CASTELL, Robert. The Villas of the Ancients illustrated.


London: for the author, 1728.



£ 4,500





FIRST EDITION. Folio (48.5 x 35.3 cm); [8], 128, [2] pp.; pp. 81, 82 are misnumbered as 57, 58. With 13 engraved plates, including 6 double-page; 4 illustrations in the text; elaborate engraved head- and tail-pieces throughout. Text in English and Latin; double column; Italic and Roman type. Occasional dust soiling and some age toning; staining on plate C; otherwise internally clean and unmarked. Contemporary mottled calf binding; gilt tooling to covers; gilt spine divided in 8 compartments with raised bands. Some wear to covers and corners; spine rubbed. Overall, a very good copy, with beautiful engravings.




This work, which has been described by Fowler as ‘the first attempt at the theoretical restoration of ancient buildings’ is an influential work in the history of garden design, It was published posthumously after Castell had died of smallpox. The author concentrates on two villas described in some detail in the letters of Pliny the younger – that at Laurentium, on the coast near Ostia, and the Tusculum, in the Appennines.


Plates [1], [6], A-D and [11] are signed as engraved by P. Fourdrinier. Most head- and tail-pieces are signed as engraved by G. King. The work is dedicated by the author to Richard, Earl of Burlington.


Fowler, 67-68; Harris, 108; Millars, British, 11; cf. RIBA, 581.