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84 The Broadway
Chesham
Buckinghamshire
HP5 1EG
Contact Simon Beattie
Telephone 01494 784954
Mobile 07717 707575
Specialists European (Cross-)Cultural History, Music, Russia, Rare Books, Manuscripts, Ephemera
Simon Beattie Ltd
Stand J15

LEEDS, William Henry, editor and translator.

Moller’s Memorials of German-Gothic Architecture; with additional Notes, and Illustrations from Stieglitz, etc. … To which are added, Tables of Continental lineal Measures, by W[esley]. S[toker]. B[arker]. Woolhouse, of the Nautical Almanac Office. , [London:] John Weale, Architectural Library … 1836

8vo (223 × 138 mm), pp. xv, [1], 176; with a 48-page publisher’s catalogue (16mo in half-sheets, 168 × 100 mm) bound in at the end; engraved frontispiece signed by Hawkesworth after Moller (spotted and darkened); hand-coloured title vignette; untrimmed and partially unopened in the original maroon pebble-grain cloth, spine lettered gilt; a little sunned, skilfully rebacked preserving the original spine lettering.

Note
First edition: an abridged translation, with new content, of ‘the most important book on German Gothic architecture to appear in the first two decades of the nineteenth century’ (Robson-Scott).

The mammoth Denkmäler der deutschen Baukunst (Darmstadt, 1821 onwards) was the magnum opus of German architect and town planner Georg Moller (1784–1852), in which he provided illustrated analysis of European gothic architecture from the sixth to the sixteenth centuries. It became a seminal text, and was of great impetus to the Gothic Revival movement.

John Weale (1791–1862) had published the first English translation of Moller’s work in 1824 (An Essay on the Origin and Progress of Gothic Architecture), but recognised the need for a supplementary, and affordable, version. In 1834, he took over Isaac Taylor’s press with the aim to establish an Architectural Library series, and commissioned William Henry Leeds (1786–1866), the irascible critic who wrote on Russian literature as well as architecture for the Foreign Quarterly Review (see my list ‘Russia’, January 2017, items 15 and 16, for his translations—the first into English—of Pushkin, 1828 and 1831), to edit the existing translation. In his translator’s preface, Leeds explains that the present work is ‘partly a reprint’ from the first edition, but ‘this translation of Moller’s text may be considered not only as a new, but in some degree as an independent work also’. It contains Moller’s supplementary work on the Elisabethkirche at Marburg, the Limburger Dom, and the Freiburger Münster, ‘treated more at length than any of the other subjects, and which are here translated for the first time’ as well as ‘much subsidiary matter derived from other sources’. Leeds demonstrates real reverence for his subject, commenting on the ‘abundance of exceedingly valuable matter, both antiquarian and architectural, to be obtained from the literature of Germany’.

With the exception of the frontispiece (the west elevation of the Elisabethkirche), this edition does not contain any of Moller’s plates, though the descriptions of them remain. Leeds explains the logic behind this economy, arguing that it is ‘no inconsiderable convenience to have the letter-press separately in an octavo form … a luxury to be appreciated save by those who know by experience how fatiguing and annoying it is to read or have to refer continually from the engravings to the descriptions in large-sized folios’.

Bibliography
RIBA 2168. See W. D. Robson-Scott, The Literary Background of the Gothic Revival in Germany: A Chapter in the History of Taste (Oxford, 1967), pp. 268–73.
£350