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An Essay Upon Prints: Containing Remarks upon the Principles of picturesque Beauty, The Different Kinds of Prints, And The Characters of the most noted Masters; Illustrated By Criticisms upon particular Pieces; To which are added, Some Cautions that may be useful in collecting Prints. [Epigraph from Vergil.]

RA Collection: Book

Record number



London:: Printed for J. Robson, Bookseller to the Princess Dowager of Wales, at the Feathers, in New Bond Street., M DCC LXVIII.

Physical Description

[2], iv, 4, [2], 249, [13] p. ; 169 mm. (Octavo.)

General Note

Pages 44, 45 are misnumbered as 45, 46. Pages 81-96 are misnumbered as 77-92.


[T.p.] - The Preface - Explanation of Terms - The Contents - [Text] - Errata - Index.


ESTC, T94038
M. Andrews, The Picturesque: literary sources and documents (3 v., 1994).

Summary Note

In the third edition, of 1781, the author was revealed to be Revd. William Gilpin.

The work was well received both in Britain (where it went through five editions by 1802) and elsewhere in Europe. Besides Gilpin's opinions on various print-makers it contains the first, vague outline of his ideas on the Picturesque.


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


Acquired for RA Library between 1841 and 1864 (see MS. listing in interleaved master copy of 1841 RA Library printed catalogue [07/2940], facing p. 44).

Copy Note

The title-page has the word 'Gilpin's' inscribed in ink above the title. A note inscribed in ink on a preliminary leaf lists the works bound together in this volume: 'Contents - Gilpin's Essay upon Prints ... Strange's descriptive catalogue ... Remarks on 12 historical designs of Raphael ... Essay on design in Gardening 1768'.

Binding Note

19th-century half calf, marbled-papered boards; rebacked in 1988, retaining earlier spine-piece, red morocco spine-label lettered 'Gilpin's Essay On Prints. - Strange's Catalogue.' Bound with three others.


Engraving - Engravings - Prints - Engravers - Printmakers - Artists - Europe - History
Drawing - Great Britain - 18th century - Picturesque, the
Essays - Art history - Art criticism - Great Britain - 18th century


William Gilpin
James Robson, publisher, bookseller