RIOU, Stephen

The grecian orders of architecture. Delineated and explained from the antiquities of Athens. Also the parallels of the orders of Palladio Scamozzi and Vignola. To which are added Remarks concerning publick and private edifices with designs.

London, printed by J. Dixwell, for the author, MDCCLXVIII, 1768


FIRST EDITION. Folio. two parts in one. pp. [xx],78. Part 1 with18 and part 2 with 10 full-page or folding pates. [-]4, a6, A-U2. Roman letter some Italic. Engraved title-vignette, 6 fine large vignettes as head-pieces in text, list of subscribers, etched bookplate of Earl of Aylesford of Packington, Warwickshire, on fly. Some light offsetting of the plates, endpapers foxed, title lightly spotted, very rare marginal mark. A fine copy, with excellent impression of the plates, in contemporary three-quarter speckled calf over marbled boards, spine with raised bands gilt ruled, morocco label gilt, a.e.r. covers a little darkened, head and tail with small restoration.

First and only edition of Riou’s attempt at systematising Greek architecture, beautifully illustrated with finely engraved plates and vignettes. Stephen Riou (1720-1780) was an English architect of Huguenot origins; he studied at Geneva and published his first work ‘The elements of Fortification’ in 1746. A 1751 archaeological expedition funded by the Society of Dilettanti exposed for the first time elements of classic Greek architecture. British architects and enthusiasts, including Riou, took up the challenge to emulate the style, giving birth to the Greek Revival movement. Riou was studying in Athens at the same time as Stuart and Revett were making their drawings of Grecian antiquities, and it is to Stuart that he dedicated this work. Riou attempts in this work “to establish documents for three orders and to make a modulary division of all their component parts for practical uses” based on his belief that the three Grecian orders were “alone sufficient to answer all the purposes in building”. Blackmer. The work was particularly important in the establishment of Greek Revival architecture. With a newfound access to Greece, or initially the books produced by the few who had actually been able to visit the sites, archaeologist-architects of the period studied the Doric and Ionic orders. In each country it touched, the style was looked on as the expression of local nationalism and civic virtue, and also a freedom from the lax detail and frivolity that was thought to characterise the architecture of France and Italy, two countries where the style never really took hold. This was especially the case in Britain, Germany and the United States, where the idiom was regarded as being free from ecclesiastical and aristocratic associations. The book is dedicated to James Stuart who, along with David Garrick, Soame Jenyns and George Stubbs, is included in the list of subscribers.

ESTC T154445. Blackmer 1425. “Riou was in Athens while Stuart and Revett were working there, and decided to produce an architectural theory for the use of the Greek architectural orders then being described and measured by Stuart and Revett.” Harris 746. RIBA 2795.
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