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NATTES, John Claude.

Bath, illustrated by a Series of Views, ...

from the Drawings of John Claude Nattes; with Descriptions of each Plate.

Availability: In stock

Published: London William Miller; & Bristol: William Sheppard, 1806

Stock Code: 63958

OR On display in 100 Fulham Road


First edition, a very good, complete copy - "The half-title is frequently missing. Some copies have the vignettes uncoloured" (Tooley). Abbey suggests that although no precedence can be proved "it is probable that the coloured vignettes were issued after the completion of the parts as an extra inducement to prospective purchasers. The comparative scarcity of the book would appear to argue for a limited circulation". Wonderful suite of plates of the sights and scenery, architecture and attractions, of the city: Royal Crescent, North and South Parades, the Pump Room, exterior and interior, and Robert Adam's Pulteney Bridge - probably at the very pinnacle of its popularity as a fashionable resort. The images are exactly contemporaneous with Jane Austen's residence there (her family lived at four different addresses in Bath between 1801 and 1806; for three years they were at Sydney Place, part of the development of Sir William Pultneney's Bathwick estates, planned and designed by Thomas Baldwin, the hotel, pleasure gardens and bridges shown in plates 14, 15, and 29) but she is an oddly ambivalent patron saint of the city. She wrote to her sister Cassandra of her feelings of "happy escape" when the family moved out to the suburb of Clifton, and in 1813 bemoaned that "Bath is still Bath". But Catherine Morland the heroine of Northanger Abbey, Austen's Bath novel, is made to exclaim; "Oh! Who can ever be tired of Bath?" It surely had its attractions for many. Born around 1765 Nattes is known as a topographical draughtsman, watercolourist, and drawing master. "Nattes had been a pupil of the Irish artist Hugh Primrose Dean. Joseph Farington recorded in his diary in 1787 that Nattes was a Frenchman and that he had been a servant of Dean's in Rome" (ODNB). He developed a reputation for topographical subjects, receiving a commission from Sir Joseph Banks to record the buildings of Lincolshire, for example. He exhibited widely, and in 1804 was one of the founder members of the Society of Painters in Water Colours. But, the event for which Nattes is most often remembered, "and which has undoubtedly coloured his reputation, was his expulsion in 1807 from the Old Watercolour Society for exhibiting other people's works as his own. Surprisingly, there does not appear to be any contemporary account of the incident and it does not seem to have affected his subsequent career." His work is seen by some modern critics as being somewhat limited in range, and "as one would expect from a drawing master" of variable quality, but his views were certainly popular at the time, and assuredly do provide "a vast source of material of great value to the researcher of pre-Victorian topography and social history." The present work certainly brings the bon ton Bath of the Regency to life. Uncommon, and highly attractive.

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Folio (451 x 321 mm). Skilfully rebound to style in green straight-grained half calf, red morocco label, spine gilt banded and with gilt geometrical roundels in compartments, marbled sides,


28 hand-coloured aquatint plates, similar vignette to the title page, near full-page illustration to the last leaf.


Externally close to fine, light toning throughout, very occasional light spotting, marginal finger-soiling, minimal offset, last leaf a little stained in the upper margin, and with one or two short edge-splits, neat archival tissue repairs. A very good copy, with the half-title bound in. Plates and text watermarked 1801.


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