RICHARDSON, George (ca.1736-1817?). A Book of Ceilings, composed in the style of the antique grotesque. London: for the author, 1776.
Imperial 2° (527 x 357mm). Title in English and French, engraved dedication to Lord Scarsdale, 2pp. subscriber's list, 1p. 'To the Public', 2pp. preface in English and French, 11pp. explanations of the plates in English and French. 48 hand-coloured etched plates after Richardson, one double-page. Contemporary half calf, covers blocked with the large gilt arms of the Marquess of Bute (scuffed, head of spine chipped, joints split). Provenance: 2nd Marquess of Bute (binding, Luton Library armorial bookplate).
SUBSCRIBER'S COPY OF THE FIRST EDITION. The work was evidently originally issued in parts in three forms: uncoloured, with 'coloured grounds' (as the present copy) and 'coloured and touched up in the Manner of finished Drawings' (Harris pp.388-9, quoting the Public Advertiser, 4 Aug. 1774). Copies of the work 'on imperial paper... in boards' were still available in 1792 when an advertisement appeared in Richardson's New Designs.., the three forms were then priced at 3 guineas, £6/8s, and 48 guineas respectively. Richardson trained under the Adam brothers (John Adam is listed amongst the subscribers), but left about 1773 in the vain hope of setting up his own architectural practice. Ironically, the wide circulation of his various works was probably the single greatest contributing factor to his lack of success as a practising architect. Abbey Life 56; Harris 735.