DEARN, Thomas Downs Wilmot.


DEARN, Thomas Downs Wilmot. Sketches in Architecture, consisting of original designs for public and private buildings.

London, for the Author, [1806].


FIRST EDITION. Royal 4to. pp. [62] + 16 leaves of plates (pls 6 and 10 misnumbered). 16 aquatints (with tissue guards) of façades and plans of public and private buildings. Very light water stain to upper outer blank corner of initial and final few ll., occasional very minor mostly marginal spotting. A very good, wide-margined copy in contemporary half Russia over marbled boards, rebacked with original spine onlaid, corners repaired, boards rubbed, C19 armorial bookplate of Thomas Henry Spurrier, modern dry-stamp of Derek Gibson and acquisition date to ffep.

A very good copy of the first edition of this handsomely illustrated work on private and public architecture, with 16 charming aquatints, two of the Basilica or Naval Museum ‘proposed to be erected on the Scite of Pelham House in Greenwich Park and intended to form a centre to the hospital’. Thomas Dearn (1777-1853) practised in Kent, on the topography of which he wrote two works. Only two buildings known are certainly attributable to him. The buildings illustrated in this work were conceived to ‘embrace as much variety in point of design, as could have well been aimed at’. The preface offers ‘some observations on the present state of architecture’ in Britain, praising the Royal Academy, but acknowledging the ‘deficiency of merit so observable in most of the buildings which surround us’, as a ‘deviation from true taste’. Among his targets is ‘the Pavillion at Brighton, which appeared in the late Exhibition’ – ‘This extravagant thing, which sets all criticism at defiance, must appear still more monstruous and absurd, when we consider for what it is intended, and the rank of the personage, of whose principal residence it is proposed to form so conspicuous a part’. The first building discussed is a cottage originally planned for Dearn himself, which is described in detail, with room measurements. There follow lodges at a park entrance, a billiard room, public baths, a Gothic entrance, the cenotaph for the Marquis Cornwallis, the Corn Exchange, the project for a National Mausoleum, and the Basilica or Naval Museum planned for Greenwich Park.

BAL 825 (1807 ed.); Berlin Kat. I (1977) 2317 (1807 ed.); Archer 60.1 (1807 ed.).
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