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The Origin Of Building: Or, The Plagiarism Of The Heathens Detected, In Five Books. By John Wood, Architect.

John Wood the elder

RA Collection: Book

Record number




Bath:: Printed by S. and F. Farley, And Sold by J. Leake: M. Lewis, in Bristol: W. Innys, in St. Paul's Church-Yard; C. Hitch, in Pater-Noster-Row; R. Dodsley, in Pall-Mall; J. Pine, in Old-Bond-street; and J. Brindley, in New-Bond-street, London., M.DCC.XLI.

Physical Description

[6], 235, [3] p., 36 [i.e. 25]pl.; 421 mm. (Folio.)

General Note

There are 25 pl., but eleven are folding and are assigned two numbers, viz. pl. 2/3, 7/8, 12/13, 14/15, 16/17, 18/19, 20/21, 22/23, 24/25, 27/28, 29/30.


[T.p.] - The Contents. Book the First.(-Fifth.); The Order of the Plates - [Text, with pl.] - Errata.

Responsibility Note

No plate is signed.


ESTC, T65432
Royal Institute of British Architects, British Architectural Library ... Early printed books, 4 (2001), no. 3704, p.2440-1.
National Gallery (Washington), Mark J. Millard architectural, 2, (1998), no. 91, p.340-3.
E. Harris and N. Savage, British Architectural Books (1990), no.929, p.480-9.
John Hopkins University, The Fowler Architectural Collection (1961 repr. 1991), no. 441, p.343.
T. Mowl and B. Earnshaw, John Wood: architect of obsession (1988).

Summary Note

Wood here argues - like Villalpando and others before him - that architecture has a symbolic function, representing the aspirations of mankind and the wisdom of God. The principles of architecture were revealed by God to Moses and Solomon, and from them were debased by Egyptians, Assyrians, Greeks, Romans and ancient Britons. Among moderns Wood praises Palladio (pl.5) but castigates Zuccari (pl.4). Wood's theories appear to have influenced his work at Llandaff cathedral in 1734. The extent to which they may have influenced his more extensive works at Bath is debated.

The plates show plans of buildings, camps and cities, elevations and details of orders.


An online reproduction was made in 2003 (Farmington Hills, Mich.: Thomson Gale). A microfilm version was published in 1986 (Woodbridge: CT Research Publications Inc.).


A preliminary leaf is inscribed in ink, 'Prince Hoare 1814', and in pencil 'Recd 5 Feby 1838 G.J.' On the front loose endpaper has been tipped in a letter addressed to 'John Hilton R.A. Librarian Royal Academy', reading 'No. 11 Argyll place Decem 21 1837 Dear Sir Mrs Vobe a lady who inherits a property at Brighton, of the late Prince Hoare Esqre, has commissioned me to forward to the Royal Academy the accompanying Book The favour of an acknowledgment is requested Your most obedient servant Joseph Bonomi'.

Binding Note

20th-century quarter brown cloth, grey papered boards; spine lettered 'Wood - Origin Of Building', 'R.A.' and '1741'.


Architecture - Architecture details - Architectural orders - Theory - Israel - Middle East - Greece - Rome - Mediterranean Region - History
Art history - Treatises - Plans - Elevations - Great Britain - 18th century
Pictorial works - Great Britain - 18th century


Samuel Farley, printer
Felix Farley, printer
James Leake, bookseller
Mrs. Martha Lewis, bookseller
William Innys, bookseller
Charles Hitch, bookseller
Robert Dodsley, bookseller
John Pine, bookseller
John Brindley, bookseller
Prince Hoare, previous owner
Mrs. Vobe, previous owner, donor
Joseph Bonomi
S. and F. Farley (Bath), printer