Anglo-Norman Antiquities considered, in a Tour through Part of Normandy.London: Printed for the Author by T. Spilsbury, 1767 Stock Code: 141932
"The first Englishmen to see and realise the importance of the Bayeux tapestry"First edition and only edition of this "pioneer study of comparative mediaeval architecture" (ODNB), which importantly drew attention to the Bayeux Tapestry, containing one of the earliest detailed accounts of it, illustrated with seven finely engraved plates, one of them folding. A handsome copy with a fine noble provenance.
Born in Paris of Norman parents, Ducarel (17131785), fled Huguenot persecution with his family in 1718. He was educated at Eton, Oxford and Cambridge and was said to have "had a deep-seated desire to be more English than the English". Admitted to the College of Advocates in 1743, and leased a house in the Commons complex, where he worked for the rest of his life. He served as librarian of Doctors' Commons,17547, and as treasurer, 175761. He was admitted a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1737, taking an active part in their meetings at the Mitre Tavern and developing particular interest in architecture and numismatics.
The trip on which the present work was based was undertaken in 1752, Ducarel made an architectural tour of Lower Normandy and visited his uncle at the family château of Muids and other relatives in Paris. "He was one of the first Englishmen to see and realise the importance of the Bayeux tapestry". He worked up a brief, unillustrated, account published in 1754, but a dozen years later, realising the fundamental importance of the material, made the decision to elaborate upon it. Leaving out the more personal detail he added material supplied by his brother James who had returned to live in France and visited many of the places his brother had seen earlier, commissioning drawings and engravings of them. He also included the appendix of plates of the Bayeux tapestry, originally published in Montfaucon's Les Monumens de la monarchie Françoise, together with a detailed explanation by fellow Huguenot, Old Etonian FSA Smart Letheuiller.
"Ducarel's lasting importance is as a historian of Anglo-Norman architecture on the one hand, and as Lambeth's first professional librarian on the other". Made librarian in 1757 he was "Lambeth's first lay librarian and the longest-serving, working for five archbishops during twenty-eight years... He laid the foundations of the present-day library. He found considerable chaos and disorder and an imperfect and partial catalogue... His monument, among the many indexes and catalogues that bear his name, remains the forty-eight volumes of epitomes of the archiepiscopal registers from Peccham to Potter...".
From the library of Charles William Vane (formerly Stewart), third marquess of Londonderry (17781854), with his elaborate bookplate; his arms, with hussar supporters, including his many military awards. Londonderry took the surname Vane on marrying Frances Anne Emily Vane-Tempest in 1819. A brave but not particularly brilliant soldier - Sir John Moore described him as "a very silly fellow" - Vane served with variable distinction throughout the Peninsular War. His Narrative of the War (1828), based on his correspondence with his half-brother Lord Castlereagh, was not uncontroversial. His dashing and dandified portrait by Sir Thomas Lawrence is at the National Portrait Gallery.
Folio (414 x 260 mm). Contemporary tree calf, red morocco label to spine, low bands and board edges milled gilt, compartments gilt with bird on branch centre-tool with matching corner-pieces, gilt helical twist panel to the boards,edges stained yellow, grey-green and pink shell marble endpapers.
20 copper-engraved plates, 3 of them folding, and 7 engravings to the text.
A little rubbed, corners bumped, a few small scuffs and strips from the boards, corner torn from the first blank, plates very lightly browned, pale toning to the text, a very good copy, presents well.
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