Picturesque tour of the River Thames : illustrated by twenty-four coloured views, a map, and vignettes, from original drawings taken on the spot / by William Westall and Samuel Owen.

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Date: 1828

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One of the greatest and most spectacular of all Thames view books. Westall was a historical painter from a Norwich family, and is considered at his best in watercolor. The tour is presented in three sections: the first from the river's source to Oxford; the second from Oxford to London; and the third from London to where it joins the English Channel.

Interestingly, at the time, it was felt necessary to offer some justification for the work appearing at all: the vogue when the present work was published was for picturesque scenery of the wilder and more exotic kind. The author in the preface admits that whilst the Thames does not qualify as either wild or exotic, its banks do "display all the softer graces and all the attractive loveliness of Nature in her sweetest mood, heightened by the taste, skill, and ingenuity of man; - they are decorated by venerable monuments of antiquity, and by prodigies of modern art."

What the author does not say, is that the softer beauties of the Thames and the surrounding English landscape are ideally suited to the quiet tones and subtle harmonies that are such a feature of the best aquatints - and this work does include some of the more sublime images to be produced during the method's hayday in the first half of the 19th century. This work marks the happy confluence of a pair of great landscape artists with a group of aquatint engravers on top form. The results are spectacular, particularly when, as here, the images are all early impressions before the fragile tones start to blur.

"The tradition of picture-books on the Thames was started by Samuel Ireland with his Picturesque Views on the River Thames published in 1791-2, but Boydell was quick to compete in 1793 with his own two-volume History of the Thames. Both of these, like the present volume, were illustrated with aquatints and between them they established a canon of most-favoured views from the source to the sea." - Bernard Adams (London Illustrated 1604-1851).

Adams also notes that: "The colouring is less subdued than Boydell's, and there are more unaquatinted spaces where the interpretation has been left to the colour-washing artist. This gives the plates a greater resemblance to spontaneous water-colour drawings but leads inevitably to a greater disparity between individual copies."

Quarto. (13 1/4" x 10 3/4"). Hand-colored aquatint vignette on title and final text leaf, 1 uncolored folding engraved map of the Thames, 24 hand-colored aquatint plates by R. G. Reeve, C. Bentley, J. Bailey, and J. Fielding after Westall and Owen.

References:

Bobins II 734; Abbey Scenery 435; Tooley 503; Adams 157.

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Publisher: London: Published by Rudolph Ackermann

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English

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ISBN-10: N/A

Date Added: 2019-07-24

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