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VITRUVIUS POLLIO, Marcus (fl. ca. 84--14 B.C.)
[De architectura. English. 1791]
The architecture of M. Vitruvius Pollio: translated from the original Latin. By W. Newton, architect. Volume the first (second).
London: printed for James Newton; and sold by I. and J. Taylor; R. Faulder; P. Elmsley; and T. Sewell [sic], 1791.
2 vols ; 48.3 cm. (2º)
I: [4], xix, [5], 122, [4] p., engr. port., XXVI pl.
II: [6], 123--280 p., XX pl.

Both volumes have a cancel slip pasted over the imprint adding the name of James Newton who took over after his brother William's death in July 1790. This was the first complete English translation of Vitruvius and the first unabridged edition to be printed in Britain (an abridged edition having been published in 1692, q.v.); proposals for a translation by Robert Castell came to nothing after his imprisonment for debt and subsequent death in 1729. The first volume of Newton's translation was published in 1771, and the second volume was probably nearly complete by 1780 when selections were published in French translation (q.v.), but publication was delayed by ill health and professional commitments. See E. Harris and N. Savage, British architectural books and writers 1556--1785 (Cambridge 1990), pp. 464--466. The letterpress of volume I is a reissue of the unsold 1771 sheets with a cancel title-page, new preliminaries and a two-leaf 'Appendix' which in most copies is misbound at the end of vol. II; however, many of the plates were redrawn or retouched and eight are new. On the evidence of the three more or less heavily annotated copies in the Soane's library, this was his favourite edition of Vitruvius to which he returned again and again in preparing his Royal Academy lectures, citing Vitruvius more frequently than any other authority, making extensive notes and transcriptions in a volume of MS. 'Extracts, Hints &c on Architecture' in late 1814 (Soane Case 169, leaves 97--179) and compiling a 25-page index as late as April 1821 (Archives MBiii/1/11). See David Watkin, Sir John Soane: Enlightenment thought and the Royal Academy Lectures (Cambridge 1996), pp. 98--102. BAL, Early printed books, no. 3507; Harris and Savage, 895; Fowler 428.

Copy Notes One copy was bought from Egerton for £4 on 26 July 1793. (Journal 2 p. 300; Ledger B, p. 90). Another copy was bought for £2 at W. Reveley's sale at Christie's on 11 May 1801 (q.v.), lot 112. However, none of the copies in the Soane Museum can be securely identified with these purchases.
Copy 1: Bound in one volume. In this copy the 'Appendix' intended for vol. I is misbound as in many copies at the end of the vol. II letterpress. Extensively annotated by Soane in the margins in ink and pencil. Some pencil page references in an early C19th hand on the front free-endpaper.
Copy 2: 48.4 cm. Volume II is a variant with the plates unnumbered and unsigned. With the 'Appendix' intended for vol. I misbound at the end of vol. II, and a duplicate of James Newton's address 'To The Public' bound at the end of the preliminaries. Both volumes inscribed with numerous notes by Soane in ink in the margins and on the rear free-endpaper of volume II. Volume I contains two loosely inserted sheets of reference notes in Soane's hand dated 16 Nov: 1821. Volume II with two loosely inserted sheets of rough notes (at pp. 160--1) probably for Soane's Royal Academy lectures, referring to the building of Eaton Hall, Cheshire (1804--12) in the Gothic style by William Porden; also a loosely inserted letter (at pp. 154--5) addressed to J. Soane, Esqr / College and dated Octr. 18th. 1819 signed by J. La Grave and in the same hand with the name of Hy. Ward Aged 12 Years whose penmanship was presumably being displayed, giving notice of a meeting of the Trustees of Chelsea Charity Schools. Both volumes inscribed on the front free-endpaper in a curatorial hand 1866.96, indicating that these two volumes were among the family and professional papers sealed by Soane in a receptacle (a bath) with instructions not to be opened until 1896.
Copy 3: 50.5 cm. Imperfect; volume II only, wanting plate [XIX]. A variant with plates unnumbered and unsigned. Untrimmed edges. With the 'Appendix' intended for vol. I misbound at the end. Inscribed by Soane with pencil notes in the margins; also a small sketch of a niche comparing Vitr[uvian] to Modern Practice on p. 146, and a diagram copied from Fig. LXIV on p. 199. With a loosely inserted sheet containing a rough pencil sketch of superimposed colonnades at p. 139.

Binding Copy 1: Late C18th half diced russia, marbled-paper boards, gilt-ruled spine, green morocco spine-label.
Copy 2: C19th half diced russia, gilt-ruled borders and spine, marbled-paper boards, marbled endpapers. This may be the copy of 'Vitruvius 2 Vols Royal folio Russia' bound by Thomas Faulkner in Chelsea for £1 16s., 8 July 1818. (Spiers Box. Miscellaneous booksellers).
Copy 3: Original late C18th blue paper boards, white paper spine.

Reference Number 3536


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