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Dissertation Sur Les Prototypes De L'Architecture, Indienne, Moresque, Et Gothique A Dissertation On The Prototypes Of Architecture, Hindoo, Moorish, And Gothic.

RA Collection: Book

Record number


Variant Title

Dissertation On The Prototypes Of Architecture, Hindoo, Moorish, And Gothic


(London:: [s.n.],, 1787.)

Physical Description

[2], 6, [2] p., [2] pl.; 586×815 mm. (Oblong broadsheet.)

General Note

Of the five broadsheet leaves carrying letter-press text the first (carrying the French and English dedications) and the last (carrying French and English explanations of the two plates) are unnumbered. The central three leaves (carrying the French and English texts of the dissertation) carry page-numbers [1]-6, which are printed twice on each page, once above the French text (left) and once above the English text (right). The texts are printed in such a way that if the sheets are left as broadsheets the two texts may be read in continuous sequence in parallel, with the page-numbers also in correct sequence. But if the broadsheets are folded (as they have been in the Royal Academy's copy), the pages of text appear in the nonsensical order, 2, [1], [1], 2; 4, 3, 3, 4; 6, 5, 5, 6.


[Dedic. in French and English] - [Text in French and English] - [Plates, and explan. letterpress in French and English].

Responsibility Note

The name of the author, William Hodges, is given in the dedication.

The two plates are signed as 'Drawn on the Spot & Painted' by Hodges and as engraved by Browne [i.e. John Browne ARA] or Morris [i.e. Thomas Morris].

Each carries the publisher's imprint, 'Published May 1st. 1786 by W. Hodges, Queen Street, May Fair, London'. That showing Shere Shah's tomb carries also the imprint, 'Printed by Richards.'

The work is dedicated by William Hodges to Warren Hastings.


A study of Hodges is William Hodges 1744-1797: the art of exploration, ed. G. Quilley [exhibition catalogue] (2004).

Summary Note

No title-page is present in the Royal Academy's copy; and our title is the caption-title of the dissertation. The publication-date of 1787 is the date carried by the dedication; both plates carry the publication-date of 1786.

The letter-press text is printed in French and English in parallel throughout - the French at the left, the English at the right.

The two large plates are captioned in English, and show 'A View of the Gate of the Tomb of the Emperor Akbar, at Secundrii' and 'A View of the Tomb of the Emperor Shere Shah at Sasseram in Bahar'. The size of the plates (folded in the Academy's copy) and their technique are referred to by Hodges in his main text (p.2): 'The present publication is chiefly, and in particular, intended for larger views ... In my Aqua-Tinta publication they would have appeared on too small a scale, and without that force and precision which the engraving tool of eminent masters only can give'.

In this short dissertation Hodges asserts the value of forms of architecture other than the European forms derived from the ancient Greeks. 'I have not read Father Lodola's famous disputation on the absurdity of the misplaced and unprincipled imitation of Greek architecture; nor am I in the least prejudiced against its very great beauties and perfections ... but must I admire it in an exclusive manner?' He praises various 'primitive' dwellings - hollow trees ('into which even Kings of Ithaca and Great Britain have retired'), huts ('which we have seen in the South-Sea Islands'), wigwams and granite caverns ('the undeniable prototype of the lofty, semicircular dome, and of the arched vault, of which the hut of the Grecians could not suggest the idea'), and suggests that stone architecture brought to perfection in Egyptian, Hindoo, Moorish, and Gothic styles, is essentially 'one and the same, the spontaneous produce of genius in different countries'.

After his visit to India (1779-1783) Hodges became involved with the Royal Academy - an exhibitor in 1785, Associate in 1786 and full Member in 1787 - and it is interesting to find that in 1786 in his thirteenth Discourse the President of the Academy, Sir Joshua Reynolds, also suggests that Indian antiquities may be an inspiration to European architects.

In reduced format (and slightly revised text) Hodges republished this Dissertation as part of Chapter IV of his Travels In India, During The Years 1780, 1781, 1782, & 1783 (London, 1793), p.63-77.


Purchased from the author on 7 November 1788 for £2 2s. (see invoice for 'Number 1 of Hodges's Antiquities' made out to Sir William Chambers on that date).

Binding Note

20th-century calf, red and green morocco spine-labels lettered 'Hodges's Views In India' and 'II', spine lettered 'R.A.' Bound with Volume II of W. Hodges's Select Views In India (1785-88).

Name as Subject


Architecture - History
Architecture - India - History
Art history - Essays - Great Britain - 18th century


William Hodges RA, author, source artist
John Browne ARA, engraver
Thomas Morris, engraver
Warren Hastings, dedicatee
William Richards, intaglio printer

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