Iconology; Or, A Collection Of Emblematical Figures; Containing Four Hundred And Twenty-four Remarkable Subjects, Moral And Instructive; In Which Are Displayed The Beauty Of Virtue And Deformity Of Vice. The Figures Are Engraved By The Most Capital Artists, From Original Designs; With Explanations From Classical Authorities. By George Richardson , Architect. In Two Volumes. Volume First.

George Richardson

RA Collection: Book

Record number




London:: Printed For The Author, By G. Scott., MDCCLXXIX.

Physical Description

4 vols. in two; 380 mm. (Folio).

General Note

Vol. I: [xii], vii, [i], 49, [1] p., engr. dedic., 24 pl. - Vol. II: [iv], [51]-113, [1] p., 25-52 pl. - Vol. III: 73, [1] p., 53-80 pl. - Vol. IV: [iv], [75]-161, [3] p., 81-109 pl. Most plates are divided into up to four sections, which are numbered 1-423.


Vol. I: [T.p., dedic.] - A List Of The Subscribers - Preface - Contents; Errata - An Introductory Discourse Upon The Science Of Iconology - Explanation Of The Emblematical Figures - [Plates]. - Vols. II, III. [T.p.] - Contents - Explanation Of The Emblematical Figures - [Plates]. - Vol. IV: [T.p.] - Contents - Index To The Figures And Letter Press Book Fourth - Explanation Of The Emblematical Figures - General Index To The Two Volumes Of Iconology - [Plates].

Responsibility Note

Some plates are signed as drawn by W. Hamilton, and most are signed as engraved by E. Malpas. Some carry the signatures of other engravers - J. Caldwall, C. Grignion, F. Bartolozzi, Isaac Taylor, John Hall, W. Sharp, W. Woollett, W. Walker and W. Angus. Only a few carry no signatures.

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


ESTC, N17051

Summary Note

The work is in four parts, with four title-pages, which describe themselves as 'In Two Volumes. Volume First'; 'In Two Volumes. Volume First'; 'In Four Books. Book Third'; 'In Two Volumes. Volume Second'. The four title-pages are dated 1779, 1778, 1779, 1779 - but the plates in part I are all dated 1776, those in Part II 1777, those in Part III 1778 and those in Part IV 1779. The titles of parts I and IV have the same wording, apart from the substitution of 'Volume Second' for 'Volume First' in the fourth part. But the title of Parts II and III reads, 'Iconology; Or, A Collection Of Emblematical Figures, Moral And Instructive; Exhibiting The Images of the Elements and Celestial Bodies, the Seasons and Months of the Year, the Hours of the Day and Night, the Quarters of the World, the Principal Rivers, the Four Ages, the Muses, the Senses, Arts, Sciences, Dispositions and Faculties of the Mind, Virtues and Vices; Containing, In Four Books, Upwards of Four Hundred and Twenty Remarkable Subjects, engraved from Original Designs, with particular Explanations of the Figures, their Attributes and Symbols; Illustrated by a Variety of Authorities from Classical Authors; Selected And Composed From The Most Approved Emblematical Representations Of the Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans, and from the Compositions of Cavaliere Cesare Ripa Perugino, By George Richardson ...'.

This substantial work, issued in parts, provided artists of all kinds with a comprehensive repertoire of designs suitable for neoclassical interiors.

Its subscribers include the Library of the Royal Academy and its President, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Benjamin West (history painter), Edward Penny (the Academy's professor of painting), G.B. Cipriani, B. Rebecca and A. Zucchi (decorative painters), C. Catton (coach painter), E. Burch (gem engraver) and Paul Sandby (watercolorist and printmaker).


An electronic reproduction was published in 2003 (Farmington Hills, Mich.: Thomson Gale). A microfilm version was published in 2002 (Woodbridge Conn.: Primary Source Microfilm [an imprint of Gale Group]).


The first number was bought in 1776, the second in 1777 (RAA cash books); the Royal Academy is listed among the Subscribers in the 1779 volume. Recorded in RAA Library Catalogue, 1802.

Copy Note

On the title-page of the second part the word 'First' has been deleted, and 'Second' substituted in pencil. On some plates the ascription to the draughtsman W. Hamilton has been inscribed in ink (Part III, pl. 55, 59, 63-65).

Binding Note

18th-century half calf, marbled-papered boards; rebacked and recornered in 20th century, spines lettered 'Richardson Iconology Vol. I. (II.)'.


Allegories - Emblems (allegorical pictures) - Iconography
Emblem books - Great Britain - 18th century
Pictorial works - Great Britain - 18th century