11 December 2009,
New York, Rockefeller Center
Price realised USD 21,250
Estimate USD 10,000 - USD 15,000
ADAM, Robert (1728-1792). Ruins of the Palace of the Emperor Diocletian at Spalatro in Dalmatia. [London:] for the author, 1764.
Broadsheets (535 x 370 mm). Engraved frontispiece and 60 engraved plates (14 double-page, some folding) on 54 leaves, by Francesco Bartolozzi, [Francesco, Antonio and Giuseppe] Zucchi, Francis Patton, Paolo Santini, and others (some spotting and some marginal dampstaining). Contemporary calf gilt, gilt edges (rebacked, some wear along edges).
FIRST EDITION OF THIS MAGNIFICENT WORK. Adam's book, with its elaborately engraved views, was the outcome of his visit to Spalatro (Split) during his Grand Tour. It was intended to emulate the success of Robert Wood's The Ruins of Palmyra, published in 1763, and Spalatro seemed perfect for such a project, being the only significant unexplored classical site to hand. In Florence, Adam had met the architect Charles-Louis Clérisseau (1721-1820), who became his instructor for the next two years and supervised much of the engraving for the book in Venice and London. The engravings were probably based on drawings by Clérisseau (six of which are preserved in the Hermitage Museum), and were said by the Critical Review in October 1764 to possess "a taste and execution that has never been equaled in this country." Indeed, when Adam returned to Britain in 1758, "the custom's officer at Harwich had so admired the drawings that he had charged no duty" (Millard, p.5). Berlin Kat. 1893; Brunet I, 46; Cicognara 3567; Millard British, 1.
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