Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Britannia Illustrata


Williamstrip, the Seat of Henry Ireton, Esquire1

blackett gardens
The Seat of the Honourable Sir William Blackett
with Part of the Town of Newcastle upon Tyne2

Rendcombe, the Seat of Sir John Guise Baronet1

southam park
Southam, the Seat of Kinard de la Bere Esquire3

st james palace park
St James Palace Park4

Syston park
Syston the Seat of Samuell Trotman Esq.5

coberly park
Coberly, the Seat of Jonathan Castelman, Esq.1,6

seavenhampton park
Seavenhampton, the Seat of Sir William Dodwell1

dyrham park
Dyrham, the Seat of William Balthwait, Esq.1

guisborough park
The Seat of William Chaloner Esq. of Gisborough
in Cleaveland in the County of Yorke2

doddington park
Doddington in the County of Lincolne, the Seate
of the Honble. Sr. Thomas Hussey Barrett4

broadwell park
Broadwell, the Seat of Danvers Hodges, Esq.1

[click on the images to enlarge - almost all are a fair size]

1. The Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco have 54 images, with about a dozen in colour [all the above selection from FAMSF are splices from the zoom interface of 6 to 8 screencaps]

2. The British Library's Collect Britain website have about 3 or 4 images [search on 'kip'] - the watermarks were removed from the above examples.

3. Fulltable have (at least) one large image with high resolution details (always a slow load irrespective of your connection speed).

4. Donald Head Antique Prints have 19 images, all in colour but modestly sized (click 'view pictures' at the bottom of each entry). [from the french publication - 'Nouveau Theatre de la Grande Bretagne: ou description exacte des palais de la Reine, et des Maisons les plus considerables des Seigneurs; des Gentilshommes de la Grande Bretagne.']

5. Panteek Prints have 10 colour and 12 black and white prints in large size format (the image above had the watermark removed)

6. This particular image was spliced together from 8 screencaps using a demo version of the Autostitch program posted to Metafilter yesterday. It requires no brain whatsoever and does a very good job. I think the end result is better when I do it myself but not by much. It's intended for creating panorama photo shots - 'the world's first fully automatic 2D image stitcher'.

Johannes (Jan) Kip and Leonard Knyff were both expatriate dutch artists who settled in Britain towards the end of the 17th century. They collaborated to produce one of the preeminent historical works on British topography, landscaping and architecture with the release in 1707 of 'Britannia Illustrata: Or Views of Several of the Queens Palaces, as Also of the Principal seats of the Nobility and Gentry of Great Britain, Curiously Engraven on 80 Copper Plates'.

Knyff orginally produced the imaginative and detailed bird's eye view pictures which were engraved by Kip, but Kip later took over both roles and is commonly cited as the author. In fact there are many contradictory reports about the number of illustrations and reprints, volume numbers and years of publication across the many eminent sites that mention their work. I get the feeling that the term "Britannia Illustrata" came to encompass the many works of both book and printed art that were produced by Kypff/Kip or Kip alone; although it is clear that there were several distinct books released by Kip. Nothing online seems authoritative particularly, but the wikipedia article gives some basic facts.

What is certain is that many of the houses and gardens have been changed dramatically, or destroyed completely and that Kip and Knyff's artwork provide a valuable early 18th century snapshot of the development of garden design.

All of the major commercial print sites have example Knyff/Kip work. The only other links I consider worth seeing are the MetMuseum which shows how an engraving appears in the book format and this 'Eighteenth Century Garden History' site which I've posted before.


harlequinpan said...

Nice bird-view of Britannia!

Engelbert said...

thanks for images and links :)

peacay said...


Unknown said...

How many of the books were produced?

peacay said...

The 2 easy answers Aaron: it's about 9 years since this post was published so it's a long way out of my head; AND I'm really no expert, or even very knowledgeable, in relation to the minutiae of the book publishing industry.

I mean, I have come across a lot of data about book production, but it's really for the academics, or at least, it's really outside of the purview of this site or my expertise.

In truth, I'm not even sure how to go about finding the info. I guess I would probably want to start with a WorldCat search (in the sidebar) and then I'd be approaching either a book historian or a rare books librarians, both of whom will have knowledge about, and access to, esoteric databases where the answer to your question probably resides. If you ever find out, do please let us know, thanks!

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