[DEZALLIER D'ARGENVILLE, Antoine Joseph (1680-1765)] -- John JAMES (d.1746, translator)
The Theory and Practice of Gardening: wherein is fully handled all that relates to fine gardens commonly called pleasure-gardens, as parterres, groves, bowling-greens, &c. ... Done from the French original ... By John James
London: printed by Geo. James, and sold by Maurice Atkins, 1712. Quarto. (10 x 7 3/4 inches). , 218, pp. Title in red and black, royal license leaf facing the title, 4pp. list of subscribers. 32 folding engraved plates by Michael van der Gucht, 16 woodcut illustrations.
Contemporary speckled calf, expertly rebacked to style
Provenance: armorial bookplate
The first edition in English of this important work, described by Henrey as the "first important book on garden design to appear in England in the eighteenth century" and by a contemporary critic as the best work on gardening "that has appeared in this or any other language."
"The first important book on garden design to appear in England in the eighteenth century is The theory and practice of gardening , a translation of the French La théorie et la pratique du jardinage ... it is especially valuable as a record of the manner of gardening as practised by [André] Le Notre. The original French work appeared anonymously in Paris in 1709, and in the opinion of [M.L.] Gothein: 'Never before did a book lay down the principles of any style so surely and so intelligibly in instructive precepts' ... The translator [of the present English version] was the noted London architect John James (d. 1746) ... he tells us that he endeavoured to make his translation 'as plain and intelligible, as possible', and he certainly succeeded in this ... [The present work] deals fully with the design and formation of fine gardens ... and with the making of parterres, mazes, garden buildings, and ornaments of every kind. It also deals with the making of fountains, basins, and cascades ... [It includes a description] for the first time in England [of] the use of a fosse or deep ditch as an invisible division between the garden and the landscape beyond, a device now known as a 'ha-ha' and especially associated with the English landscape school" (Blanche Henrey, British Botanical and Horticultural Literature before 1800 , II, p490-495).
Bradley Bibliography III, p.112 (under 'Le Blond'); Harvard, Catalogue of the Library of the Arnold Arboretum p.416 (under 'Le Blond'); cf. Hunt II, 421 (French edition) and 471 (1728 English edition); Henrey III, 1426; Nissen BBI 1136.