A Treatise On The Five Orders Of Architecture, In Which The Principles Of That Art Are Illustrated By Elegant And Correct Examples, Representing The Most Approved Forms, Proportions, And Decorations, Peculiar To The Several Orders; As Exhibited In The Remains Of The Beautiful Edifices Of Antiquity; Composed In The Style Most Consonant To The Orders That Adorn The Magnificent Temples, Baths, Theatres, Amphitheatres, Basilicas, Triumphal Arches, And Other Ancient Buildings. Containing Twenty-Two Plates Engraved in Acquatinta, producing the Spirit and Effect of finished Drawings in Indian Ink; With complete Explanations in English and French, accompanied with Observations made on several of the Antiquities at Rome, and various Parts of Italy, at Pola in Istria, and the southern Provinces of France, in the Years 1760, 1761, 1762, 1nd 1763; By George Richardson, Architect. ... Traité Des Cinq Ordres D'Architecture, Où les principes de cet Art sont exposé dans tout leur jour, au moyen d'examples choisis et corrects qui représent le différens Ordres dans leur plus belle forme, suivant leurs meilleurs proportions, et avec les décorations qui leur sont particulières, d'après ce qui reste des plus beaux édifices de l'Antiquité ...

George Richardson

RA Collection: Book

Record number



Variant Title

Traité Des Cinq Ordres D'Architecture


London,: Printed For The Author, No. 105, Great Titchfield-Street, And Sold By Mr. George Nicol, Bookseller To His Majesty, No. 58, Pall-Mall., M DCC LXXXVII.

Physical Description

x, 32, [2] p., 22 pl.; 540 mm. (Folio).

General Note

In some copies the Advertisement is bound in after the plates.


[T.p., dedic.] - The Subscribers To The Treatise on the Orders of Architecture - Preface - Explanation of the Plates - Of Caryatids And Persians - Advertisement - [Plates]. - (Note: in some copies the Advertisement is bound in after the plates.)

Responsibility Note

All plates are signed as drawn and engraved by G. Richardson and Son (i.e. William Richardson).

The work is dedicated by the author 'To Thomas Sandby, Esq; R. A. Professor Of Architecture To The Royal Academy Of Arts, London'.


RIBA, Early printed books, 3 (1999), no. 2760, p.1647-8; National Gallery (Washington), Mark J. Millard, II (1998), 68; E. Harris and N. Savage, British Architectural Books (1990), 744; J. Archer, Literature of British domestic architecture (1985), 434.1; Life in England in aquatint and lithography ... library of J.R. Abbey (1953/R1972, 1991), 58.
ESTC, T90832

Summary Note

The publication-date of 1787 (March) is carried by the title page and plates 19-22; all other plates carry the date of December 1786.

The text is in both English and French - apart from the list of subscribers.

The plates show: 1-3. The orders, pedestals, impost and archivolts; 4-6. Tuscan order, intercolumniations, arches; 7-9. Doric order, intercolumnniations, arches; 10-13. Ionic order, intercolumniations, arches, volute to large scale, angular capital; 14-15. Corinthian order, intercolumniations; 16-18. Composite order, intercolumniations, arches, Corinthian arches; 19. Elevations of pilaster capitals to Corinthian and Composite orders; 20. Doors to Doric, Ionic and Corinthian orders; 21. Orders above orders; 22. Arches above arches.

The plates are fine aquatints - described by Richardson on his title-page as 'producing the Spirit and effect of finished Drawings' and in his Preface as 'suitable patterns for drawing'.

He intended this work to be an 'Introduction to ... Designs in Architecture'. He presents the orders with forms and proportions varied so that 'the ideas of the student should not be circumscribed' and that his 'collection of designs [be rendered] more pleasing than a repetition of the same forms and proportions'. He follows Chambers's Treatise on Civil Architecture (1759, 1768) in representing the orders at the same height, 'to render the comparison between them more easy'; and refers to Stuart and Revett's Antiquities of Athens for Greek examples, notably of the Ionic capital (pl. X).

As well as the Library of the Royal Academy the list of subscribers includes the names of several Academicians and Associates - John Bacon, Francis Bartolozzi, Sir William Chambers, Charles Catton, George Dance, Joseph Farington, William Hamilton, Francis Haward, Joseph Nollekens, John Francis Rigaud, T. Sandby, Dominick Serres, William Tyler, Benjamin West, James Wyatt and John Webber. It also includes the names of many practising craftsmen, such as carvers, gilders, cabinet-makers, carpenters, builders, surveyors, bricklayers, masons, upholsterers, modellers, printers and plasterers.


A microfilm was made by the British Library in 1988.


Purchased by the Royal Academy in 1787 (see 'RA Cashbook 1769-1795', entry dated [after 1 February] 1787: 'Richardson £1 11s. 6d.'). The Library of the Royal Academy is listed among the subscribers.

Binding Note

18th-century marbled-papered boards; 20th-century half calf, green morocco spine label lettered 'Richardson's Architecture'.


Architecture - Architectural orders - History
Manuals - Pattern books - Instructional materials - Treatises - Great Britain - 18th century
Pictorial works - Aquatints - Great Britain - 18th century


William Richardson, draughtsman, engraver
Thomas Sandby RA, dedicatee
George Nicol, bookseller
George Richardson, draughtsman, engraver
Royal Academy of Arts (London), Professor of Architecture (1768-1798: Sandby)., dedicatee