REPTON, Humphry (1752-1818)
Observations on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening. Including some remarks on Grecian and Gothic Architecture, collected from various manuscripts, in the possession of the different Noblemen and Gentlemen
London: J. Taylor, 1803. Quarto. (to be measured). Stipple engraved portrait of the author by W. Holl after S. Shelley, 27 engraved or aquatint plates (including 12 hand-coloured, 3 tinted, 12 uncoloured; 12 with overslips, 1 folding, 1 double-page), numerous engraved, wood-engraved or aquatint vignettes and illustrations, 2 with overslips. (Small neat repairs to folding plate).
Full, straight grain, red morrocco, spine in six compartments with raised bands with black and green morocco labels. Boards and spine elaborately gilt with tools related to the book's themes of landscaping and gardening. Inner denttelles.
First edition in a magnificent red morocco binding of the classic work on landscape gardening in which Repton lays out and illustrates what he considered to be the fixed principles which should be adhered to in any large-scale landscape improvement.
Humphry Repton was the main successor to Lancelot 'Capability' Brown as an improver of grounds for the English gentry in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. He was particularly noted for his 'Red Books' so named by Repton for their distinctive red leather bindings he favoured. These were produced for each individual client and were made up from a manuscript description of his proposed improvements bound with Repton's own watercolour drawings of the grounds, with his proposed alterations displayed on an overlay. Repton's landscapes displayed his preference for a gradual transition between house and grounds by means of terraces, balustrades and steps. Textually this is one of Repton's most valuable works, for two main reasons: it contains long quotations from some very important Red Books which are now lost (those for Corsham, Bulstrode, Shardeloes, and West Wycombe), and it also contains Repton's major contribution to the evaluation of 'Capability' Brown. Although critical of some minor details the general tone of these passages is full of praise for the memory of the great gardener, and an able defense against the criticisms voiced by the theoreticians, Payne Knight and Uvedale Price. This volume's binding celebrates the author's carefully compiled prospectuses for which he is known. Decorated with tools of vines, well-pruned trees, gardening motifs, and fanning scalloped elements borrowed from architecture, this extraordinary binding serves as a dynamic display of the advice and philosophy within.
Abbey Scenery 390; Tooley 399; Henret I, p. 546; Prideaux, p. 349; Hardie, p. 128.