ADAM, Robert (1728-1792). Ruins of the Palace of the Emperor Diocletian at Spalatro in Dalmatia. [London]: for the author, 1764. 2° (528 x 368mm). 61 numbered engraved plates after C.-L. Clérisseau on 54 leaves, including frontispiece, the majority by F. Bartolozzi and F. Zucchi, 6 folding and 8 double-page. (Some occasional faint marginal soiling, a few plates cropped close to plate mark soemtimes touching captions or plate numbers.) Contemporary catspaw calf (extremities rubbed, joints just starting to crack at head and tail of spine). Provenance: Jane Cathcart, Duchess of Atholl (1754-1790, booklabel detached and loosely inserted).
MAGNIFICENT WORK, containing a summation of 18th-century views on architecture. Most, if not all, the drawings were by Charles-Louis Clérisseau, but Adam refused to allow his collaborator's name to appear on the plates, and had to be dissuaded by his brother, James, from using his own name instead. Much of the engraving work was done in Venice by F. Bartolozzi, F. Zucchi, P. Santini, and D. Cunego, supervised first by Clérisseau and later, James Adam. Only eleven plates, those by Mazell, Patton, Rooker, Walker and Basire, were produced in England under Robert's eye. Though lavishly praised, his book drew a perceptive comment from Edward Gibbon in The Decline and Fall (ch. 12): 'There is reason to suspect that the elegance of his designs and engravings has somewhat flattered the objects which it was their purpose to represent'. Fine examples of architectural drawing in themselves, the plates are also important as a source for motifs used in the Adam style. Fowler 2; Harrison pp. 76-81; Millard II, 1; RIBA 27.