WREN, Christopher (1645-1747). Parentalia: or, Memoirs of the family of the Wrens... chiefly of Sir Christopher Wren... Compiled, by his Son Christopher, now published by his Grandson, Stephen Wren, Esq., With the Care of Joseph Ames. London: T. Osborn and R. Dodsley, 1750.
2o (352 x 221 mm). Title-page printed in red and black. Mezzotint frontispiece portrait of Christopher Wren by John Faber, engraved dedication leaf, 3 engraved portraits, 7 plates, 3 illustrations in the text, head- and tail-pieces, extra-illustrated with 2 contemporary engravings (Gnrynn's folding engraved A Plan for Rebuilding London... by that Great Architect Sir Christopher Wren, 1749, and London Before the Fire in 1666) and other near contemporary engraved plates laid down to the verso of some plates, or loosely inserted. (Title-page lightly browned, one or two spots, some marginal pale stains and a few small tears.) Contemporary speckled calf (rebacked to style). Provenance: John Cade (1734-1806), linen draper and antiquary (bookplate); Lancelot Holland (bookplate); Evelyn Philip Shirley (1812-1882) antiquary and genealogist (bookplate); E. N. da C. Andrade FRS (1887-1971) English physicist, writer and poet (bookplate).
FIRST EDITION. One of the earliest biographies of Sir Christopher Wren, England's most famous architect, written by his grandson from the manuscript of his son. Wren designed 53 London churches, including St Paul's Cathedral, after the Great Fire of 1666 and was a founding member of the Royal Society (devoted to the pursuit of scientific research). Parentalia also lists Wren's inventions before 1660: "devices for surveying, musical and acoustical instruments, developments in fishing, underwater construction and submarine navigation, and experiments in printmaking; he experimented with, but did not invent, the mezzotint technique, which Prince Rupert demonstrated to the Royal Society in 1661" (DNB). Harris 949.