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London and Westminster Improved, Illustrated by Plans. To which is prefixed, A Discourse on Publick Magnificence; With Observations on the State of Arts and Artists in this Kingdom, wherein the study of the Polite Arts is recommended as necessary to a liberal Education: Concluded by Some Proposals relative to Places not laid down in the Plans. By John Gwynn.

John Gwynn RA

RA Collection: Book

Record number



Variant Title

Plan for rebuilding the city of London after the great fire


London:: Printed for the Author. Sold by Mr Dodsley, and at Mr Dalton's Print-Warehouse in Pall-Mall, Mr. Bathoe in the Strand, Mr. Davies in Russel-Street, Covent-Garden, and by Mr. Longman in Pater-noster-Row., MDCCLXVI.

Physical Description

xv, [1], 132 p., 4 pl. (folding); 266 mm (Quarto).


[T.p., dedic.] - Preface - Contents - Introduction - Errata - A Discourse on Publick Magnificence - Observations on the State of Arts and Artists in Great-Britain - Explanation Of The Plates - Some Observations upon, and Proposals relating to, Places which are not laid down in the Plans; Omissions - [Plates].

Responsibility Note

No plate is signed.

The work is dedicated by the author to the King (George III). According to Boswell, the dedication was composed by Samuel Johnson.


ESTC, T138431
Royal Institute of British Architects, British Architectural Library ... Early printed books, 2 (1995), no. 1416, p.755-6.
E. Harris and N. Savage, British Architectural Books (1990), p.214-7.
The context of Gwynn's essay is described in G.E. Mingay, Georgian London (1975).
H. Philips, Mid-Georgian London (1964).
D.J. Olsen, Town planning in London (1964, rev2/1982).
J. Summerson, Georgian London (1945, rev. 1988).
;;; I. Bignamini, 'Art institutions in London, 1689-1768', in Walpole Soc., 54 (1988), p.19-148.

Summary Note

Gwynn here calls for the commissioning of public works from British artists, and integrated planning for the British capital. His proposals and maps foreshadow such developments as Regent Street, Waterloo Bridge, the Thames Embankment and Trafalgar Square.

The plates are maps. In some copies (including that of the Royal Academy) they are hand-coloured.

John Gwynn was always eager to enhance the status of British artists and architects. In 1749 he had published An Essay on Design, including Proposals for erecting a Public Academy and in 1755 had taken part in the unsuccessful attempt to establish a Royal Academy of London for the improvement of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture. Since 1760 he had been an exhibitor at the Society of Artists of Great Britain. Two years after publishing the present work he would become a foundation Member of the Royal Academy, with whom he would exhibit annually from 1769 to 1772.


An electronic reproduction was published in 2003 (Farmington Hills, Mich.: Thomson Gale). A microfilm version was published in 1986 (Woodbridge, CT: Research Publications). A reprint was published in 1969 (Farnborough: Gregg) (ISBN 0576153605).


Presented to the Academy by the author before 20 May 1769 (RAA, CIM 23); inscribed in ink on the front endpaper, 'Given by John Gwynn RA the author'.

Copy Note

An additional unnumbered plate serves as a frontispiece, entitled, 'A plan for rebuilding the city of London after the Great Fire in 1666, designed by ... Christopher Wren'. This had been published separately in 1749; it is signed as drawn by Gwynn and engraved by E. Rooker.

Binding Note

Contemporary calf, upper and lower covers having single-line gilt borders; rebacked in 1996 by James Brockman, retaining original red morocco spine-label lettered 'London & Westmin Improve'.


City planning - Patronage - Arts and society - Art and state - Sponsorship - Government Policy - Art commissions - Maps - Great Britain - London - History - 18th century
Essays - Maps - Great Britain - 18th century
Pictorial works - Hand coloring - Great Britain - 18th century


George III King of Great Britain, dedicatee
James Dodsley, bookseller
Richard Dalton, bookseller
Edward Rooker, engraver
William Bathoe, bookseller
Thomas Davies, bookseller
Thomas Longman, bookseller
Samuel Johnson
John Gwynn RA, draughtsman
James Brockman, binder

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