An Essay on the Utility of Collecting the Best Works of the Ancient Engravers of the Italian School; Accompanied by a Critical Catalogue.

An Essay on the Utility of Collecting the Best Works of the Ancient Engravers of the Italian School; Accompanied by a Critical Catalogue.
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London: Printed by W. Nicol, Cleveland-Row, 1827. Oblong 4to, [12, frontispiece, t-p, preface, contents], 536, [4] pp. (4) plates bound in at rear after the appendix. Modern quarter green morocco over green-cloth covered boards. Backstrip with title and imprint stamped in gilt, otherwise modestly stamped and ruled in blind with (6) compartments. All edges gilt. Internally excellent though the frontis is a bit foxed. Perforation punch of NWU at foot of A3. Armorial bookplate of Thomas Philip Earl de Gray on front pastedown.Very good. First edition. Cumberland’s admirable attempt to: A) describe “all the prints I have or know from actual inspection, and their measurement, from the earliest time of the Italian masters, down to the School of Bologna;” B) “[to create] a list of all those which I have not seen, or do not possess, and which are asserted to be existing;” and C) “to obtain the most complete enumeration of all the brilliant stars comprising this interesting hemisphere of art” (introduction).” His is a fascinating and essentially neoclassical and nationalist treatment, using the Italian Masters as a conduit between the late-Georgian and early Victorian British artists to the pinnacles of Ancient Greek and Roman art. To study after these artists, rather than “learned pedants [such as Durer]...who lack grace, expression, sentiment and poetic composition,” is to claim the rightful British inheritance as masters Western civilization. Printed just 10 years after the acquisition the so-called Elgin marbles. (Item Id: 104895)

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