Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - July - 2010 Issue

Art and Architecture from Sotheran's

Sotherans07-10

Art and Architecture from Sotheran's.


By Michael Stillman

Sotheran's recently issued a new catalogue of Art and Architecture. The London bookseller offers a range of catalogues, from targeted subjects such as this, to general collections of books. Among the firm's specific departments is architecture and decorative arts, and this catalogue fits that department's specialty. There are 222 books offered, these being a few samples of them.

Item 89 is a presentation copy of a book by the man who supervised one of the major construction wonders of its time, the building of the Panama Canal. George Washington Goethals was appointed to run the project in 1907 by President Theodore Roosevelt after the first two Chief Engineers had resigned. Goethals was not only an engineer, but was responsible for the construction of the canal and the local government. He was a take-charge manager and saw the project through to the successful opening in 1914, staying on two more years as Governor of the Canal Zone. His book is entitled Government of the Canal Zone, and it was published in 1915. Priced at £295 (British pounds, or approximate U.S. equivalent of $427).

Item 9 is a late 18th century look at Italy from a very eccentric Englishman, William Beckford. Beckford was a Member of Parliament and author of one successful novel, but his reputation is based more on his lineage and eccentricity. He inherited a fortune, which he began to spend freely in the first few decades of the 19th century. He built an enormous Gothic estate known as Fonthill, noted for its gigantic size and cost, and shoddy construction. It collapsed once during construction, only to be rebuilt, but by the 1840s, it had to be demolished, a structural mess though only being a couple of decades old. Beckford was long gone by that time as not even his fortune was large enough to maintain his extravagant lifestyle and he was forced to sell. Offered is his view of Italy, Italy; with Sketches of Spain and Portugal. By the Author of "Vathek." It is styled a "Second edition, revised." It was published in 1834, having first been published in 1783 under a different title, but that edition is very rare, having been suppressed at the time. £445 (US $645).

Item 44 is another look at Italy from the same era by a man not quite so eccentric, Rev. John Chetwode Eustace: A Tour Through Italy, Exhibiting A View Of Its Scenery, Its Antiquities, And Its Monuments... published in 1813. Eustace was a Catholic priest, born in Ireland, whose interests were attuned to travel. He served as a chaplain for an English family before traveling to Italy, where he became a tutor for three young men. One of those young men would build a monument to Eustace after his death from malaria. Eustace's book was very popular at the time, running through eight editions (offered is a first). £695 (US $1,007).

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