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Travels in the Two Sicilies … in the years 1777, 1778, 1779, and 1780.

Published: London: P. Elmsly, 1783-5

Stock code: 65638

Price: £3,000

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First edition. Scion of an old Catholic family, Swinburne was educated “at the monastic seminary at Lacelle, France, the University of Paris, Bordeaux, and finally the Royal Academy in Turin, where he developed a keen interest in the arts” (ODNB). By 1763 he had inherited the family estates following the death of his older brother, and, now financially independent, he married, and settled in Hamsterley, Co. Durham, “where Henry laid out the garden, combining ‘the classic precision of the Italian style with the more wild and sylvan boldness of English park scenery'” (H. Swinburne, Courts of Europe, quoted in ODNB). But tiring of English country life the family returned to Europe. In 1775 Swinburne toured Spain with fellow Catholic Sir Thomas Gascoigne, an account was published in 1779, then, reunited with his family, “sailed to Naples and from 1777 until early 1779 toured the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. They returned to England in July 1779 via Vienna, Frankfurt, and Brussels, but remained for only a few months before leaving once again for Italy. They spent 1780 in Italy and Vienna. As lovers of the arts and Roman Catholics, they mixed with the literati throughout their travels, and were favoured by Catholic sovereigns.” Although a contemporary reviewer considered the present work “dull and meagre,” Ingamells has described it as “a comprehesive history and travel guide” (A Dictionary of British and Irish Travellers in Italy), and Druène commends “the simplicity and the lack of affectation in his travel accounts … he was one of the first to relish travel for its own sake” (Le premier romantique? Swinburne aux Pyrénées).

2 volumes, quarto (294 234 mm). Contemporary half calf, rebacked with the original spines laid down, title direct to the spines, ruled compartments, marbled sides. Folding engraved map frontispiece to volume I, together with a folding genealogical table, 6 engraved plates and 2 plans; volume II with 14 plates including large folding views of Palermo and Messina, and 2 etchings. The plates from Swinburne’s ‘accomplished drawings.’ Ruggles-Brise armorial bookplates for Spains Hall to the front pastedowns. Somewhat rubbed, professionally restored, contents clean and sound with good margins, the last leaf, index and Directions to the Binder from volume I bound at the end of volume II, and from p423 onwards of volume II bound at the conclusion of volume I.

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