A Set Of Prints Engraved after the most capital Paintings In the Collection of Her Imperial Majesty, The Empress of Russia Lately in the Possession of the Earl Of Orford At Houghton in Norfolk; With Plans, Elevations, Sections, Chimney Pieces & Ceilings. Vol: I (II)

RA Collection: Book

Record number



London: Published by John & Josiah Boydell, Jany. 1st. MDCCLXXXVIII.

Physical Description

2 vols.; 679 mm. (Broadsheet.)

General Note

Vol. I: 5, [1] p., engr. t.pl., engr. dedic., frontis., 28 pl. on [19] leaves, [60] pl. on [51] leaves. - Vol. II: 5, [1] p., engr. t.pl., frontis., [69] pl. on [57] leaves. - (In both volumes the plates of the paintings do not carry numbers, but in 'A List Of Prints ...' are assigned numbers I-LX in Volume I and I-LXIX in Volume II. In some cases two prints are printed on one leaf. Several are pasted in. There is one dble. pl. (pl. [51] in Vol. II). The title-plate vignettes are both pasted in.)


Vol. I: [Frontis.(port.), t.pl., engr. dedic.] - [Plates] - [English and French parallel texts, 'A List Of Prints Contained In Volume The First ...', 'Catalogue Des Estampes ... Le Premier Volume ...']; Errata / Fautes à Corriger. - Vol. II: [Frontis.(port.), t.pl.] - [Plates] - [Parallel English and French text, 'A List Of Prints, Contained In Volume The Second ...' / 'Catalogue Des Estampes ... Le Second Volume ...'].

Responsibility Note

The frontispiece portrait of Volume I is signed as painted by Rosselin [i.e. Alexander Roslin] and engraved by Caroline Watson; it carries the publishers' imprint of John and Josiah Boydell (and the date, Sep 1 1787). That of Volume II is signed as painted by Vanloo and engraved by James Watson, and carries the imprint of John and Josiah Boydell (and the date, Jan 1 1788). The plates all carry the name of the source-artist, and most are signed by draughtsmen (Joseph Farington, Josiah Boydell, George Farington, Richard Earlom) and engravers (James Mason, Val. Green, J.B. Michel, P.C. Canot, John Browne and Bartolozzi, Richard Earlom, W. Byrne, John Browne, James Peake, Josiah Boydell, J.K. Sherwin, Spilsbury, James Watson, William Pether, D. Lerpiniere, John Murphy, G.S. and J.G. Facius, S.F. Ravenet, Picot, Poilly, Robert Dunkarton, John Hall, James Fittler, White, L. Sailliar, William Walker, Aliamet, F. Vivares, C. West, Francis Legat, C.H. Hodges, William Sharp, Peter Simon, James Heath, Riott, Charles Townley, F. Bartolozzi, P.V. Gunst). Each carries the publisher's imprint - either of John Boydell (and dates) or of John and Josiah Boydell (with dates from 1787 Sep 1 onwards).

The plates of plans, elevations etc. are signed as drawn by I. Ware, T. Ripley or W. Kent, and engraved by P. Fourdrinier or I. Ware; and each carries the publisher's imprint of John Boydell (and the date, 1784).

The engraved title-plates and the engraved dedication are signed as scripted by Tomkins and engraved by Ashby. The two vignettes pasted onto the engraved title-plates are signed as painted by G.B. Cipriani, engraved by F. Bartolozzi and published by J. and J. Boydell (with the date June 2 1788).

The work is dedicated by John Boydell to Catherine II, Empress of Russia.


