London: Smith, Elder, and Co., 65 Cornhill, Spottiswoodes and Shaw, New-Street-Square [through 1853], 1851. First Edition. Decorative Cloth. Three First Impressions, complete in the publisher's original matched bindings, of Ruskin's exhaustive examination of Venetian architecture of the Byzantine, Gothic, and Renaissance periods. Royal 8vo (257 x 164mm): xvi,413,,16[catalogue dated June, 1855], with errata slip following List of Plates; viii,394,,16[catalogue dated March, 1854]; ,362,,16[catalogue dated March,1854]pp, with 53 engraved, lithograph, and mezzotint tissue-guarded plates (seven hand-colored) and wood engraved illustrations in the text, all after drawings by Ruskin. Publisher's original chocolate brown decorative cloth, covers with elaborate floral design in blind framing keyhole vignette in gilt drawn from plate XI of vol. II; spines stamped ornamentally in blind and in gilt crowned by Lion of St. Mark's; top edges gilt, others rough-trimmed; terracotta end papers. Engraved armorial book plate to front paste downs of Drayton Grimke-Drayton, of Clifford Manor, Gloustershire, presumably a direct descendant of Thomas Drayton, who established Magnolia Plantation along the Ashley River near Charleston, South Carolina, in 1676; Drayton family ownership has lasted more than 300 years and continues to this day. First few leaves of vol. I lightly foxed, else an excellent set, tightly bound (each volume almost imperceptibly rebacked with original spines laid down, virtually without loss), clean and bright throughout, with fine renditions of the plates. Wise 291, 293, 295. Shepherd 23. Ray (Illustrator and the Book in England) 31. PMM 315. Fine. Item #BB1975
Immediately on publication of this key text of the Aesthetic Movement, The Stones of Venice became "a revolutionary success." (PMM) Mainly a treatise on architecture, it was meant to "apply to the buildings of Venice the general principles enunciated in [his] Seven Lamps of Architecture (1848). It moves, however, beyond the earlier work’s abstract treatment, not only because it dedicates substantial attention to the details of architectural construction, but also because it places architecture within its social, political, moral, and religious context. Volume I, 'The Foundations', discusses the edifices of Venice and their functional and ornamental aspects and presents a brief history of the city. In Volume II, 'The Sea Stories', Ruskin turned his thoughts to the Byzantine period and the climactic development of Venetian life, its Gothic period, which meant to him 'not only the best, but the only rational architecture', while Renaissance architecture 'is pure in its insipidity, and subtle in its vice'. Crucially, it is in Volume III, 'The Fall' (which also includes the alphabetical guide to the most important buildings of all periods, the Venetian Index), that Ruskin puts forth his thesis that the onset of the Renaissance caused the city’s architectural decline; he felt that architecture had lost all of the moral character he had described so eloquently in his earlier volumes, and has instead been turned into the 'perpetuation in stone of the ribaldries of drunkenness and rowdiness.'" (Literary Encyclopedia) N. B. With few exceptions (always identified), we only stock books in exceptional condition. All orders are packaged with care and posted promptly. Satisfaction guaranteed. (Fine Editions Ltd is a member of the Independent Online Booksellers Association, and we subscribe to its codes of ethics.).