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MAJOR, Thomas (1720--1799)
The ruins of Pæstum, otherwise Posidonia, in Magna Græcia. By Thomas Major, engraver to His Majesty.
London: published by T. Major. Printed by James Dixwell, 1768.
[4], 45, [1] p., XXIIII [i.e. 25] pl. (includes bis pl. XIX) : engr. illus. ; 54.0 cm. (2°)

The first scholarly architectural study of Paestum in English, edited by Major who alone is named on the title-page and as the engraver, but attributed in the preface to the initiative of 'an English Gentleman ... who procured at Naples several fine Drawings of these Temples'. The authorship of the work is discussed at length by Eileen Harris and Nicholas Savage in Harris and Savage, British architectural books and writers 1556--1785 (Cambridge 1990), pp. 303--311; by S. Lang, 'The early publications of the temples at Paestum', Journal of the Warburg And Courtauld Institutes 13:1-2 (1950), pp. 48-64; and by Robin Middleton in National Gallery (Washington), The Mark J. Millard Architectural Collection, vol. II (Washington D.C. 1998), pp. 151--161; an edition in French was published simultaneously (see BAL, Early printed books, no. 2008). The work was evidently conceived as a sequel to Robert Wood's Ruins of Palmyra, 1753 (q.v.) and Ruins of Balbec, 1757 (q.v.), on both of which Major had been employed as engraver, and Wood and James Bruce of Kinnaird were probably the primary movers of this publication. The plates show views, plans, elevations and sections of the buildings, and along with the works of Le Roy, Stuart and Revett, and Dumont, contributed to the 'Greek Revival' in European architecture. A volume of 'The Original Drawings for a Work Intituled The Ruins of Paestum or Posidonia, Engraved by T: Major 1768' and a collection of 'Major's proof etchings & additional engravings & 12 drawings', are also in the Soane Museum: see SM Concise Catalogue of Drawings, Vol 27 and Drawer 60/1/1--34. ESTC t100079; Harris and Savage, 538; Millard II, 41; Berlin Kat. 1894; Fowler Cat. 187.

Copy Notes Copy 1: 'Majors Paestum with proofs, etchings, & additional engrav[in]gs & 12 Draw[in]gs', bought from John Britton in July 1825 for £5 17s. 6d. together with '63 Original D[rawin]gs for the same work' for 13 guineas, paid 19 October 1825. (Priv. Corr. III.B.1.49). Inscribed in ink on title-page With the Original Prints, from whence many of the Plates/ are copied. Some were given to Mr Major by Robert Mylne, and with pencil corrections to the captions of the plates. With four proof plates - two being early versions of the published plates X and XI, the other two being of architectural details subsequently combined on one new plate (i.e. pl. XII). Bound (1) with Filippo Morghen, Sei tavole delle rovine di Pesto, [1765] (q.v.). See SM Concise Catalogue of Drawings, Vol 28.
Copy 2: Probably the copy bought on 27 November 1785 for 2 guineas. (Soane Account Book 1781--6).

Binding Copy 1: C18th half calf, marbled paper boards, gilt thick-ruled spine, black morocco spine-label.
Copy 2: C18th half calf, marbled-paper boards, red morocco spine-label

Reference Number 2709


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