London: R. Blamire, 1792. 8vo. xxxiv, xiv, 238; 264, xiv pp. (pages xv and xvi misbound, found after p. xxxii in preface to Volume I), including index and erra. THIRD EDITION. With 30 aquatint plates. Contemporary tree calf with gilt border, gilt spine re-backed in later calf, marbled endpapers; a good, clean copy. Item #15214
Third edition of this significant work by Gilpin that considerably influenced the development of the concept of “picturesque moment.” This travelogue and observations on the beauty of the Scottish landscape, particularly in Cumberland and Westmoreland, was written fifteen years prior to the publication of the first edition in 1789. The two volume set is part of a larger collection of Gilpin’s travel journals and sketches of the British landscape. Gilpin shows his talent for picturesque description in words, paying particular attention to British ruins and thus establishing a romantic appreciation for such British landmarks such as Scaleby Castle. “With this work, and the others in his Observations series, he successfully laid the initial ground work for aesthetic perception for the next generation of picturesque artists and writers” (DAH). The aquatint plates, by Joseph Farrington, heighten the importance of this work in the beginnings of the picturesque movement: “Indeed Mr. Farrington’s prints render any other portraits of the lakes unnecessary. They are by far, in the author’s opinion, the most accurate, and beautiful views of that romantic country, which he hath seen” (preface, p. xxvii).
Gilpin (1724-1804), a clergyman, writer, and artist, was one of the founding fathers of the concept of the “picturesque” which first appeared in his renowned Essay on prints. As the headmaster of Cheam in Surrey, he became known for his innovations in educational reform by instituting a series of fines which were spent on school improvements such as the library. He was also known for incorporating physical activity and aesthetic appreciation in to the daily lives of his pupils. Gilpin would journal and sketch his adventures during the summer holidays, which he was convinced to publish many years later.