REPTON, Humphrey (1752-1818) - John Adey (1775-1860) and George Stanley (d.1858). Designs for the Pavilion at Brighton. London: T.Bensley for J.C.Stadler, to be sold by Boydell and Co. and others, 1808 [watermarked 1807].
Folio (20 6/8 x 14 inches). Letterpress title-page and dedication leaf, Prefatory Observations. 20 SUPERB engraved and or aquatint plates of views of the Pavillion and grounds: full-page allegorical uncoloured aquatint, engraved "General Ground Plan" with original hand-colour, one magnificent double-page aquatint and another double-page and folding both with overlips and original hand-colour, full-page aquatint with full overpage with original hand-colour, 2 full-page aquatints with overslips with original hand-colour, full-page aquatint with original hand-colour, full-page aquatint with sepia wash, 2 aquatint vignettes with overslip with original hand-colour, one without overslip, one with sepia wash, and 7 uncoloured, all by Stadler after Repton. Modern half brown limp morocco, cloth, with the contemporary ochre cloth front cover with morocco lettering-piece bound in at the beginning (a bit scuffed).
Provenance: With the leather library label of William Foyle (1885-1963), bookseller, on the front paste-down, his sale, Christie's, 13th July 2000, lot 874.
First edition, and early issue with watermarks dated 1807, of this extraordinary work illustrating Repton's unused plans for one of Britain's most iconic buildings. "Repton's shift in scaling dramatizes the visual consequences of his plans. In the before flap on tip, the Brighton pavilion appears hidden, isolated, distant--impressions intensified by the tiny person and by the over-writing on the shadowy building. When the flap is raised to reveal the proposed redesign, the space between us and the pavilion has now become intimate and comfortable, filled with well dressed visitors... Repton overreached in several other before/after comparisons, exaggerating the impact of his proposed improvements. In the plan at left, the design of the flap, the pole-people, and the integrated text are all ingenious and delightful--but the integrity of the work is compromised by persistent visual cheating" (Tufte, Visual Explanations, p.17).
Repton was deeply flattered by "his most promising commission of all, to refashion the Royal Pavilion at Brighton for the prince of Wales. From the outset of his career Repton had sought royal patronage. When Thomas Sandby died in 1798 he tried unsuccessfully to secure, through his aristocratic contacts, the position of deputy rangership of Windsor Great Park, which Sandby had used to pursue landscaping and architecture. Repton worked on the commission for Brighton Pavilion with three of his sons, John Adey, George Stanley, and Humphry the younger. They chose an Indian style, explicitly modelled on the illustrations in volume 1 of William Daniell's Oriental Scenery (1805), and prepared a sumptuous red book. Repton was again disappointed. His design was not implemented, nor was he paid for his work; moreover, John Nash prepared another design loosely based on Repton's which was eventually built. Repton tried to salvage something from the commission by publishing Designs for the Pavillon [as here] at Brighton (1808)" (Stephen Daniels for DNB).
Brighton Pavilion was a departure from Repton's usual restraint, in many ways, and he expected criticism for it, pre-empting the charges in his own "Prefatory Observations" Repton quotes himself from his "An Enquiry into the Changes of Taste in landscape Gardening and Architecture", 1806: "...we are on the eve of some great change in Landscape Gardening and Architecture, in consequence of our having lately become better acquainted with Scenery and Buildings in the interior provinces of India" (page 41), and goes on to elaborate in the current work: "As many parts of this volume may appear to recommend a degree of novelty, to which I have frequently objected in former publications, it will perhaps subject me to some severity of criticism,... at a time when the wealth of individuals has been increasing in this country beyond the example of all former periods, it would not be an uninteresting subject of enquiry, to consider how far the more general diffusion of GOOD TASTE has kept pace with the increased wealth of the individuals; or rather, the effect which that increased wealth has produced on the taste of the country generally" (page [i]).
From the distinguished library of William Foyle, who "started trading as a bookseller by selling his own school books second-hand as soon as he had no further use for them. In 1903, at the age of eighteen, he opened, with his brother Gilbert (1886–1971), a bookshop in Islington, north London, moving on shortly to Peckham, south London, and in 1904 to Cecil Court, off Charing Cross Road, in central London, where in many shops and on roadside barrows second-hand books were the chief commodity. Three years later the business moved to Charing Cross Road itself, where, with many extensions, it remained in his lifetime". Foyle latterly made "his home near the town of Maldon, buying in 1945 the twelfth-century Premonstratensian abbey of Beeleigh, situated on the River Chelmer. In this beautiful setting he was able to indulge his passion for collecting rare books, and formed a great library. Among his acquisitions were incunabula from William Caxton, Wynkyn de Worde, and Koberger; Shakespeare folios; and a superb collection of fourteenth- and fifteenth-century illuminated manuscripts" (Christina Foyle, rev. G. R. Davies for DNB). Abbey Scenery 57; cf. Tooley 396 (variant title). Catalogued by Kate Hunter