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Recognized internationally as a great architectural genius, Robert Adam (3 July 1728 – 3 March 1792), developed comprehensive building, interior, and furniture designs in a completely new way. His light, elegant style was a personal reconstitution of Palladian, Renaissance, and classical antiquity elements. The “Adam Style” became broadly popular and has never disappeared, dominating the colonial Federal period in American architecture.
Robert Adam died suddenly at his home at the age of 64. He is buried in Westminster Abbey. He left nearly 9,000 drawings, most of which are now at the Soane Museum in London. His work had influenced the direction of architecture across the western world.
Presented here are copper plate engravings from the Robert and James Adam publication Works in Architecture. It was the most important architectural book of the 18th century.
Some of the finest engravers available were hired to produce the plates. Elevations, plans, interiors, furniture, fireplaces and more are rendered in the finest detail. Seats of the aristocracy such as those of the Duke of Northumberland, the Earl of Mansfield and the Earl of Bute are represented, as well as designs for the King and Queen and for public buildings. Works in architecture was crucial in making the neo-classical style popular.
Boulencourt, Le Jeune de
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These two beautiful hand colored copper plate engravings originally published in 1683 were taken from the lavish publication Déscription générale de l'hostel royal des invalides établi par Louis le Grand , by Le Jeune de Boulencourt, which described and illustrated the Hôtel des Invalides in Paris, one of the grandest of the great building projects of Louis XIV, second only to the Palace at Versailles. Construction began in 1671 and the first residents were installed in 1674. The hospital was originally designed for 2000 residents, rising to 3000 in 1710.
Orphaned at an early age, John Britton (1771-1857) arrived in London in 1787 as a sickly sixteen year old. Nearly penniless, he took odd jobs, first as a cellarman at a tavern and as a clerk to a lawyer. He also sang and recited at a small theatre, and compiled a collection of common songs. His fate turned when a Salisbury publisher commissioned him to compile an account of this history of the region of Wiltshire, and his first topographical publication became a success. Subsequently, Britton was able to publish his first in a long progression of architectural publications including The History and Antiquities of the Cathedrals of England in 1814, from which these copper plate engravings were taken.
Inspired by the famous Italian Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio, the Scottish architect Colin Campbell assembled his publication Vitruvius Britannicus or The British Architect, containing the Plans, Elevations, and Sections of the Regular Buildings, both Publick and Private, in Great Britain
to illustrate designs that introduced this important style of architecture to England. The copper plate engravings were published between 1715 and 1725 and included designs created by the author as well as by Palladio, Sir John Vanbrugh, and the renowned Inigo Jones. The 18th century publication influenced the course of architecture in England by helping to initiate the Neo-Palladian movement there.
Dallas artist Jay Cantrell.
Born in Nuremberg, Paul Decker (1677-1713) worked as an architecural apprentice during the building of the Schloss in Berlin. Decker was a noted architectural theorist with a strong imagination which produced some classic and grand Baroque designs which were published in his Furstlicher Baumeister, (Princely Architect 1711-16), from which these hand colored copper plate engravings were taken. This publication had a strong influence on the building of German aristocratic residences in the mid-eighteenth century.
Jean Louis Charles Garnier (1825-1898) was a French architect, born on Nov. 6, 1825, in Paris. He became the apprentice of the French architect Louis Hippolyte Lebas and learned neoclassical style design. He was a full time student at École des Beaux-Arts in 1841. Garnier spent 5 years in Italy after winning the Grand Prix de Rome in 1848 at the age of 23. He later traveled through Greece and found architectural influence among the ruins there.
Garnier entered the competition for the Académie Nationale de Musique, better known as the Opéra, in Paris in 1861. He won fifth prize in the first stage of a two-phase competition and later that year won the commission selected from over 171 entries. The Opéra was built from 1862 to 1867; the interiors were not completed until 1874.
