16 November 2005
GIBBS, James (1682-1754). Rules for drawing the several Pars of Architecture. MANUSCRIPT ON PAPER, c.1740.
2° (368 x 263mm). 41 pages of text written in brown ink and 64 pages of architectural drawings in ink, some with grey wash. (Marginal paper flaws in a few leaves.) Contemporary mottled calf, spine gilt in compartments (a little worn). Provenance: [Ralph Willett (1719-95)] -- J.W. Willett, Merly House (flyleaf inscription) -- Henry Ralph Willett (bookplate) -- Alan G. Thomas (bookplate).
On its first publication in 1732 Gibbs's work was an instant success, since it provided competent amateurs with a comprehensible method for copying Palladian orders. The present manuscript, which pre-dates the corrected edition of 1753, was presumably prepared for the amateur architect and keen bibliophile Ralph Willett of Merly House, Dorset. Willet started to build Merly House in 1752, probably to his own design; it was completed in 1760. In 1772 a new library wing was added with elaborate plasterwork decoration by 'Athenian' Stuart, which was celebrated in A Description of the Library at Merly (1785). The majority of the library, including printed editions of other Gibbs's works, was sold in 1813 on the death of Willett's nephew, J.W. Willett, but this manuscript remained at Merly until the contents were sold in 1878 (lot 467). Cf. Harris 259-262; Alan G. Thomas 'Portrait of a Bibliophile X', The Book Collector, Winter 1963.
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