Picturesque Representation of the Manners, Customs, and Amusements of the Russians, A; in one hundred coloured plates; with an accurate explanation of each plate in English and French. In three volumes.

The Hand Colored Plates Show the Spontaneity and Spirit Possible
When the Artist is His Own Engraver

ATKINSON, John Augustus, illustrator & engraver. WALKER, James. A Picturesque Representation of the Manners, Customs, and Amusements of the Russians, in one hundred coloured plates; with an accurate explanation of each plate in English and French. In three volumes. London: Printed by W. Bulmer… and sold by … Messrs. Boydell, Shakespeare Gallery… Mr. Alici, St. Petersburg: and Messrs. Riss and Saucet, Moscow, 1803-[1804].

First edition. Three folio volumes, (18 1/16 x 12 3/4 inches; 459 x 323 mm.). [ix], [i, blank], 33 leaves of text; [v], [i, blank], 34 leaves of text; [v], [i, blank], 33 leaves of text. Engraved frontispiece portrait of Alexander I in volume three. One hundred hand-colored etched and aquatint plates, by and after Atkinson. Text in English and French. Some light offsetting from plates, light even browning to text, occasional light scattered spotting. Plates watermarked J. Whatman 1801, E.P. 1801 & I. Taylor 1801 & 1804. Text watermarked J. Whatman 1801 & J. Ruse 1802.

Full contemporary diced russia, covers decoratively stamped in blind and tooled in gilt. Smooth spines decoratively tooled and lettered in gilt, gilt board edges and turn-ins, marbled endpapers. Expertly rebacked with the original spines laid-down. Corners expertly repaired. With the bookplate of Joel Spitz on front paste-downs. A wonderful copy.

"The first wok in English "To give an accurate representation in both text and illustrations of the manners and customs of the ordinary Russian people", demonstrating 'Atkinson's lively draughtsmanship and the width of his observations" (ODNB).

According to Abbey the plates ‘show the spontaneity and spirit possible when the artist is his own engraver. It seems possible that in some passages sugar aquatint was used. The coloring is beautifully and skillfully done, in soft washes.’

ATKINSON, John Augustus (1775-1831) was born in London. In 1784, he went to St. Petersburg to his uncle James Walker, engraver to the empress Catherine the Great . There he studied in the picture galleries, encouraged by Catherine and her son Paul I and was commissioned by Paul to paint large pictures of Russian history. In 1801, Atkinson returned to England, and in 1803 published A Picturesque Representation of the Manners, Customs, and Amusements of the Russians, in 100 plates, drawn and etched by himself. He also painted in watercolors and in 1808 was elected to the Society of Painters in Water Colors. Many of his works, during the Napoleonic wars, were of naval subjects. He painted many battle scenes including a Battle of Waterloo, which was engraved by John Burnet. His last contribution to the Royal Academy exhibition was in 1829.

WALKER, James (1748-1808). The son of a captain in the merchant navy, Walker became a pupil of Valentine Green. In 1784 he went to St. Petersburg, appointed engraver to the Empress Catherine II. He remained in Russia till 1802, engraving portraits of the imperial family and of the Russian aristocracy, as well as pictures by Old Masters in the imperial collection. Walker's appointment as court engraver was renewed by the Emperor Alexander I, and he was a member of the Imperial Academy of Arts at St. Petersburg. He returned to England with a pension in 1802.

Abbey Travel 223; Lipperheide 1343; Colas 171; Tooley 72. Item #03317

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