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A Dissertation On Oriental Gardening; By Sr William Chambers, Comptroller-General Of His Majesty's Works, &c. The Second Edition, With Additions. To Which Is Annexed, An Explanatory Discourse, By Tan Chet-Qua, of Quang-Chew-Fu, Gent.

Sir William Chambers RA

RA Collection: Book

Record number




London:: Printed by W. Griffin, Printer to the Royal Academy; sold by Him in Catherine-street; and by T. Davies, Bookseller to the Royal Academy, in Russel-Street, Covent-Garden: also by J. Dodsley, Pall-Mall; Wilson and Nicoll, Strand; J. Walter, Charing-Cross; and P. Elmsley, Strand., 1773.

Physical Description

[2], 163, [1] p., add. engr. t.pl., engr. dedic.: [2] illus.; 266 mm. (Quarto.)


[Add. engr. t.pl., t.p., engr. dedic.] - Preface - Dissertation - An Explanatory Discourse, By Tan Chet-Qua ... .

Responsibility Note

Tan Chet-Qua was a portrait-modeller from Guandong, who was in London from 1769 to 1796; but it is believed that the Explanatory Discourse attributed to him here was written by Chambers.

The two illustrations are signed as drawn by G.B. Cipriani and engraved by F. Bartolozzi.

The work is dedicated by William Chambers to the King (George III).


ESTC, T1905
E. Harris and N. Savage, British Architectural Books (1990), 118.
R. Quaintance, 'Toward distinguishing among theme park publics: William Chambers's landscape theory vs. his Kew practice', in T. Young and R. Riley, edd., Theme park landscapes (2002), p.25-47.
P. Conner, 'China and the landscape garden: reports, engravings and misconceptions', in Art history, II:4 (1979 December), p. 429-440.
E. Harris, 'Burke and Chambers on the sublime and beautiful', in Essays in the history of architecture presented to Rudolf Wittkower (1967), p. 207-13.
H.F. Clark, 'Eighteenth century elysiums: the role of Association in the landscape movement', in Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, 6 (1943), p.165-89.
I.W. Chase, 'William Mason and Sir William Chambers' Dissertation on oriental gardening', in Journal of English and Germanic Philology, 35 (1936), p.517-29.
E. Harris, `Designs of Chinese buildings and the Dissertation on Oriental Gardening’, in J. Harris, Sir William Chambers: Knight of the Polar Star (1970), p.143-162

Summary Note

The publication-date is given on the title-page as 1773. The added engraved title-plate, carrying the date 1772, had been the title-plate of the first edition, which had no letter-press title-page.

Fr. J.D. Attiret's A particular account of the Emperor of China's gardens (1752; first published in French in 1749) had greatly interested Europeans in Chinese garden-design; but Chambers had seen them for himself, and preferred their variety to the informal but 'insipid' lay-outs of Capability Brown. This second edition was published in April 1773 to answer criticisms voiced in William Mason's Heroic Epistle, published earlier that year. The work was also published in French (1772-3) and German (1775), and on the continent had a wide influence.

The two illustrations consist of a vignette on the added engraved title-plate (showing allegorical figures), and a head-piece on the engraved dedication (showing a medal, the obverse having the head of King George III, the reverse the river front of Old Somerset House in the Strand).


A facsimile was published in 1978 (Los Angeles: University of California, Los Angeles, William Andrews Clark Memorial Library).

Binding Note

20th-century quarter calf, marbled-papered boards; gilt-decorated spine, red morocco spine-label lettered 'Oriental Gardening - Chambers'.


Gardens - Garden structures - China - History
Treatises - Great Britain - 18th century


James Dodsley, 1724-1797, bookseller
David Wilson, d. 1777, bookseller
George III King of Great Britain, dedicatee
Giovanni Battista Cipriani RA, draughtsman
Francesco Bartolozzi RA, engraver
William Griffin, printer, bookseller
Thomas Davies, bookseller
John Walter, bookseller
Peter Elmsley, bookseller
Tan Chet-Qua

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