ATKYNS, Sir Robert (1647-1711). The Ancient and Present State of Glostershire. London: W. Bowyer for Robert Gosling at the Mitre, near the Inner-Temple Gate, in Fleetstreet, 1712.
Folio (15 6/8 x 10 2/8 inches). Engraved portrait of Atkyns by M. vander Gucht, a double-page engraved map of Gloucestershire, 64 double-page views by Johannes Kip, 8 plates of coats-of-arms (a bit browned). 19th-century pigskin, gilt, with the supra libros of the Barons Sherborne on the front cover, all edges gilt.
Provenance: With the bookplate of the Sherborne house library on the front paste-down; their sale Christie's New York, 19 July 1972, lot 11; from the library of Hugh Fattorini, his sale Sotheby's 30th April, 2015, lot 97
First edition, and a handsome copy. "Overshadowed by his father, who as chief baron of the exchequer was speaker of the House of Lords between 1689 and 1693, and with whom he had political disagreements, Atkyns refused to take the oath of allegiance to William III and chose to retire to Pinbury Park, where he had the opportunity to explore his topographical interests. The first of the three major Gloucestershire antiquaries—the other two being Ralph Bigland (1712–1784) and Samuel Rudder (1726–1801)—Atkyns collected material for parish histories, incorporating manuscripts on church history passed to him by Richard Parsons (1643–1711), chancellor of Gloucester diocese between 1677 and 1711. He compiled comprehensive manorial descents and attempted to record the population of each parish, based on the numbers of houses therein and the yearly birth and burial numbers. The resulting first folio county history of Gloucestershire, his Ancient and Present State of Glostershire (1712), which eulogizes the Stuarts, is especially valuable for its series of sixty-four engravings by Johannes Kip, illustrating the county seats and manor houses in the first decade of the eighteenth century, and preserving a record of features now altered or entirely lost" (Robert J. Haines for DNB).
The artist of the spectacular plates that fill the book was the Dutch born John Kip. The majority of Kip's work "consists of topography, which has been called ‘the most dynamic area of publishing … in the first quarter of the century’ (Clayton, The English Print, 75). It was possibly for William's court that he began to develop and produce the bird's-eye prospect views of country houses on which his reputation rests. The first view was of the Chelsea Hospital—in which William had quickly taken a personal interest on becoming king—which Kip drew and engraved in 1690. About 1698 he began producing drawings and plates for his best-known work, Britannia illustrata, or, Views of several of the queen's palaces, as also of the principal seats of the nobility and gentry of Great Britain, a collection of high-quality engraved bird's-eye prospects sold on single sheets from about 1700 and issued together in 1707. For the first volume of this work, which achieved ‘immediate success’ (Harris, 140), Kip engraved the views drawn by Leonard Knyff, but for the second volume he drew and engraved the views himself. He probably sold out his interests in the work before or shortly after its publication, and it was expanded by booksellers with contributions from other artists from 1709. Kip also drew and engraved the sixty-five plates for Robert Atkyn's The Ancient and Present State of Gloucestershire (1712) and engraved Thomas Bladeslade's drawings for John Harris's The History of Kent (1719).
During his career in Britain Kip produced engraved portraits, frontispieces, and architectural miscellany, and for an unknown period lived in and sold prints from his house on St John's Street, Westminster. His contemporary reputation as a fashionable engraver probably peaked in 1708 with the appearance of Britannia illustrata, but he found himself superseded by the engraver Henry Hulsburgh, who introduced a more up-to-date architectural survey into the expanded work of 1715. Kip retained a persuasive reputation as a draughtsman and engraver. He published a 12-sheet view of St James's Park from Buckingham House in 1710, and was chosen by Godfrey Kneller to survey his new house about 1715" (Nicholas Grindle).
From the distinguished library at Sherborne house in Gloucestershire, rebuilt by Lewis William Wyatt between 1829–1834, for John Dutton, 2nd baron Sherborne (1779-1862). Upcott I, p.246.