ESTC, T155309
Royal Institute of British Architects, British Architectural Library ... Early printed books, 4 (2001), no. 3585, p.2362-3 [mainly on the plans, elevations &c.].
L. Dukelskaya and A. Moore, A capital collection: Houghton Hall and the Hermitage [exhibition catalogue] (2002).
B. Donald, 'Walpole's pictures revisit England', in Contemporary review, 136 no. 1643 (2002)
G. Rubinstein, 'The genesis of John Boydell's Houghton gallery', in A. Moore, ed., Houghton Hall: the Prime Minister, the Empress and the heritage (1996), p.65-73
G.M. Rubinstein, 'Richard Earlom (1743-1822) and Boydell's "Houghton gallery"', in Print quarterly, 8:1 (1991 March), p.2-27
D. Sutton, 'Aspects of British collecting: the age of Sir Robert Walpole', in Apollo, 114 (1981), p.328-39.

Summary Note

The publication date of 1788 is carried by both title-plates, but most plates carry earlier publication-dates - of 1774 (3 plates), 1775 (18 pl.), 1776 (7 pl.), 1777 (9 pl.), 1778 (20 pl.), 1779 (14 pl.), 1780 (8 pl.), 1781 (13 pl.), 1782 (5 pl.), 1783 (5 pl.), 1784 (4 pl.), 1785 (6 pl.), 1787 (4 pl. and frontis. of vol. I), 1788 (5 pl. and frontis of vol. II and t.pl. vignettes of vols. I, II). The last three plates of Vol. II do not carry publication-dates (they are reprints of plates originally published in 1716). The plates of the plans, elevations &c. carry the date of 1784 (reprints of the 1760 edition, they were also probably available separately).

This publication is one of a series made by John Boydell with the intention of raising the status of print-making in Britain. He had earlier published A Collection Of Prints Engraved After The Most Capital Paintings In England (1769-72); and in 1773 Horace Walpole already found Houghton 'full of painters ... making drawings from the whole collection, which Boydell is going to engrave'. The collection had been assembled by Prime Minister Sir Robert Walpole. It included works by Van Dyck, Rubens, Maratti, Poussin and Guido Reni, and a version of Velázquez's portrait of Pope Innocent X. Shortly after his death part of it had been sold - in two sales by his son (1748 May and September) and one by his grandson (1751 June). When Boydell began his project, a fourth sale was expected; and by August 1779 the greater part of the collection was bought by the Empress Catherine II of Russia. It is clear from the publication-dates on the plates that over half of them were made in the five years before the sale and the rest in the nine years afterwards. The collection was almost the last large acquisition made by the empress, who had earlier bought collections of Gotzkowsky, Brühl, Cobenzl, Ligne and Crozat; in 1783 she added the collection of S.R. Baudoin.

The plates show 129 pictures from the collection. The frontispieces are portraits - of the Empress Catherine II, by Rosselin (Vol. I), and Sir Robert Walpole, by Vanloo (Vol. II). The painters shown are Swanevelt (vol. I. pl. 1), Willibert (v.I:2), Van Dyke (v.I: 3, 4, 16, 42, 47, 48, 50, II: 11, 12, 23, 36, 64, 67, 68, 69), C. Procaccini (v.I:5), L. Caracci (v.I:6), Leonardo (v.I:7), Salvator Rosa (v.I: 8, 40, 55, II: 32, 60), Claude (v.I: 9), P. Brill (v.I:10), P. Brill and Domenichino (v.I:11), Snyders and Long John (v.I:12, 13, II: 49, 50), Wootton (v. I: 14, 56, II: 22, 39, 40), G. Kneller (v.I:15), A. Sacchi (v.I:17), C. Cignani (v.I:18, II:17), Gaspar Poussin (v.I: 19, 20, 51, 52, II: 41), M. le Vos (v.I:21), Teniers (v.I:22, 53, II: 16, 26), Rubens (v.I:23, 49, 57, II:5, 21, 37, 51, 57), Morellio (v.I: 24, 25, 45, 46), F. Boll (v.I:26), P. da Cortona (v.I:27, II: 25), Rosa di Tivoli (v.I: 28, 29), Dobson (v.I:30), Velasco (v.I:31, II:15), M. Ponzoni (v.I:32), P. Lilly (v.I:33, II: 63), Rembrandt (v.I:34, II: 33), Bourgognone (v.I:35, 36), Jervase (v.I:37, 38), F. Halls (v.I:39), M. Angelo Campidoglio (v.I:41, II: 45), Old Wyck (v.I:43), N. Beretoni (v.I:44, II: 46), Ostade (v.I:54), Titian (v.I:58), Van Huysom (v.I:59, 60), L. Giordano (v.II:1, 2, 66), M. de Fiori (II:3), G. Reni (II:4, 48, 58), A. More (II:6), Romanelli (II:7), C. Maratti (II:8, 24, 47, 61, 62), Le Sueur (II:9, 38), Le Brun (II:10), C. Dolci (II:13, 14), N. Poussin (II:18, 52, 53), Jacques Jordans (II: 19), Vanderwerffe (II:20), J. Miel (II: 27), Castiglione (II: 28, 29), Rotenhammer (II: 30), S. Conca (II: 31), E. Sirani (II: 34), Domenichino (II: 35), S. Bourdon (II: 42), Rosalba (II: 43, 44), Parmigiano (II: 54), Cantarini (II: 55), Alex. Veronese (II: 56), F. Lauri (II: 59), An. Carracci (II: 65). The two title-page vignettes are by G.B. Cipriani.

