LAFEVER, Minard (1798-1854)
The Architectural Instructor: containing a history of architecture from the earliest ages to the present time. Illustrated with nearly 250 engravings of ancient, mediaeval, and modern cities, temples, palaces, cathedrals, and monuments; also, the Greek and early Roman classic orders, their principles and beauties; with a large number of original designs of cottages, villas, and mansions, of different sizes, accompanied with practical observations on construction […] together with a glossary of architectural terms
New York: G.P. Putnam & Co., 1856. Quarto. (12 x 8 3/4 inches). 526 pp.; 111 lithographic plates, about half of which are duotone, and some printed in colors.
Quarter modern morocco over contemporary cloth, top edge gilt.
First edition, posthumously printed, of this influential manual by an esteemed Greek Revival architect - "the last of the best of the architectural vade mecums."
Lafever was an influential Greek Revival architect, writing three books on Greek designs and details. This work, combines a history of architecture with a survey of a wide range of ancient and modern styles, all written in a style suited for Lafever's general readership of 19th-century Americans. As such the present work continues his goal established in earlier books, such as Beauties of Modern Architecture (1839), of reaching those who he termed the "everyday workman." illustrated with nearly 250 engravings. One historian calls The Architectural Instructor "the last of the best of the architectural vade mecums" from the tradition begun by Asher Benjamin (Holland p.71). "Lafever was to earn a great fame in Brooklyn later with a series of superb Gothic Revival churches, of which Holy Trinity (1844-7) is the largest and most famous, the Church of the Saviour nearby (1844) the most refined and exquisite. Packer Collegiate Institute with its rather prim, simple English Gothic is his, too, as are the stone tunnel and steps at the river end of Montague Street - a monument of true Greek simplicity. The Reformed Church of the Heights (1851) and the Old Brooklyn Savings Bank (1847), both recently destroyed, showed his brilliant use of the later eclectic forms that began to come in the forties; much of this work he included in his last great book, The Architectural Instructor" (Hamlin p.147) The present work, profusely illustrated, replicates ancient and modern buildings, including temples, churches, villas, monuments, and municipal halls. The main text is followed by a "Glossary of Architectural Terms." Plates 1-21 illustrate the history of architecture, 22-29 the classical orders, and plates 30-111 original designs (mostly for buildings which were built), the majority beautifully printed in tints or colors.
Talbot Hamlin, Greek Revival Architecture in America (1944); Lawrence B. Holland, Who Designs America? (1966).