SPL Hand Coloured Rare Book Collection Featuring Norman R Bobins

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PROUT, Samuel.
Sketches in France, Switzerland and Italy.

London: Hodgson and Graves, [1839].
Abbey Travel 34;
London: Hodgson and Graves, [1839].

Folio. 560 x 380 mm. (22" x 15"). [3] letterpress leaves (comprising the dedication/list of plates leaf at the front, and two leaves of ads at the back), plus plates. FIRST EDITION. Publisher's blue moiré cloth boards, upper board with original gilt lettering, later (flat) spine of blue morocco with title in gilt. 26 most pleasing hand coloured lithographic architectural plates (including the engraved title) of church interiors and exteriors, street and canal scenes, and city views. Front pastedown with the bookplate of 'Giannalisa Feltrinelli'. Corners a little bumped, upper board with small (but noticeable) white (paint ?) stain and a darkened 3" wide horizontal strip, one plate with a very small brown marginal spot, but still an extremely desirable copy, it is remarkably fine internally, the beautifully coloured plates are especially clean, fresh, and bright, and in a solid binding retaining much of its original materials. This is a lovely collection of continental views by an eminent British artist at the height of his career, and our copy is remarkably free of the foxing that often plagues this and other similar illustrated books of the period. As Ray says, Prout (1784-1852) "was a pioneer lithographer who employed the process as early as 1817. . . . His friend and disciple Ruskin specifically exempted Prout from his dismissal of lithography in 'The Elements of Drawing,' noting that 'all his published lithographic sketches are of the greatest value, wholly unrivalled in power of composition and in love and feeling of architectural subjects.'" The plates here are striking in their details of architecture, costume, commercial and social interaction, and urban terrain. They seem remarkably successful at capturing the feeling of the moment and locale, and the use of hand coloring brings a special pleasure in its enhancement of realism. There are views here of Tours (3), Chartres, Strassburg, Amboise, Geneva (2), Lausanne, Sion, Milan (2), Verona, Venice (6), Rome (2), Lyons, Domo d'Ossola, Como, Basel, and Schaffhausen. Finding a coloured copy of this work is not easy: since 1975, ABPC lists just two copies with the plates fully coloured, one (on card) sold in 1989, and then the present copy auctioned nine years later (at the Feltrinelli sales held by Christie's during 1997-98). Coloured plates in order: 1. Title page. 2. Interior of the Cathedral, Chatres. 3. Strassbourg. 4. Ancient Church, now the Corn Hall, Tours. 5. The Church of St. Symphorien, Tours. 6. Interior of the Castle Chapel, Amboise. 7. Street Scene, Geneva. 8. Porch of the Cathedral, Lausanne. 9. Old Houses, Sion. 10. Interior of the Cathedral, Milan. 11. Mausoleum of the Scalier Family, Verona. 12. The Bridge of Sighs, Venice. 13. The Interior of St. Marks, Venice. 14. The Temple of Pallas, Rome. 15. The Cathedral and Bridge over the Saone, Lyons. 16. Geneva from the Rhone. 17. At Domo d'Ossola. 18. Piazzetta San Marco, Venice. 19. The Grand Canal and Church of Sta. Maria della Salute, Venice. 20. The Ducal Palace and Pillars of St. Mark, Venice. 21. The Rialto, Venice. 22. Como, from the Lake. 23. The front of the Cathedral, Milan 24. The Forum, Rome. 25. The Cathedral and Bridge, Basle. 26. The Fountain, Schaffhausen.