An Essay Upon Prints. William Gilpin.
An Essay Upon Prints
An Essay Upon Prints

An Essay Upon Prints

London: G. Scott for J. Robson, 1768. Second Edition. Hardcover. AN ESSAY UPON PRINTS. WILLIAM GILPIN. Published by: London: printed by G. Scott for J. Robson bookseller to the Princess Dowager of Wales at the Feathers in New Bond Street. 1768. Second edition. 8vo, pp246. A very good copy; recently rebound to style in quarter cloth, with genuine marble paper boards and paper label. Second edition: first published earlier the same year. 'Containing remarks upon the principles of picturesque beauty; the different kinds of prints; and the characters of the most noted masters: illustrated by criticisms on particular pieces: to which are added, some cautions that may be useful in collecting prints'. Gilpin was on hand to set standards, and to give definitions: there are four pages of 'Explanation of Terms' before the main text, including this of the word 'picturesque': "a term expressive of the peculiar kind of beauty, which is agreeable in a picture". Gilpin was not the first writer to use the word Picturesque (the OED quotes Richard Steele from 1705 and Udal ap Rhys from 1749), and perhaps not even the first to apply it to living landscapes. However, he certainly popularised it, and after this book (and for the rest of his long life), the word attached itself to his name. This second edition contains a new preface, and besides the text is substantially revised: a quick comparison shows that, as instances, the paragraph which straddles pp. 2-3 of this edition has been added; and in the final chapter ('Cautions in collecting prints') Perhaps Gilpin's most important early publication, setting out aesthetic standards for collecting, practical advice about the kinds of prints one could expect to encounter, and the characteristics of the great masters of the genre. The later 18th century was a golden age in British collecting: richer collectors, rising educational standards, greater leisure and a spread of wealth meant that quite ordinary middle-class families could afford at least to collect mass-produced objects like prints, which offered a wide spectrum of quality: from cheap print-shop book illustrations, to expensive mezzotints. Very good. Item #109

Price (USD): $220.00

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