We use cookies to improve your experience online. By using our website, you agree to the use of cookies as described in our cookies policy.

The RA is closed due to coronavirus restrictions, and will reopen when government guidance allows. For ticket enquiries, please contact us at 020 7300 8090 or tickets@royalacademy.org.uk.

search results

Previous Showing result 6 of 9 Next


Plans Elevations Sections and Views of the Church of Batalha, in the Province of Estremadura in Portugal, with the History and Description by Fr. Luis de Sousa; with remarks. To which is prefixed an Introductory Discourse on the Principles of Gothic Architecture by James Murphy Archt. Illustrated with 27 plates

James Cavanah Murphy

RA Collection: Book

Record number



Variant Title

Historia de San Domingos


London: Printed for I. & J. Taylor, High Holborn, MDCCXCV.

Physical Description

ii, 26, [2], [27]-61, [1], [2] p., engr. t.-pl., engr. dedic., 4, [21] pl. (2 dble.); 533 mm. (Folio).

General Note

The two final unpaginated pages, carrying the 'List Of Subscribers' and 'Additional Note', are in some copies bound in before the 26 pages of the Introduction.

The 'Directions For Placing The Plates' call for a total of twenty-seven plates 'with the Title'. The dedication appears to be printed from two coppers.


[Engr. t.-pl., engr. dedic.] - Preface - Introduction [with 5 pl.] - [Divisional t.p., 'The History And Description Of The Royal Monastery Of Batalha Written Originally In The Portuguese Language By Father Luis De Sousa: And Translated Into English, With Notes, By James Murphy, Architect'] - [Text] - Directions For Placing The Plates - [20 plates] - List Of Subscribers; Additional Note.

Responsibility Note

The plates are signed as drawn by James Murphy, J. Taylor and Stuart; and engraved by W. Lowry, S. Porter, J. Walker, Clare, C. Grignion, James Murphy, Jas. Newton, I. Taylor, Thomas, L. Schiavonetti.

The work is dedicated by Murphy to William Conyngham.


RIBA, Early printed books, 3 (1999), no. 2221, p.1198-1201.

On the Gothic Revival see G. Worsley, 'The origins of the Gothic Revival: a reappraisal', in Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 6th ser. 3 (1993), p. 105-50; P. Fontaney, Le Renouveau gothique en Angleterre (1989); M. McCarthy, The origins of the Gothic Revival (1987); J. Macaulay, The Gothic Revival, 1745-1845 (1975); K. Clark, The Gothic Revival (1962).
ESTC, T147700

Summary Note

This work was originally published by subscription in 5 parts between 1792 and 1795.

The book played a considerable part in stimulating serious archaeological interest in Gothic architecture as well as directly influencing James Wyatt's designs for Beckford's Fonthill Abbey (built 1796-1812). Murphy begins his Introduction by extolling the virtues of Gothic buildings and quoting Sir William Chambers, who had openly admitted that it was 'to those usually called Gothic architects [that] we are indebted for the first considerable improvements in construction; there is a lightness in their works ... to which the ancients never arrived, and which the moderns comprehend and imitate with difficulty' (Civil Architecture, 3rd. ed., p. 24).

The text describes the Church and Monastery of Santa Maria da Vitória, begun by King John I of Portugal in 1388-1402 to the plans of the architect Alfonso Domingues, and enlarged by the architect Huguet (1402-1438) and throughout the 15th and 16th centuries. The Introduction discusses arches, domes, spires, proportions of Gothic churches, doors, windows, niches, pillars, fragments of Gothic architecture, religious customs of the 13th century and the churches of the first Christians. The 'History and Description' is a free and abridged translation of Sousa's Historia de San Domingos (Lisboa, 1622).

Drawings and papers by Murphy relating to Batalha monastery are preserved in the collections of the Society of Antiquaries, London.


The Royal Academy is listed among the Subscribers. Interim subscription payments were made in 1792 (10s. 6d.), 1793 (£1 10s.) and 1794 (10s. 6d.) - see RA Cashbook 1769-1795, 25 Mar. 1792, 25 Mar. 1793, 5 Mar. 1794 - and the publisher Josiah Taylor was paid £2 5s. for parts 3-5 of the work in the latter part of 1796 (see 'Quartlerly Abstracts of Bills', Michaelmas-Xmas, 1796).

Binding Note

18th-century mottled calf; rebacked in 20th century, red morocco spine-label lettered 'Murphy's Plans Of Batalha'.

Name as Subject


Church of Santa Maria da Vitória (Batalha) - Batalha Monastery - Architecture - Churches - Monasteries - Dominicans - Gothic - Portugal - Batalha - History
Art history - Views - Plans - Elevations - Sections - Great Britain - 18th century
Pictorial works - Great Britain - 18th century


Luis de Sousa, Historia de San Domingos
Wilson Lowry, engraver
Samuel Porter, engraver
Charles Grignion, engraver
James Newton, engraver
Luigi Schiavonetti, engraver
James Cavanah Murphy, draughtsman, engraver