Specimens of the Ancient Sculpture and Painting, now remaining in this Kingdom, from the earliest period to the reign of Henry ye VIII consisting of Statues, Bassorelievos, Brasses &c. Paintings on Glass and on Walls &c, A Description of each Subject, some of which by Gentlemen of Leterary abilities, and well versed in the Antiquities of this Kingdom whose names are prefixed to their Essays. This work is designed to shew the Rise & Progress of Sculpture and Painting in England, to explain obscure and doubtful parts of History, and preserve the Portraits of great and eminent Personages. The Drawings made from the original Subjects and Engrav'd by Iohn Carter. (Vol. II.)

John Carter

RA Collection: Book

Record number




London.: Published as the act directs by John Carter Wood St. Westminster., November ye 1st. 1780. (- Jan. 1t. 1787.)

Physical Description

2 vols. [in one]; 460 mm.

General Note

Vol. I: iv, 2, 60 [i.e. 62] p., frontis., t.pl., 2, [54] pl. (one fold.). (There are bis pp. 7, 8.) - Vol. II: iv, 70 p., frontis., t.pl., [57] pl. (two fold.): [2] illus.


Vol. I: [Frontis., t.pl., dedic.] - Introduction - Explanation of the Frontispiece - Index - The First List Of Subscribers ... - [Text and plates]. - Vol. II: [Frontis., t.pl., dedic.] - Explanation of the Frontispiece to the Second Volume - The Second List Of Subscribers ... - Index.Vol.II. - [Text and plates].

Responsibility Note

No plate is signed.

Each carries the publisher's imprint of John Carter (and the date of publication).

The first volume is dedicated by John Carter to Horace Walpole; the second, by John Carter to the Earl of Exeter.


ESTC, T90203
Royal Institute of British Architects, British Architectural Library ... Early printed books, 1 (1994), no. 571, p. 329.
J.M. Crook, John Carter and the mind of the Gothic Revival (1995).

Summary Note

Publication-dates are given on the title-plates as 1780 and 1787, but the work was published serially, the first volume between 1780 and 1786 and the second volume between 1787 and 1794. The dedication of the first volume carries the date of November 1786, and its plates carry publication-dates of 1780 Nov 1 (t.pl.), 1781 Nov 1, Dec 1, 1782 Mar 1, June 1, Nov 1, 1783 Feb 1, June 1, 1784 Jan 1, Apr 1, Nov 1, 1785 Apr 1, Jul 1, Nov 1, 1786 Mar 1, Jul 1. The plates of Volume II carry the dates of 1787 Jan 1, Jul 1, 1788 May 1, Nov 1, 1789 May 1, 1790 Jan 1, May 1, 1791 Jan 1, May 1, 1792 Feb 1, June 1, 1793 Feb 1, May 1, 1794 Jan 1, May 1.

In some copies (including that of the Royal Academy) several plates are hand-coloured or tinted.


A microfilm copy was published in 2001 (Woodbridge, Conn.: Primary Source Microfilm [imprint of Gale Group]).


The verso of the front free-endpaper is inscribed in pencil 'S.A.H.', i.e. S. A. Hart, librarian of the Royal Academy 1864-81. Purchased for RA Library in 1878 (see RA Annual Report for 1878, pp. 50, 51).

Although 'Gothic Statues - Basso Relievos - Doors, Windows &c. by Carter. 2 Vol.: 10 guineas' was on a list of books that John Flaxman had recommended to the RA Council on 1 September 1801 as 'essentially useful in the Arts, therefore necessary to be added to the Collection' (RA Council Minutes III, 110), no copy was acquired for the RA Library until this one in 1878.

Binding Note

19th-century half red morocco, marbled-papered boards; spine lettered 'Carter's Ancient Sculpture' and 'R.A.'


Sculpture - Paintings - Great Britain - History - Romanesque - Gothic
Art history - Great Britain - 18th century
Pictorial works - Hand coloring - Great Britain - 18th century


John Carter, draughtsman, engraver, publisher
Horace Walpole, 4th Earl of Orford, dedicatee
Henry Cecil, 1st Marquess of Exeter, dedicatee