James Stuart (1713-1788) and Nicholas Revett (1720-1804).
The Antiquities of Athens. Volume II edited by William Newton, volume III by William Reveley, volume IV by Joseph Woods. London: John Haberkorn 1762-1830.
5 volumes, (525x360mm). 4 engraved portraits of Stuart and Revett, 368 etched and engraved plates, plans and maps by J Basire, C. Grignion, J. Newton, W.Skelton and others after Stuart, Revett, W.Pars, W.Reveley and others, numbered according to chapters, including a hand-coloured folding map of Greece in Volume II by W.Faden after de la Rochette, several other plates and maps double page or folding, etched title vignettes, head- and tailpieces. A few engraved illustrations. (Volume I without the subscribers list, occasional spotting.) Contemporary diced russia, covers ruled in gilt and blind, spines gilt in compartments, gilt edges (rubbed and worn, covers loose.)
First edition. Stuart and Revett's is the earliest accurate survey of the Classical buildings of Athens. Eileen Harris notes that some copies of volume I were printed without the list of subscribers. Although numbered from 1 to 73, Plate 29 in volume II was not published, so while nonetheless intact, volume II contains only 72 plates. Basire engraved 42 of the plates in volume I and was responsible for most of the head- and tail pieces. When the project was initially conceived it was to be a 3-volume work which would contain 191 plates, engraved by Revett and Stuart, and estimated to take only four years to produce. It did not take Stuart and Revett long after their arrival at Athens on 18th March 1751 to recognise that their original plans needed recasting. The production of the first volume was beset by many difficulties, including the unfortunate location of a Turkish garrison on the southern ridge of the Acropolis, political disturbances which made there work difficult and dangerous, as well as as an outbreak of plague, that hindered there return to Greece (not to mention the fact that in the summer of 1753 Stuart was 'provoked' to knock down the British consul, a Greek who was his landlord, causing a minor diplomatic crises.) Dilatory by nature, Stuart was also distracted by his rivalry with Le Roy, and when he died on 2 February 1788, volume II was unfinished, even though a title-page dated 1787 had been printed.
Thanks to the continued support of the Society of the Dilettanti, volume III appeared in 1794, bringing to completion in nearly 50 years a project that was originally intended to make both artists a rapid fortune. The work was however, a great success, achieving international fame for its Grecian taste, its accuracy and exactness. Stuart was responsible for the measured drawings and Revett for the topographical views. It proved to be an influential architectural work anticipating the Grecian Revival style in England in the early 19th Century. "Athenian" Stuart was one of the first notable English architects to carry out neoclassical designs for gardens buildings and interiors. The work he executed in England was greatly indebted to the Greek architecture illustrated in this book, particularly Volume III with its depictions of Doric monuments. Volume IV, a commercial venture by Josiah Taylor who had acquired all of Stuart's papers after his death, was made popular by the large number of plates of the Parthenon sculptures, sold to the nation in 1816, the year of publication. Volume V was a further supplement issued in 1830. Harris 857; Millar, British, 81; Fowler 340. (5)