Essai sur l'Architecture.

Paris, chez Duchesne, 1753.

Small 8vo, pp. xiv, [2], 293, [19], with the 4 pages of approbation and privilege, and the final leaf of errata; a fine copy in contemporary cat’s paw calf, richly gilt spine with red morocco label. Contemporary mss. ‘Ex libris [unreadable]’; title-page with late 18th century ownership stamp of entwined initials D.B.? enclosed by ‘Juge au tribunal de Semur, (cote d’or)’; and bookplate of John Harris.


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First edition of Laugier’s important and influential Essai advocating a return to the use of geometrical forms in architecture rather than the embellishment of the Orders, and determining the regular layout of streets and squares in city planning, with special reference to Paris, and calling for a picturesque alternative to the traditional French formal garden. The book’s argument was deemed so revolutionary that Laugier published it anonymously. It was translated into English in 1755.

Schlosser-Magnino p.653; Berlin Kat. 2405, Cicognara 545 and RIBA, Early Printed Books, 1774 (all only have the second edition of 1755 which was no longer published anonymously).

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