CAMPBELL, Colen (fl. 1715-29), and others. Vitruvius Britannicus, or The British Architect, Containing The Plans, Elevations, and Sections of the Regular Buildings both Publick and Private in Great Britain, With Variety of New Designs, London: Sold by the Author, 1715-17-25-67-71. 5 volumes, 2° (486 x 348mm). 4 engraved titles (title in vol. III printed in red and black) in English and French, 2 engraved dedication leaves, 386 engraved plates and plans, many double-page, some folding, English and French parallel text in vol. IV (some mainly marginal waterstaining, occasionally heavy, more pronounced in vol. one, a few plates browned mainly in vol. II). Contemporary mottled calf, spine with red morocco lettering-pieces (upper cover of vol. IV detached, joints splitting, extremities rubbed, corners worn, some lettering-pieces lacking). Provenance: crowned armorial bookplate with motto "A ma Puissance." FIRST EDITION. Archer 33.4; Berlin Kat. 2329; Fowler 76; Harris 131; Lowndes I, 361.
"... Vitruvius Britannicus was important and unique in two respects: it was the first British book to illustrate a series of the author's own executed designs, and - of special importance - Campbell composed the letterpress and arranged the plates to encourage the redirection and reform of British architectural taste. Campbell's remarks on architectural taste, which are mostly confined to the Introduction, are too brief, ambiguous, and self-contradictory to constitute a complete and comprehensive theoretical programme. Nevertheless his two principal points are clear: that British architecture since Inigo Jones was superior to the work of contemporary Continental architects, and that British architecture should henceforth reject "Modern" practices in favor of "Ancient" principles" (Archer). (5)