London: R. Ackermann, 1812. Item #04939
One of the Quintessential English Regency Color-Plate Books
Ackermann's Westminster with Eighty-One Magnificent Hand Colored Aquatint Plates
ACKERMANN, Rudolph. COMBE, William. The History of the Abbey Church of St. Peter's Westminster, Its Antiquities and Monuments. In Two Volumes. London: R. Ackermann, 1812.
First edition. Two large folio volumes (13 3/8 x 11 inches; 340 x 280 mm.). [iii]-xviii, [ii], 330, [vi, index]; [iii-iv], 275, [1, blank], [iv, index] pp. (pp. 204/205 repeated with asterisks). Complete with both half-titles. Text by William Combe. Portrait of William Vincent (uncolored), engraved Plan of Westminster Abbey (uncolored), one hand-colored line engraving and eighty hand colored aquatint plates. Uncolored line engraving on page 151 in volume one. Plates watermarked "J. Whatman 1808".
Contemporary half russia over marbled boards, smooth spines decoratively ruled and lettered in gilt, Marbled endpapers, all edges marbled. Joints neatly repaired, some wear to corners and top of the spine of volume I.
A tall copy. Some sporadic foxing (moderate at times) to the text, offsetting (from plates to text only) and toning. Plate 10 with very small (1/4 inch) stain on fore-margin; plate F with small paper-flaw affecting 1/4 inch blank corner, & plate 59 with light foxing to top blank margin. Overall a really nice copy with the colored plates generally very bright and fresh of this monumental work on the Abbey Church of St. Peter's Westminster.
One of the quintessential English Regency color-plate books. Ackermann's Abbey Church of St. Peter's Westminster is a superbly illustrated study of one of the "most interesting edifices in the British Empire. Its remote antiquity, its edificial beauty, the character and variety of its architecture, as well as the ornament it affords to the metropolis, give it a superior distinction" (introduction). "In The History of the Abbey Church of St. Peter's Westminister, Ackermann employed a variety of artists used to bring out in the plates the luster of stained glass windows and the 'dim religious light' of the chapels" (Penn Special Collections exhibition). Among the illustrators were F. Mackenzie, A. Pugin, J. Bluck, and T. Sutherland. Although described on the added title-page as a "Companion and Continuation of The Microcosm of London," the work stands on its own merits as one of Ackermann's most ambitious and successful topographical color-plate books; Combe's text, which unashamedly exudes a sense of national pride, is both interesting and informative.
Ackermann's Westminster was originally issued in wrappers in sixteen parts, and on completion in boards at £15.00. Large-paper copies have the portrait of William Vincent on India Paper. The finest copy is preserved and may be seen in a glass case in Westminster Abbey; the letterpress is printed on vellum, with all the original drawings mounted and bound in. (Tooley)
Abbey, Scenery, 213; Tooley 2; Prideaux p. 331.