The paintings show Christian, historical, mythological, still-life, animal, portrait and genre subjects.

The engravings employ several techniques - most are mezzotints or line-engravings, seventeen are stipples and one is an aquatint.

A catalogue of the collection by Horace Walpole had been published earlier (Aedes Walpolianae, 1747 and later editions).


A microfilm version was published in 1986 (Woodbridge: CT Research Publications Inc.).

Copy Note

Imperfect: lacks the 28 plates [i.e. 19 leaves] of plans, elevations &c. of Houghton, and pl. [30] of Vol. I.

Binding Note

20th-century half calf, marbled-papered boards; spine lettered 'Prints From Houghton Collection I (II)', 'R.A.' and '1788'.

Name as Subject


Paintings, European - History
Collections - Great Britain - Norfolk - Houghton Hall - Russia - St. Petersburg - 18th century
Architecture - Country houses - Great Britain - Norfolk - Houghton Hall - 18th century
Catalogues - Great Britain - 18th century
Plans - Elevations - Great Britain - 18th century
Pictorial works - Great Britain - 18th century


Alexander Roslin, source artist
Caroline Watson, engraver
Joseph Farington RA, draughtsman
Josiah Boydell, draughtsman, engraver, publisher
George Farington, draughtsman
Richard Earlom, draughtsman, engraver
James Mason, engraver
Valentine Green ARA, engraver
Jean-Baptiste Michel, engraver
P.C. Canot ARA, engraver
John Browne ARA, engraver
Francesco Bartolozzi RA, engraver
William Byrne, engraver
James Peak, engraver
John Keyse Sherwin, engraver
Jonathan Spilsbury, engraver
James Watson, engraver
William Pether, engraver
Daniel Lerpinière, engraver
John Murphy, engraver
John Boydell, publisher
Thomas Tomkins, draughtsman
Harry Ashby, engraver
Catherine II Empress of Russia, dedicatee
Anthony Van Dyck, source artist
Peter Paul Rubens, source artist
Georg Siegmund Facius, engraver
Johann Gottlieb Facius, engraver
Ravenet, Simon François, engraver
Victor Marie Picot, engraver
Nicolas Jean-Baptiste de Poilly, engraver
Robert Dunkarton, engraver
John Hall, engraver
James Fittler ARA, engraver
Louis Sailliar, engraver
William Walker, engraver
François Vivares, engraver
Francis Legat, engraver
Charles Howard Hodges, engraver
William Sharp, engraver
John Peter Simon, engraver
James Heath ARA, engraver
Charles Townley, engraver
Francesco Bartolozzi RA, engraver
Pieter Stevens van Gunst, engraver
State Hermitage Museum (St. Petersburg)
J. and J. Boydell (London), publisher