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Plans, Elevations, Sections, and Details of the Alhambra

London: Owen Jones, 1842-1845. 2 volumes, folio. (26 1/4 x 19 1/2 inches). Chromolithographic titles and 102 lithographic plates [51 in each volume], of which 70 are chromolithographs and a number heightened in gold.

Contemporary dark-green half morocco, marbled boards, panelled spines decorated in gilt, gilt contrasting lettering-pieces.

Provenance: Frederick du Cane Godman (bookplate)

Large paper copy of the first edition of this highly-detailed and beautifully-produced work.

According to Abbey this work was first published in two forms: small paper for £18.16s (as the Abbey copy) or £31.10s for the large paper issue (as here). Abbey does not mention if there were any other differences in the make-up of the two issues, but the plates on India paper found here (which are not in the Abbey copy) are only found in the large paper issue. The lithographs, printed in colours, are highly important in their own right as early experimental examples of the chromolithographic process that was to come to dominate colour lithography for most of the second half of the nineteenth century. These images, combined with the excellent text, form an important historical record of the Alhambra is it stood early in the 19th century: at least twenty years before the first detailed photographic records were made. Owen Jones was the son of a prosperous Welsh furrier. In 1833, Jones, who had been articled to Lewis Vuillamy from 1825-1831, made a tour of the Middle East (including Constantinople and Cairo) painting watercolour landscapes: this sparked his fascination with Islamic buildings. In the following year he made a tour of Spain accompanied by the young French architect Jules Goury, visiting Granada, and the Alhambra in particular. Both were fascinated by the Moorish Palace and they planned to study it in detail. At that time, it was possible for suitable visitors to rent a suite of rooms within the palace itself: Washington Irving had been inspired to write his Tales of the Alhambra whilst staying there in 1829 and following in his footsteps, Jones and Goury stayed at the palace whilst making detailed drawings of the architectural and coloured decorations of the building. Tragically, Goury contracted cholera during his stay, and died on the 28th August, 1834. Owen Jones returned to England with both his and Goury's sketches. He also brought back an enormous number of casts that he and Goury had made of the ornaments and mouldings. A note at the beginning of the present work explains that "to insure perfect accuracy, an impression of every ornament throughout the palace was taken, either with plaster or with unsized paper." Jones returned to the Alhambra again in 1837 to complete the recording and measuring of a number of aspects of the palace that had remained unfinished at the time of Goury's sudden death. "On his return with his drawings ... Jones apparently had difficulty in finding any printer to undertake the unfamiliar and difficult work of color printing [especially the need for the flat, opaque and accurate colour schemes to reproduce the decorative motifs] ... With the promise of some help from Day & Haghe, Jones therefore set up an establishment ... [in London] ... training his own workmen and providing his own presses ... Jones's approach to colour-printing was that of the precise architect with an eye for abstract design and the harmony of colours ... Here Jones is a forerunner of Morris, the Pre-Raphaelites, and Art Nouveau [including Christopher Dresser]" (Abbey). His subsequent career was not limited to the theoretical. He designed the internal decoration of the Vulliamy and Roumieu church, All Saints, Ennismore Gardens (c.1850), which is now the Russian Orthodox Cathedral in London. In 1851, Jones was appointed Superintendent of the works for the Great Exhibition, and in 1854 he designed the Egyptian, Greek, Roman and Alhambra Courts when the Crystal Palace was moved to Sydenham. In 1856 he published, with Sir Matthew Digby Wyatt, the celebrated and monumental Grammar of Ornament, creating a nucleus of ornamental ideas that still has resonance today.

Cf. Abbey Travel I. 156 (small format); Burch pp.183-185; Courtney-Lewis pp.139-140; Martin Hardie pp. 243, 250, 252-253; Brunet III, 564.

Item #37448

Price: $18,000.00