London: R. Blamire, 1792 (An Essay on Prints); 1794 (Three Essays). Fourth edition; Second edition. Hardcover. Quarto. XIII, , XI, , 174, , VIII, 143, , III, pp. Uncut. Early 19th-century black morocco over marbled paper covered boards with gold lettering and ruling on spine. Originally published in 1768 and 1792, Gilpin's popular "Essay on Prints" and "Three Essays" define the picturesque as '"that kind of beauty which is agreeable in a picture" and expounds the "principles of picturesque beauty", based largely on the author's knowledge of landscape painting. "Three Essays" is complete with its 7 tissue-guarded plates (including 6 aquatints). Some rubbing along edges of binding. Previous owner's Ex-libris (M. Rangemore) on inside of front cover. Minor age-toning and sporadic light foxing throughout. Binding in overall good-, interior in good+ to very good condition. g+. Item #38615
About the author: William Gilpin (1724-1804) was an English artist, Anglican cleric, schoolmaster and author, best known as one of the originators of the idea of the picturesque. Although Gilpin sometimes commented on designed landscapes, for him the picturesque was always essentially just a set of rules for depicting nature. It was left to others, most notably Richard Payne Knight, Uvedale Price and Thomas Johnes, to develop Gilpin's ideas into more comprehensive theories of the picturesque and apply these more generally to landscape design and architecture. Ultimately, these grand theories of wild natural beauty gave way to the tamer and more commercialised picturesque of the mid 19th century. But Gilpin's works remained popular and several new editions, with additions by John Heaviside Clark, were brought out. Gilpin also lives on as the model for the satirist William Combe's clever but cruel "Tour of Dr Syntax in Search of the Picturesque" (1809), brilliantly illustrated by Thomas Rowlandson. This poor curate sets off on his straggly mare Grizzle in a quest for picturesque scenery, often (and usually to his discomfort) oblivious to the realities of the world around him. As well as his picturesque writing, Gilpin published numerous works on moral and religious subjects, including biographies of Hugh Latimer, Thomas Cranmer and John Wicliff. A proportion of the profit from his writing went on good works in his parish, including the endowment of the school at Boldre which now bears his name. Many of the manuscripts of his tours, including unpublished or only recently published material, are now housed in the Bodleian Library, Oxford. Gilpin is one of eight travellers included in Nicholas Crane's "Great British Journeys."