones, rude branches, and roots of trees...A New Edition
London: Printed for I. and J.Taylor, [circa 1790]. 8vo. (9 x 5 5/8 inches). 13, 3pp. (books printed for I. Taylor). Engraved frontispiece, after A. Thornthwaite, engraved by Isaac Taylor, 28 engraved plates.
Period speckled paper boards, flat spine divided into compartments with gilt fillets, lettering piece in the second compartment
Provenance: Biblioth. Soc. Liter. Curon. (inked stamps); Edmond L. Lincoln (booklabel).
A fine catalogue of measured plans for grottoes, hermitages, and exotic garden buildings.
Following the Orientalizing impulse of 18th- and 19th- century England, William Wrighte infused his designs with Indian and Turkish motifs that manifest in the plans as lotus leaf bases, columns terminating in palms, and mosque-like domes. Each plate is accompanied by the author's recommendations and commentaries on the best choice of material, suggested decoration, and ideal uses for the corresponding structures. The work's frontispiece depicts a beautiful landscape featuring Wrighte's designs that was intended to help the prospective client visualize the structures in situ. 'Wrighte was the first to publish such a scene in a book of architectural designs - showing specific designs set into natural surroundings in a consciously artful way' (Archer). Wrighte drew many details of his designs from sites such as the Alhambra and the Mosque-Cathedral at Cordova, citing as his sources Francis Willughby's account to Spain, Simon Ockley's account of South and West Barbary, and Thomas Shaw's account of the Levant. Mixing such elements as "irregular timber," "rough stones rudely put together," and "rude branches" with Palladian classicism, Wrighte's designs make for a fascinating study of how knowledge and perception of foreign lands gained through imperial efforts and explorations influenced long-standing traditions and informed many aspects of British life.
Berlin Katalog, 3420; Colvin (H) British Architects, p.1169; Harris and Savage 953; John Archer, The Literature of British Domestic Architecture 1715-1842, 1985, p. 853; Eleanor von Erdberg, Chinese Influence on European Garden Structures, 1936, p. 209; Schimmelman J.G., Architectural Books in Early America, 147.