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The Microcosm of London.

Availability: In stock

Published: London R. Ackermann's Repository of Arts, [1808-10]

Stock Code: 62650

OR On display in 43 Dover Street


First edition, early issue with a number of the plates in their first state. "Ackermann's The Microcosm of London... is a book of major importance. The architectural drawings were by Augustus Charles Pugin, a French refugee who came to London in about 1798, 'driven from his country either by the horrors of the French Revolution or by private reasons connected with a duel'... His lasting fame rests on his consummate ability as an architectural draughtsman. By a stroke of genius Ackermann engaged Thomas Rowlandson to add human figures to the drawings that Pugin made for The Microcosm, so that the stately, accurate and dignified qualities of that artist are enlivened by the vitality and charm of Regency life as depicted by one of the most vigorous draughtsmen of all time. To turn the leaves of The Microcosm is to take a walk though London at a singularly fortunate moment, observing, as we never can in real life, the scenes of many celebrated incidents in English literature and history: the India House of Charles Lamb, the King's Bench Prison of Dickens, the Foundling Hospital of Captain Coram and Hogarth, the Guildhall bombed by the Luftwaffe, the Newgate of Harrison Ainsworth, the Carlton House of the Prince Regent and so forth" (Alan G. Thomas, Great Books and Book Collectors, 1975, p. 155).

The Microcosm offers an incomparable panorama of Regency London both high and low, from sedate drawing rooms to the brawling and boozing street life of the metropolis, captured in matchless hand-coloured aquatint by the inspired pairing of Pugin and Rowlandson.

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3 volumes, quarto (332 x 265 mm). Contemporary brown calf rebacked, spines gilt in compartments, green and red morocco labels, floral roll and cornerpieces to boards gilt, marbled endpapers.


Engraved title and dedication page to each volume, 104 hand-coloured plates.


Bindings rubbed and scuffed, wear to corners, contents lightly tanned, offsetting from plates, small rectangular piece cut from front blank of volume I. A very good set.


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