Skip to main content
Vitruvius Britannicus, or The British Architect. Containing the plans, elevations and sections of the regular buildings, both publick and private, in Great Britain. Colen CAMPBELL.
Vitruvius Britannicus, or The British Architect. Containing the plans, elevations and sections of the regular buildings, both publick and private, in Great Britain
Vitruvius Britannicus, or The British Architect. Containing the plans, elevations and sections of the regular buildings, both publick and private, in Great Britain

Vitruvius Britannicus, or The British Architect. Containing the plans, elevations and sections of the regular buildings, both publick and private, in Great Britain

London: [c.1731]-[c.1731]-1725-1767-1771. Five volumes, folio. (19 5/8 x 14 1/2 inches). Four engraved titles in English and French (letterpress title in red and black in English and French in vol.III, as issued), 3 engraved dedications, 368 engraved plates (i.e. 498 numbered plates including engraved titles and dedications). Detailed collation by volume below.

Expertly bound to style in half period russia and marbled paper covered boards, spines with raised bands in seven compartments, red and green morocco labels in the second and third, the others with a repeat decoration in gilt.

The first major architectural pattern book on exclusively British architecture.

This work was ground-breaking in its combination of two aims: firstly, it set out to be a detailed record of the buildings alone, where previous works had shown the buildings as part of a topographical view, and secondly, it included only British architecture. Campbell, a skilled architectural draughtsman, was appointed author of the work by the group of booksellers who had conceived the work, shortly before the publication of vol.I. The few plates that are signed in vol.I are from drawings by Campbell, and vols.II-III have plates by Henry Hulsbergh after Campbell. The later volumes (vols.IV-V published in 1767-1771) include plates after Gandon, Woolfe and William Chambers. Given the lengthy publication history, it is most unusual to find the work complete with all five volumes. The present set includes the undated issues of vols. 1-2 (with a circa 1731 date ascribed as per Millard, but others have ascribed dating as 1722-25 [see Connor]), and first editions of vols. 3 to 5. The collations of each volume are as follows (with double-page plates numbered as two plates and folding plates numbered as four, as issued): [Vol. I]: Engraved title, engraved dedication and 84 engraved plates [Numbered 3-100, including 14 double-page; title and dedication counted as the first two plates]. Without the letterpress introduction, explanatory text or subscriber leaves (as issued in the undated edition?, see ESTC 469352). [Vol. II]: Engraved title and 57 engraved plates [Numbered 2-100, including 21 double-page; title counted as the first plate]. Without the letterpress explanatory text leaves. [Vol. III]: 12pp. (i.e. letterpress title, letterpress dedication, letterpress list of subscribers and 6pp. explanation of the plates in English), and 73 engraved plates [Numbered 3-100 including 22 double-page and 1 folding; letterpress title and dedication counted as first two plates even though they are letterpress]. Without the plate of Umberslade, as issued (ie. found in only later editions). [Vol. IV]: Engraved title, engraved dedication, 12pp. letterpress text in English and French (i.e. 2pp. Introduction, 8pp. Explanation and 2pp. List of Subscribers), and 79 engraved plates [Numbered 1-98, including 19 double-page; title and dedication not included in plate numbering] [Vol. V]: Engraved title, engraved dedication, 10pp. letterpress text (2pp. List of Subscribers, 8pp. Explanation in English and French) and 75 plates [Numbered 3-100, including 23 double-page; title and dedication numbered as first two plates] An indispensable work for the study of 17th and 18th-century architecture in England.

Adam 24 & 45; Berlin Kat. 2329; Cicognara 4115; ESTC T050965, T149865, T050967, T060851; Fowler 76; Harris 98 & 945; Millard British 10 & 94; T.P. Connor The making of Vitruvius Britannicus, Architectural History, 20 (1977) p.17.

Item #36300

Price: $38,000.00

See all items by