London: printed for J. Robson, Bookseller to the Princess Dowager of Wales, at the Feathers, in New Bond Street, MDCCLXVIII . First Edition. Paper-Covered Boards. Small 8vo: ,iv,4,,249,pp (pp.44-45 and 81-96 misnumbered 45-46 and 77-92 respectively; this copy, as most, bound without the 17 plates). Rebound to style by Fitterer in marbled paper-covered boards, printed paper labels on spine and upper cover—a splendid presentation. Copper-engraved bookplate of Rev. W[illiam]. T[homas]. Bree (1786–1863), vicar of All Saints' church in Allesley, reaffixed to front paste down. An excellent copy in a new binding, the text block generally clean and bright with just occasional minor smudges and handling marks. Barbier, pp. 24-27. Lowndes II 895. Near Fine+. Item #BB0853
Published anonymously (Gilpin's authorship was only revealed with the third edition, in 1781) as the first standard guide on print collecting in England, reaching a fifth edition in 1802. On the continent its influence spread through German, French and Dutch translations. Gilpin's "aim, as the title-page indicates, was to outline ‘the Principles of picturesque Beauty, the Different Kinds of Prints, and the Characters of the most noted Masters’. . . . The Essay defines ‘picturesque’ as ‘a term expressive of that peculiar kind of beauty, which is agreeable in a picture’ (Essay on Prints, 2), but does not develop the definition." (ODNB) Among prints singled out for detailed consideration are Salvator Rosa's "Death of Polycrates," Waterloo’s "Tobias," and Hogarth’s "Rake’s Progress." Finally, the collector is "cautioned against indulging a desire of becoming possessed of all the works of any master. . . . against a superstitious veneration for names. . . . [against] making the public taste our standard. . . [against] rat[ing prints'] value by their scarceness. . . [against] buying copies for originals," and against] acquiring poor impressions. N. B. With few exceptions (always identified), we only stock books in exceptional condition, with dust jackets carefully preserved in archival, removable polypropylene sleeves. All orders are packaged with care and posted promptly. Satisfaction guaranteed.