The folio Le Nouvel Opera de Paris was published in 1878 to honor Garnier's grand design. Presented here are exquisite chromolithograph prints detailing the interiors of the Paris Opera House.
Versailles ceiling details from La Grande Galerie de
Versailles et Les Deus Salons…by Charles Le Brun,
(1619-1690). Hand-colored copper engraving, Paris, 1752
David Loggan was born in Danzig in 1635 then came to England in 1653 and sought work as an engraver, draughtsman and painter. He produced the first illustrated book on the great University at Oxford which became one of the major architectural works of the 17th century. By 1669 he was appointed engraver to the University. His Oxonia Illustrata was published in 1675 followed by Cantabrigia illustrata in 1690.
Dated 1852, these atelier drawings signed by F.W. Ludwig are of various furniture, staircase, and column designs. They are all original drawings executed with pen and ink with wash.
These large prints were taken from the 1670 French publication Courses de Testes et de Bague Faittes Par Le Roy et par Les Princes et Seigneurs de sa Cour En l'Année 1662, a documentation of one of the most celebrated of the spectacular festivals held at Versailles by the young King of France, Louis XIV. The tournament took place June 5-7, 1662 in front of the Tuileries, in a vast amphitheatre known as 'place du Carrousel'. Romans, Persians, Turks, Indians, and native Americans, all in constume, participated in the event which included games of skill. The magnificent hand colored copper plate engravings by Israel Silvestre and François Chauveau depict the grand festivities. The descriptive text was written by Charles Perrault, who was secretary, assistant and advisor in matters relating to the arts and sciences (1663), controller-general of the department of public works, member of the commission that later developed into the Académie des Inscriptions, and member of the Académie française.
Giovanni Battista Piranesi was born in Mestre/Venice in 1720 and died in Rome in 1778. He was the most influential etcher
of the 18th century and produced more than 1,000 etchings and engravings. Piranesi was the major artist in this medium between the times
of Rembrandt and Goya as well as a trained architect, archaeologist, master designer and engraver. Piranesi's prints and drawings
reveal his talent for combining dramatic perspectives and architectural fantasies.
During his early years, he studied stage design and intricate systems of perspective composition. His uncle, a designer
and hydraulics engineer, taught him the art of drawing. When Piranesi was twenty he moved to Rome. For almost a year he
was an apprentice in the studio of Guiseppe Vasi, his later colleague and rival, where he learned the art of engraving
copper plates. He also studied painting with Tiepolo and Pannini. He began a careful study of the city's ancient monuments and
proceeded to etch inventive views of them as well as the modern Roman structures, images that brought him great popularity.
His masterful art and good business sense proved fruitful, for during the 18th century traveling became popular among
the educated classes of Europe. Travelers to city of Rome discovered ancient treasures as well as Piranesi's renderings
of them in print. Their sheer size was impressive as they were at least twice the size of his competitors’. The
tourists therefore liked to buy his prints as a reminder of their journey.
Later he began a series of etchings of fantastic prison interiors. These imaginary prisons held a hypnotic fascination for later
Romantic writers, such as Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Edgar Allen Poe. The Imaginary Prisons (Carceri) have always
been highly prized images.
In his next period, he created more than 200 views of Rome,culminating in the magisterial Veduta di Roma, now
a collector's desire and increasingly rare. He then turned his attention to archaeological works, including Le Antichità
Romane with similar works on Lake Albano, Cora and Pesto. These were followed by his theoretical and polemical works,
including Della Magnificenza ed Architettura de Romani. In his final prolific stage, he etched almost 200 decorative
antiquities, including his celebrated works on Cammini (chimneypieces) and the Vasi, Candelabri.
He enjoyed tremendous success throughout his life, leaving a legacy as one of the greatest etchers and printmakers in
history. After Piranesi's death at the age of 58, his son Francesco took the plates to Paris and continued publishing
his father's work between the years 1800 and 1807.
Miscellaneous antiquarian architectural prints. All presented here are copper plate engravings.