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Gibbs' Book of Architecture
An Eighteenth-Century Classic
By James Gibbs
Dover Publications, Inc.Copyright © 2008 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
WHAT is here presented to the Publick was undertaken at the instance of several Persons of Quality and others; and some Plates were added to what was at first intended, by the particular direction of Persons of great Distinction, for whose Commands I have the highest regard. They were of opinion, that fuch a Work as this would be of use to fuch Gentlemen as might be concerned in Building, especially in the remote parts of the Country, where little or no assistance for Designs can be procured. Such may be here furnished with Draughts of useful and convenient Buildings and proper Ornaments; which may be executed by any Workman who understands Lines, either as here Design'd, or with some Alteration, which may be easily made by a person of Judgment; without which a Variation in Draughts, once well digested, frequently proves a Detriment to the Building, as well as a Disparagement to the person that gives them. I mention this to caution Gentlemen from suffering any material Change to be made in their Designs, by the Forwardness of unskilful Workmen, or the Caprice of ignorant, assuming Pretenders.
SOME, for want of better Helps, have unfortunately put into the hands of common workmen, the management of Buildings of considerable expence; which when finished, they have had the mortification to find condemned by persons of Tast, to that degree that sometimes they have been pull'd down, at least alter' d at a greater charge than would have procur'd better advice from an able Artist; or if they have stood, they have remained lasting Monuments of the Ignorance or Parsimoniousness of the Owners, or (it may be) of a wrong-judged Profuseness.
WHAT heaps of Stone, and even Marble, are daily seen in Monuments, Chimneys, and other Ornamental pieces of Architecture, without the least Symmetry or Order? When the fame or fewer Materials, under the conduct of a skilful Surveyor, would, in less room and with much less charge, have been equally (if not more) useful, and by Justness of Proportion have had a more grand Appearance, and consequently have better answered the Intention of the Expence. For it is not the Bulk of a Fabrick, the Richness and Quantity of the Materials, the Multiplicity of Lines, nor the Gaudiness of the Finishing, that give the Grace or Beauty and Grandeur to a Building; but the Proportion of the Parts to one another and to the Whole, whether entirely plain, or enriched with a few Ornaments properly disposed.
IN order to prevent the Abuses and Absurdities above hinted at, I have taken the utmost care that these Designs should be done in the best Tast I could form upon the Instructions of the greatest Masters in Italy, as well as my own Observations upon the antient Buildings there, during many Years application to these Studies: For a cursory View of those August Remains can no more qualify the Spectator, or Admirer, than the Air of the Country can inspire him with the knowledge of Architecture.
IF this Book prove useful in some degree answerable to the Zeal of my Friends in encouraging and promoting the Publication of it, I shall not think my Time mis-spent, nor my Pains ill bestow'd.
I shall now proceed to give a short Explanation of the Plates as they stand in the Book.
Excerpted from Gibbs' Book of Architecture by James Gibbs. Copyright © 2008 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
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