I. Parts 1 and 2 bound as separate volumes. ‘Description Exacte des Palais du Roy, et des Maisons les plus considerable des Seigneurs & des Gentilshommes de la Grande Bretagne. Le tout dessine sur les lieux, & grave en quatre-vingt Planches ou l’on voit aussi les Armes des Seigneurs & Gentils hommes’. 1716.
Part 1, pp. (10), with 80 engraved plates, plates 22 & 23 joined, including folding plate 24* of Hatfield House as called for
Part 2, pp. (8), with 64 engraved plates
II. ‘Description exacte des Villes, Eglises, Cathedrales, Hopitaux, Ports de Mer, &c. de la Grande Bretagne’. 1714.
pp. 14, (2), with 67 engraved plates on 58 sheets including several large folding views and a genealogical table, with cancel slip instructing the binder to join certain pairs of plates
III. ‘Description exacte des Villes, Eglises, Cathedrales, Hôpitaux, Ports de Mer, &c. de la Grande Bretagne … auquel on ajoute un Atlas de l’Angleterre’ 1715; ‘Atlas Anglois, ou description generale de l’Angleterre, contenant une description geographique de chaque province, avec les cartes, les genealogies des plus illustres familles, & les archeveches & eveches’. 1714.
pp. 12, (2), with 61 engraved plates on 53 sheets; ‘Atlas Anglois’ …, pp. 16, (2), with 41 engraved maps on 40 double-page sheets, general map by De Wit, county maps by Jansson and Blaeu, most with the imprint of Schenk and Valk.
The seventeenth century had seen the wonderful topographical work of Wenceslaus Hollar, but his impact on native illustrators was slight. The job of recording the English landscape passed to the Dutch. Two particular individuals were Joannes Kip (1653?-1721) and Leonard Knyff (1650-1722). Kip was an artist and engraver born in Amsterdam ‘in or before’ 1653. He trained under Bastiaen Stopendael from May 1668. Married in Amsterdam, his known work there extends to 1688. He then appears in London, no doubt following the trail set by William of Orange, the new William III of England. He produced many works in England but he is best known for engraving the views of Knyff’s country seats for this work. The idea of birds-eye views of places had been around for some time and had even been incorporated into atlases such as those by Joan Blaeu and John Speed.
Knyff advertised in the ‘Post Man’ for 31 May–3 June 1701 offering subscriptions for the ‘Britannia Illustrata’ that he had ‘undertaken, by way of Subscription, the Drawing and Printing of 100 Noblemen and Gentlemens Seats, whereof 60 are finished, and the Subscription not being full … [For £10] every Subscriber shall have two prints of each impression, which makes in all 200’. Each subscription would enable their house and grounds to be engraved, his coat of arms engraved on the plate.
By 1707 Knyff had still not received 100 subscribers. He pronounced in the ‘Daily Courant’ on 1 February 1707 that ‘for want of Subscriptions, and on account of his Health, is oblig’d to desist’. Fortunately for us the plates were collected by David Mortier (fl.1696-1721), who was a map, print and book seller and brother to the well-known map maker in Amsterdam Pieter Mortier. He imported a considerable amount of his material from his brother amongst other largely Dutch sources. David Mortier became a naturalised English subject on 10 July 1696 and from 1705 was in business at Erasmus’s Head, near the Savoy in the Strand.
This series of views is an outstanding survey of the English country house of the period. It was published at a time of increasing commercial prosperity, its wealth encouraging the construction of so many of these estates.
The first part of the ‘Britannia Illustrata’ was published by Mortier in 1707 and contained 80 fine views. It is a superb series on the Augustan country house, its parks, and gardens, bringing together earlier Dutch inspired works with the emerging Palladian style. This example of the first volume includes the double page plate 24* of Hatfield House by Thomas Sadler Junior. Although called for it is sometimes lacking. Eleven of the plates illustrate London and its environs.
By 1709 the work had expanded to a second part including a further 64 plates. From 1711 to 1721 Mortier worked in Amsterdam following the death of his brother, helping his widow run the business. He left his manager Peter Dunoyer to run the London business. A near neighbour Joseph Smith (fl. 1707-31) appears to have become involved helping to expand the work.
A second volume issued in 1714 begins with a large folding panorama of the city of London in its first state before the addition of Joseph Smith’s imprint. It is one of a pair, the view of Westminster appearing in the third volume. Together they form one magnificent large panorama, ‘the two best panoramic views from the South Bank to be published since those by Hollar and by Morgan of the previous century’ (Adams). This image is drawn from a high point in Southwark and depicts London from the Temple to the Tower of London. The scene is dominated by St. Paul’s Cathedral, rebuilt following the Great Fire of London and only completed in 1710. London Bridge dominates the foreground. Less notable on the river is ‘The Folly’, a floating coffee house once frequented by Queen Mary and her court. Over time however, it fell into disrepute.
This is followed by a series of very fine engravings of the Cathedrals of England including a fine series of St. Paul’s Cathedral. There is a double-page prospect of Cambridge, large foldout views of Oxford (later replaced by a reduced version), the Royal Hospitals at Chelsea and Greenwich. Double page views of Plymouth and Portsmouth had only just been published by Thomas ‘Bridge’ Taylor in a series of views of the ports dedicated to Queen Anne.
