SPL Hand Coloured Rare Book Collection Featuring Norman R Bobins

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WHATLEY, Thomas.
Observations on Modern Gardening, and layout pleasure-ground, parks, farms, ridings, &c.

London: West & Hughes, 1801.
Henrey 1189; Bobins 905.
London: West & Hughes, 1801.

New edition and first illustrated edition. 4to, [8], 257pp., 6 hand coloured plates within ornamental borders, contemporary red morocco backed marbled boards. This is a new edition and the first illustrated edition. Whatley was an English writer, garden designer and perhaps most importantly politician, who allied himself with Grenville and Lord North. However, he is perhaps best remembered for this present work which includes a large number of descriptions of English gardens, some treated in great detail. The author attempts to analyse and categorise them. The work is considered by his contemporary, Horace Walpole, “to be a system of rules [regarding gardening] pushed to a great degree of refinement.” Contemporary visitors to gardens often used this work, known simply as “Whatley’s Observations”, as a guide book. This seems a somewhat modest assessment which should perhaps be revised. The edition of 1770 had notes by Horace, Earl of Orford; there was also a fifth edition of 1793 and, as mentioned above, a French edition by Latapie. Archbishop Whatley in his essay on Bacon appended an Essay on Gardens in praise of his uncle’s treatise; while Alison, in his “Essay on Taste”, gives Whatley’s work the highest praise. Whatley’s main thesis was adopted by Morel in France. More mentions came from Fosbroke, who quotes the work in his Wye Tour, as did the author’s friend, William Gilpin, also in his work on the Wye; altogether a highly influential work on the history of gardening. Although the first edition was published in 1770, Thomas Whatley rejected features popular in the early 18th century, such as statuary and temples, in favour of less contrived effects. He himself laid out a small garden in a chalk pit at Nonsuch Mansion at Cheam, the home he shared with his brother Joseph, and created a second garden for William Gilpin, famous for his views of the Lake District and other parts of England. Sadly both gardens were later destroyed. Coloured plates in order: 1. Frontispiece. A view of part of the Garden at Hall Barn, near Beaconsfield, Bucks, as laid out by Edmond Waller Esq. 2. Esher in Surry, the Seat of Rt. Hon. Henry Pelham, as laid out by Mr. Kent. 3. View of the Garden &c. at Carlton House, the Residence of H.R.H. the Prince of Wales. 4. The House and Gardens at Woobourn in Surry, as laid out by Philip Southcote Esq. 5. View of the West side of the Island in the Gardens at Pains Hill Surrey, as laid out by the Hon. Charles Hamilton. 6. A View of Hagley Gardens &c. from Thomson's Seat.