The volume is concluded by the 8-sheet ‘Genealogical and Chronological Table of the Royal Line of England’ first published by S. Gellibrand and David Mortier in 1706. Made up, it measures 2050 x 1220 mm. It is flanked by 32 portraits engraved by Henry Hulsbergh (fl.1702-29).
The third volume is made up of two parts. The first commences with the matching panorama of Westminster. A fine large folding view of the Royal Park of St. James extends from Buckingham House on the left to Charing Cross. A similarly large foldout of Kensington Palace follows. A small collection on Windsor Castle includes a magnificent large foldout view from the river. A similar one on Hampton Court is followed by several fine double page views of major houses including Buckingham House. This was built in 1703 for John Sheffield, 1st Duke of Buckingham and sold to George III for £21,000 in 1751. He acquired it as a family home for Queen Charlotte.
This is followed by a Scottish section with a large folding north prospect of Edinburgh and 20 plates from John Slezer’s ‘Theatrum Scotiae’. Dutch in origin, Slezer settled in Scotland in 1669. From about 1678 he began etching a series of the principal towns and palaces of the kingdom. The ‘Theatrum Scotiae’ was first published in 1693. The second edition of 1710 included many views that were not included in the first. This included an Edinburgh panorama dedicated to Marquees of Annandale. In 1714 Andrew Johnston engraved a larger version which was first published here in the ‘Nouveau Theatre’. A second state appeared with Smith’s imprint in the 1719 edition of the ‘Theatrum Scotiae’.
Bound into the third book is the rare ‘Atlas Anglois’, being referred to on the general title to that volume. It is often lacking. Despite being the first edition under this title the plates are a mix of earlier Dutch county maps by Joannes Blaeu (19) and Joannes Jansson (20). Some of the plates of Blaeu, first published in 1645 appear to have survived the disastrous fire at the printing house in 1672. Those of Jansson, first published complete in 1646, passed to his son-in-law Janssonius van Waesberghe and then through his heirs to Pieter Schenk (1661-1711) and Gerard Valck (1652-1726).
Hodson discusses the issue of the mix of plates by Blaeu and Jansson. The complete set of Jansson plates was available, as it was issued so in 1724 by Joseph Smith. Mortier most likely already possessed the Blaeu plates and used them where feasible, making up the difference with those of Jansson acquired later. Hodson concluded that it would be reasonable to assume that just these 19 Blaeu plates survived the fire of 1672.
The fact that the Blaeu plates were already in his possession explains why he only had an interest in acquiring the missing counties by Jansson. Despite the lack of uniformity, it clearly was a financial decision. Hodson did not note however, that Hampshire and Staffordshire are not recorded on any map. This omission is not easily explained.
By this date, the Jansson plates had undergone some revision. All now included the Amsterdam imprint of Pieter Schenk and Gerard Valck. It is clear Mortier added the plate numbers as although they follow roughly Camden’s order, they are sequentially numbered. This is despite a few counties appearing in pairs and the addition of some maps of Welsh counties, although Jansson’s plates of North and South Wales were present. Again, it should be noted that there is no numeration for the missing Hampshire or Staffordshire.
Following the addition of plate numbers, a graticule was added to the Blaeu plate of Shropshire alone. This is evidenced by the example in the British Library which bears the plate number only. Indeed, 6 of the Jansson plates also lack any graticule: Gloucestershire-Monmouthshire, Nottinghamshire, North Wales, South Wales, Herefordshire, and Cumberland-Westmoreland. This is an early issue of the atlas as 12 of the Blaeu still omit an engraved plate number which is present in manuscript.
An exceptionally crisp, complete large paper copy of the ‘Nouveau Theatre de la Grande Bretagne’ and the ‘Atlas Anglois’, with all the engravings called for by the tables of plates and in magnificent Dutch vellum binding. A superb record not just of country seats but also palaces and urban views. Few surviving sets of the work include the ‘Atlas Anglois’.
With bookplate of Snelston Hall pasted inside upper covers. Snelston Hall was built in 1827 by John Harrison (1782-) a successful lawyer. The house was one of several victims of the post-Second World War austerity taxation which destroyed so many country estates. It was demolished in 1952 following the sale of its contents.
Catalogue of Printed Books Comprising a Country House Library of English Literature, Sport, Travel, Topography, Botany, History, Etc. The Majority in unusually sound old bindings, The Property of Lt.-Col. J. P. Stanton, Snelston Hall, Ashbourne, Derby, sold Sotheby’s 14 February 1949 lot 212 for £68 to Maggs; Sotheby’s 13 April 1989 lot 175 to W. Graham Arader; Sotheby’s New York 2 June 1995 lot 219 for to Donald Heald. Acquired from Heald at the London Book Fair 1 July 1995. References: Adams (1983) 22; Barrott (2000) p.16; Berlin Catalogue 2328; refer Chubb (1927) 81; Clayton (1997) pp. 3, 9, 12, 21, 52-4, 75-6; Hodson (1984) 131; Hyde (1985) pp. 19, 62-71, nos. 18-24; Lowndes III nos. 1277-8; ODNB; Russell (1979) p. 28; refer Shirley (2004) T.Smi 1a; Worms & Baynton-Williams (2011).
Nouveau Theatre de la Grande Bretagne ... Atlas Anglois